I missed this Andrew Sullivan response to the Economist write up on the CLEAR Act:

Lexington worries that “a simple bill that doesn’t bribe every clamouring interest group is going to have a hard time getting through Congress.” That’s becoming a universal theme, isn’t it, made more obvious rather than less by Obama’s first year. Special interests run the Congress which runs the country. The notion of citizens voting for specific goals for the public good and having their representatives debate them in good faith and vote on them … well, it seems positively surreal, doesn’t it?

Everybody that knows politics think otherwise, but the ‘bribe every interest group’ theory isn’t that effective. It might be effective in small doses, but in the aggregate it just weighs down legislation and poisons public support.

On a micro level when you need one Congressperson on board with a bill you usually start thinking about which interest groups you might want to make happy. But if you do that for dozens of interests to get dozens of votes you get a bill that everybody dislikes and only emboldens the next swing vote to ask for more. And sometimes, see the health care bill, the compromises are so unpopular that you need to strip them out before the bill becomes a law and that mucks up the process even more.

The CLEAR Act’s lack of special favors doesn’t make it weaker, it makes it stronger.


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