Increasingly, national polls indicate the general public gives the U.S. Congress (both the Senate and the House) low marks relative to credibility. Gamesmanship, involving party political strategies, seem to be paramount rather than finding solutions to the needs of the people relative to stagnated earnings, diminished employment opportunities and an erosion of their net worth. We hear demands that government must reduce spending over finding solutions to grow the economy.
During the last presidential campaign much discussion was cited for the need to address federal tax loopholes, which is a familiar campaign rhetoric prior to elections. Recently television channels replayed political clips of candidates touting their commitment to finally undertake this task if elected.
If the member of Congress wants to demonstrate his or her desire to restore credibility in Congress they need to begin a concerted effort to close those loopholes. Admittedly, this will be a Herculean task because many loopholes have been inserted at the bequest of special interest groups that significantly fund their elections.
A term that is frequently spouted by senators, representatives and even by members of the administration is the word transparency. It is a nice-sounding word but it is seldom evident in their proceedings. For example, look at the recent failure of the Senate to revise its operating rules regarding the filibuster procedure. Several senators wanted the rules revised to require members to publicly identify themselves when they attempt to block legislative action from coming up for discussion and vote. Sen. Reid, the majority leader, in the past is on record as supportive of this rule change. However as a result of negotiations with the minority leader (Sen. McConnell) they circumvented the adoption of this rule change. The failure to adopt the change is a perfect example of subverting transparency. The filibuster has been, and will continue to be, a major means in blocking proposed legislative action.
Transparency in Congress would allow knowledgeable people an opportunity to raise their concerns, or express their support, of proposed actions. Critiques offered through established and emerging (social networks) media outlets, reviews, and public discussions could greatly assist in re-establishing credibility.
Once members of Congress demonstrate that they can constructively address closing loopholes in the tax code and strengthen revenue sources, the public should be able to expect them to effectively address the expenditure side of their fiscal responsibilities.