Jason Grumet

Governing ‘Mandates’ Are Usually Phony. This One Is Real
By opting for a divided Congress, voters were sending a clear message

OPINION — Over the past several election cycles, political parties, pundits and activists have proclaimed governing “mandates” based on the support of only a slim majority of voters who represent just a small fraction of the actual population. The mandate hyperbole has fueled careening and brittle policy agendas that have undermined economic progress and national cohesion.

In the recent midterms, our divided country has forcefully deprived both parties of the fantasy that they can govern without compromise. The question now is whether congressional leaders can develop a pragmatic agenda to lead a divided nation.

Whatever Happens Tuesday, Democracy Is Banged Up But Not Broken
Engagement by millennials is up and workplaces have become more civil

OPINION — The nation’s view on our democracy has always been a unique contradiction of cheering, wailing and disinterest. The shining city on the hill is also a swampy snake pit. The world’s greatest deliberative body is hopelessly corrupt, and the land of opportunity is completely rigged. While opinions vary, the dominant sentiment today is understandably bleak.

According to a recent bipartisan poll, half the country believes we are in “real danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country,” and over two-thirds of respondents believe democracy is growing weaker by the day. The more optimistic view points to the numerous crises we’ve weathered over the past two centuries and maintains an abiding belief that the structure of the democracy is essentially self-correcting. Public sentiments careen left, right, bold, fearful, populist, elitist, inclusive and uncharitable, yet somehow our democratic society serves as ballast that keeps us afloat despite churning seas.

How America Forgot ‘Never Forget’
The 9/11 Commission warned us once. Let it be a lesson again

OPINION — This week calls for reflection as we pause to remember the 2,997 people who died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the thousands of Americans killed and wounded in military service to our country since that horrific day.

Seventeen years later, we also honor the heroic actions of two American statesmen, former Gov. Thomas Kean and former Rep. Lee Hamilton. They led the eight members of the 9/11 Commission — four Democrats and four Republicans — in an unprecedented, bipartisan effort to understand one of the worst tragedies in American history and to provide the government with a path forward to ensure it never happens again.

Opinion: Note to Millennials — What I Wish I Had Known Then About Saving for the Future
Focusing only on the crisis of today worsens the crises of tomorrow

A retirement crisis is on the way, and the generation most likely to be affected by it is the group that’s paying the least attention. For now.

It should come as no surprise that the youngest and largest generation in the workforce has trouble focusing on retirement. Millennials face unique challenges that we did not encounter at their stage. The vast majority of their generation entered the workforce during the Great Recession and its aftermath. Rising college costs and a tuition funding system increasingly reliant on loans have resulted in the largest student loan debt on record. Financial concerns have pushed out millennials’ timing for buying a home, getting married and having children. That’s why saving for retirement does not make the top of life’s list for this generation.

Opinion: A New Climate of Realism Emerges in Energy Debate
Progressives and conservatives must embrace ideas and partners they’ve shunned before

Two mainstay and false arguments of the climate debate — “It’s all a hoax” and “Renewable energy alone can save us” — are beginning to lose steam.

In place of the scientific, engineering and economic denial that has marred the last two decades of debate, a new coalition that acknowledges the growing risks of climate change and embraces a broader set of solutions is emerging. Whether the motivation here is the slow drip of evidence, the destabilizing effect of careening federal policy, or simply exhaustion, a new climate of realism is gaining adherents in industry, among advocates, and on Capitol Hill. For this movement to take hold, progressives and conservatives must both embrace ideas and partners they’ve doubted or shunned in the past.

Opinion: As Hurricane Season Approaches, It’s Time to Fix Disaster Funding
Our federal government should stop treating natural disasters as surprises

The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is just over ten days away. As the nation continues to grapple with the emotional and economic scars of last year’s natural disasters, it is hard to fathom the possibility of a new spate of storms. And while we can’t predict the extent of trauma that awaits us in 2018, one thing is for sure — we are not prepared.

Last year, the United States saw 16 weather-related disasters that each exceeded $1 billion in costs and damages. Total costs of disaster recovery for the year are expected to surpass $300 billion.

Opinion: Want to Fix the Debt? Bring Back Earmarks
The give and take that is essential to overcoming differences is impossible if there is nothing to give or take

Our national debt stands at $20 trillion. Yet the last several years show that neither party is willing to upset voters by asking them to pay for the programs, services and tax cuts that benefit us all.

At its core, restoring fiscal balance is not a matter of convincing leaders of the right thing to do. Just about everyone understands the math. The challenge is giving members the tools to do the right thing.

Opinion: Congress, It’s Time to Heal Thyself. Here’s How
Nine ways to restore public trust and its self-dignity

How much lower can Congress’ reputation sink before some sense of urgency — fueled by self-preservation or simply self-respect — convinces leaders that “something” has to change?

The comparative yawn that greeted the latest government shutdown reveals how shockingly little the public now expects from Congress. The recent Edelman Trust Barometer found that trust in major institutions fell more sharply in the United States than in any of the other 28 countries surveyed. The share of Americans expressing faith in their government fell 14 points in the past year, to an alarming 33 percent.

Opinion: 2018 Could Be Oddly Productive
Who says Congress can’t get things done during an election year?

As we enter 2018, the pundit class is already pushing the usual refrain that nothing important gets done in an election year. It is always safe to be cynical in uncertain times, and low expectations have an undeniable appeal. But history does not support the premise that legislative achievements occur only in odd years. Moreover, I challenge anyone to say that 2018 won’t be odd.

The theory of election year incapacitation harks back to a time when lawmaking had a strategic cadence. Members of Congress would focus on policy for 18 months and then shift their concern to re-election. Now, our democracy exists in a constant election cycle. New members of Congress hold fundraisers before taking the oath of office, and the tyranny of our digital society ensures that every vote, utterance and facial expression becomes campaign fodder. While this perpetual election has many grim implications, it also has served to diminish the distinction between “on” and “off” years.

To Improve Decision-Making, Lighten Up on Lobbyists | Commentary

As Congress prepares to leave town and disillusioned voters get ready to trudge toward the midterm elections, party leaders on both sides of the aisle are making the usual promises that if elected, they will do things better. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has promised to re-empower committees, noting that a “sense of mutual respect is necessary for constructive dialogue.” Following President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised a return to a bottom-up, subcommittee- and committee-driven process. But no matter who triumphs in November, our leaders will once again get a chance to establish the rules and tenor that will guide the next two years.

Grumet: Super Congress Needs to Finish Panel’s Work

In the weeks since the failure of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, U.S. debt has grown by roughly $40 billion.

At a time of great anxiety about the future of our nation, one thing is painfully clear. Absent Congressional action, our indebtedness will increase inexorably until the point that our society will be forced to change in ways that are neither gradual nor graceful.