Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.
Let’s start with the obvious: A democracy needs intelligence agencies. It needs to know what’s happening in the world — and understand the plans of allies and enemies — to keep the nation prepared and secure.
As Congress moves forward on budget negotiations, the word out of Washington is to expect nothing major: no grand bargain, just more stopgap, short-term fixes. Yet there’s one ray of hope. The House and Senate chairs of the tax-writing committees, one a Republican, the other a Democrat, are preparing a comprehensive tax reform plan. They see the budget negotiations as their opportunity to enact much-needed changes to our bloated, off-kilter tax laws.
The American public has lost patience with Washington. The question is, now what?
Washington is beginning to debate the proper extent of government eavesdropping powers in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA. It’s hardly as robust a discussion as it should be, but it’s a desperately needed start.
As Washington swirls with proposals, counter-proposals, and political brinksmanship in response to diplomatic efforts on Syria, the situation has a lot of people scratching their heads. Couldn’t President Obama and Congress have handled this differently?