A Rare and Bipartisan Defense of Politicians

Carrots and Sticks spent the morning at Congressional hearings. I attended the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the costs of climate legislation.

One thing that struck me was the reasonable nature and tone of the questions. The majority of the questions on both sides of the aisle were intelligent and showed a solid understanding of the issue. I can’t read minds but I didn’t think any of the questions were motivated by dishonesty or intentional misrepresenting the truth. Which makes the questions terrible blog material.

Which gets to the perverse incentives that blogs and the media have regarding to the behavior of politicians. Senator asks reasonable question is a dog bites man story, so anybody looking for a story tries to find the most heated or otherwise entertaining event going on, which leads to a distorted view of reality. Instead of reading about the great majority of Congressional Republicans that don’t want to start McCarthy-style hearings on Democrats we read about Michelle Bachman. If tomorrow Chairman Rangel decides to act in conciliatory way to Republicans, and Chairman Frank decides to launch a emotional attack on Republicans, you can bet you won’t see Rangel on cable news shows.



1 comment so far

  1. jeremydc on

    Funny you mention Congressman Frank. This morning I was at the Financial Services markup on the big financial reforms. Lobbyist catnip, as you can imagine, but that’s besides the point. I also noticed a very similar dynamic to you Chris…although there were serious and probably intractable policy differences across the aisle, everybody was cordial and genuinely participated in attempting to fashion a widely acceptable compromise (with arguably a couple notable exceptions to the good faith participation part, Tom Price (GA-6) and Jeb Hensarling (TX-5)).

    But between that hearing and his appearance on Maddow that I just saw a few minutes ago, something struck me about Barney Frank’s approach. He is fantastic at pinpointing and fulminating about problems in our financial markets and institutions, but seems to invariably propose weak half-measure solutions. For example, his big fix to runaway Wall Street pay is Say on Pay, a mandate that shareholders in a large public corporation hold a nonbinding advisory vote on compensation for that company’s executives. I won’t hijack this post to get into further detail, but I did want to get that thought across while it was fresh in my mind.

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