The No Labels organization continues its efforts to get the federal government to function as it was meant to and the way we want it to.
Whether President Obama is re-elected or Mitt Romney is elected president in November, they will need to focus on healing the partisan divide that has crippled this country. Last March, No Labels introduced the Make Congress Work Action Plan. The 12 steps – including congressional rules changes, leadership changes, and personal behavior changes –– are aimed at breaking the partisan gridlock. However, it will take more than the House of Representatives and the Senate to make these changes. It will take President Obama’s or President Romney’s leadership.
No Labels wants to influence the process. This month they introduced an 11-point program called Make the Presidency Work.
1) Hold Regular Press Conferences
The president should hold monthly press conferences that are scheduled.
2) Fast Track Legislative Authority
Twice a year, the president should be able to submit legislation directly to Congress for an up or down majority vote. These requests would not be subject to amendments but would require 10 sponsors from each party in the House and five from each party in the Senate.
3) Make the Party Pay for Presidential Fundraising Trips
If any official function is part of a trip that includes fund raising, taxpayers pay the full cost. The political parties should pay the full cost of any trip where fundraising is part of the itinerary.
4) Line-Item Veto With A Twist
Budget bills are often stacked with unrelated amendments. The president should have the power of rescission, the power to remove an unrelated item and send it back to Congress for an expedited up or down vote.
5) Reduce the Number of Appointees Subject to Senate Confirmation
In the past 50 years the number of positions requiring Senate confirmation has grown from 280 to 1,400. The president should have to authority to appoint less urgent positions.
6) Identify A “Slate That Can’t Wait” of Critical Nominees For Expedited Confirmation
The average time for Senate confirmation is now 10 months. For critical positions, this could have a crippling effect on government. Within a few days after the election, the president should be allowed to submit a list of especially critical positions allowing for speedier background checks and confirmation.
7) Up or Down Vote on Presidential Appointments
Those positions requiring Senate confirmation should receive an up or down vote within 90 days.
8) Question Time for the President
On a rotating basis, the president should appear before the House or Senate on a monthly basis for a 90 minute televised question and answer session.
9) Expanded Presidential Power to Reorganize
From FDR through Ronald Reagan, presidents have been allowed to reorganize the executive branch of government. However, in 1984, the Reorganization Act was allowed to lapse. This authority needs to be restored.
10) Different Opinion – Same Facts
Every year, a non-partisan leader such as the comptroller general should deliver a televised fiscal update to the president, vice president, cabinet members, and members of Congress. All in attendance must sign the report. There may be different opinions, but at least all would be starting with the same facts.
11) Regular Meetings Between the President and Congressional Leadership
Whether at the White House, in the Leader’s office, on the golf course, or over dinner, the president and congressional leaders need to meet at least once per quarter and just talk. As Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil taught us, much can be accomplished after 6 p.m.
Some of these steps require Congress to act. Whichever man is president, he needs to show leadership and get Congress to agree. On those items that do not require action by Congress… JUST DO IT!