Plenary Recap: APPAM/NASPAA Joint Plenary with Jeff Bingaman
November 8, 2014 10:00 AM
By Kelly Ochs Rosinger, University of Georgia
To kick off the 2014 APPAM Fall Research Conference, the former U.S. Senator from New Mexico Jeff Bingaman spoke at the APPAM/NASPAA Joint Plenary. The Senator spoke on how we as a people can work to make government function better. Noting that the recent midterm elections largely focused on the failures of government, Bingaman stated that many government programs and policies have shortcomings and have fallen short of their objectives, but should not be characterized as failings. Rather, he highlighted the 49 million Americans who benefit from Medicare, the more than 12 million students who benefit from the federal student loan program, and the steps that have been taken in tax policy relating to energy. He also noted that in considering the failures of commission in government action, we should also examine the failures of omission – the failure of the government to act.
Bingaman also spoke of dysfunction in U.S. Congress that has limited government effectiveness. External forces have contributed to this, including growing polarization and the media reinforcement of this polarization, as well as the role of money and special interests in election campaigns. However, he also highlighted several internal changes in the way Congress functions that limit effectiveness, including the:
Refusal to appropriate funds,
Refusal to permit borrowing to meet obligations the government has already incurred, and
Abusive use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate on many significant issues.
The Senator called these tactics “calculated efforts to leverage power that prevents the U.S. Congress from fulfilling its responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution.” He called on congressional leaders from both the Republican and Democratic parties to recognize bipartisan leadership in passing appropriation bills, paying debts, and limiting filibusters to create a better functioning government.
You can watch Senator Bingaman's full remarks here: