Saturday, June 23, 2018

STAFF MATTERS

[Staff of Rep. Arlen Stangeland (R-MN) 1978.  Scot Faulkner is 5th from left]

"CONSTITUTING AMERICA" SERIES ON CONGRESSIONAL HISTORY

A bill becomes a law only through collaboration, communication, and teamwork.

Members of Congress are pulled in many directions. Members must be Members, which means they attend hearings, participate in legislation via debate and voting, and communicate with their constituents. Members, who want to remain Members, must be perpetual candidates, which means raising funds, working with their campaign team, involving themselves with national, state, and local officials within their political party, and engaging organized special interests that provide funds, endorsements, and resources. Members are increasingly Ambassadors to a sprawling government, meaning their offices are “embassies” representing the interests of their constituents to federal officials and guiding their constituents through the federal labyrinth to obtain government benefits, regulatory relief, and due process.

No one person can handle all these roles. That is why Congressional Staff exist.

Members during the first seventy years under the U.S. Constitution, performed their diverse duties themselves. The Federal government was small and legislative sessions were short.

Just before the American Civil War, the size, scope, and complexity of the Federal Government had grown to a point where full time staff began supporting Members. The first staff were attached to major committees. Many of these were clerical staff to take notes and help draft legislation. Even during the busy period of Post-Civil War Reconstruction and Westward expansion, such as 1867, the Congress only passed 30 bills and 41 resolutions a year.

By the end of the 19th Century Congress had only 146 staff members: 37 Senate personal staff, 39 Senate committee staff, and 62 House committee staff (37 of whom only worked during congressional sessions). In 1893, the House approved the first personal staff for its Members.

The Populist and Progressive movements ignited government regulation of America’s burgeoning economy. New federal agencies meant dramatic increases in spending and the need for vigorous Congressional oversight of Executive Branch activities.

Except for limiting government during the Administration of President Calvin Coolidge, the role, scope, and size of the federal activities grew rapidly and never stopped. Congress introduced, considered, and passed more and more laws facilitating this expansion. By the early 1970s over 26,000 legislative bills and resolutions were being introduced during each two-year Congress.

Congressional staff expanded to support Members. Members, torn by their multiple responsibilities, deferred increasingly to their staffs.

Today, approximately 14,000 employees work on House and Senate leadership, committee, and personal staffs.

Each Congress begins, on its first day of existence, with establishing its governing rules. This includes setting personal staff levels and authorizing a standard amount funding each office to pay that staff.

The personal staff of a Senator or Representative are people who take the lead in handling the multiple roles of each Member. Staff conduct “Case work” to help constituents receive the services, benefits, and due process they deserve. Receptionists welcome visitors and help them access special tours and events through the Nation’s Capital. Administrative and technical staff manage office operations and information resources. District staff provide similar services within the Members’ home area, including attending countless meetings with local officials and interest groups.

The heart of a Congressional staff is the legislative team. These individuals spend sometimes 100 hours a week carrying out the original purpose of representative government. A mix of young enthusiastic newcomers, fresh from college, work closely with seasoned professionals who may spend their entire careers working in Congress.

Ideally, a Senator’s or Member’s legislative team become the alter-ego of those they serve. They anticipate the Member’s needs. They become intimately knowledgeable of the issues most important to the Member and their constituents. As a Member gains seniority, the legislative team will grow with the Member and help them become a recognized leader on selected policies.

Legislative staff become the Member’s intellectual annex. They attend briefings, cultivate relationships with policy experts, and build their own collaborative networks among other Member staffs, lobbyists, and the media. They become invaluable in alerting the Member to opportunities and threats relating to the Member’s core interests and his or her’s constituents.

Legislative staff will collaborate with their network, including associates within Congressional leadership and committees, to manage the legislative process for their Member. At the basic level, legislative staff will “triage” pending legislation into its level of importance to the Member. This may include recommendations on how to vote on procedural motions and amendments, taking input from their Party’s leadership.

Legislation that is more important to a Member may require the legislative staff to draft amendments and speeches. The best staffers are ghostwriters, whose words so closely reflect the Member’s thinking and speaking, few will ever know where the staffers’ words end and the Members’ begin.

Ultimately, an issue requires the Member to take the initiative. The legislative staff will develop a strategy, which may include writing and introducing new legislation. At this level the legislative staff becomes a campaign team, mobilizing support from other Members, garnering endorsements and commitments from lobbyists and interest groups, engaging the media, and orchestrating hearings and media events to move the legislation forward.

It is no wonder that the most effective among the legislative staffers in Congress are highly sought after by outside interests and lobby groups. Such “super stars” can earn far more “on the outside” and some make the leap to the private sector.

Therefore, It is truly inspirational when a legislative staffer completes their career in Congress after many years of serving the Legislative Branch. They are the true “institutionalists” who maintain the culture of professionalism and pass their knowledge and commitment to the next generation.

[Scot Faulkner advises corporations and governments on how to save billions of dollars by achieving dramatic and sustainable cost reductions while improving operational and service excellence. He was the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. He started his Congressional career as an intern for Rep. Don Young (R-AK), then served on the legislative staffs of Rep. Arlen Stangeland (R-MN) and Rep. John Ashbrook (R-OH). Faulkner later served on the White House Staff and as an Executive Branch Appointee.]

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Blue Wave in November? I Doubt It!


[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]
All of the pundits seem to feel that there is going to be a blue wave this November, and the Democrats are going to trounce the Republicans. Historically, in the off year of a presidential election, the Party in control of the White House loses seats in the Congress. This is not going to happen this November. I do not have any algorithms; I also do not have any computer models. However, what these psephologists and others who perform statistical analyses of elections and polls have not recognized is there has been a paradigm shift in the electorate. The old models are just not going to work anymore. I made this observation, “The Birth of the Electorate Paradigm Shift,” in Citizen Oversight’s August 2015 posting, “…why should we, the electorate, believe any of it? It is the ‘same old – same old’ because the majority of the candidates are calcified bureaucrats … who espouse non-winning strategies.” I wrote that there’s been “…a change in the direction and tone of conversations, interviews, and stump speeches concerning many topics which are of interest to most Americans (not so much politicians – except as it relates to their electability).”
Let’s look at some numbers. In the Senate 35 seats are up for reelection (includes MN and MS special elections); 26 of those seats are held by Democrats, and they need 2 seats to take control. All 435 House seats are up for reelection; probably 215 “favor” Republicans and 200 “favor” Democrats. That means approximately 20 to 25 seats are tossups. Here is where I diverge in my projections from everyone else because I believe the days of Party voting are on the wane. I believe that the electorate is going to be influenced by the people who vote based on the Zeitgeist (German Zeit or “time” and Geist or “Ghost”, specifically, the spirit or invisible force of that period). It will be this defining spirit or mood of the people that will determine the outcome of this election. Included in this assessment are economic issues such as taxation, regulation, employment/unemployment, immigration, terrorism, and social issues. Regardless of regional differences, all will be judged according to what’s happening in Washington.
I think that the midterm elections are going to be decided by those motivated voters who have had enough of the Democratic Party and RINOs and their continued refusal to accept the fact that Donald Trump won the election. Between them and the liberal press, voters have grown tired of only hearing the negatives about the President and our country. In a recent article reported in CNS News, Today's strong economy is the result of President Donald Trump's policies, according to a recent poll by CBS News, which also showed that nearly half of Americans believe Trump is keeping a good number of his campaign promises. …. As for the 2018 congressional elections, 34% said they would prefer to vote for a ‘Republican who is more in line with Donald Trump.’ Only 22% said they would prefer to vote for ‘a progressive of [sic] liberal Democrat.’” The same poll reported that 72% (of Democrats and Independents) want a Democratic candidate who will promote a progressive agenda; 28% want a candidate who will oppose Trump’s agenda. https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/cbs-poll-68-credit-president-trump-current-economy
I have thought about this continued resistance to everything that is “Trump”, and I have finally concluded that the model to explain this is the K├╝bler-Ross model, otherwise known as the five stages of grief. The five stages are: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model Let’s start with the first stage: anger. It would be hard to find anyone who is a Democrat (and some Republicans) who is not angry that Trump won; I have never seen so much anger and hatred after a national election. The second stage, denial, is evident in the fact that Democrats and Republicans (especially RINOs) are trying to completely ignore him by refusing to accept the fact he is the President (and leader of the Republican Party) by trying to circumvent or prevent his programs. The third stage of bargaining is beginning to creep into the National agenda; it appears that Congress and the Democrats sort of realize he is the President and are trying – in some cases – to find common ground. The fourth stage of depression will occur if the Republicans retain control of both the Senate and the House; I am pretty sure this will put the Democrats over the edge. The last stage, acceptance, will occur at some point between 2020 and 2022. In my opinion this might be the most dangerous stage because the Democrats will regroup and try to refocus an agenda that will resonate with the electorate – and not just be an anti-Trump campaign strategy.
I believe that the voters are going to go to the polls this November with the intent of voting out the incumbents – both Republicans and Democrats. I believe that this anger will be more directed at the Senate level; the numbers (presented previously) favor Republicans coming out on top because of the number of seats up for election/reelection. I believe that the house will be less chaotic because it is a more “personal environment (i.e., smaller jurisdictions). There will be some juggling within the incumbency, but overall I believe the Republicans will come close to keeping control of their existing numbers. The 20 or so House seats that are undecided will probably add to the Republican’s majority.
Obviously, a lot can happen between now and November. I’m going to believe that the positive direction present in Trump’s performance is going to continue. The Consumer Confidence Index is increasing, job openings are increasing, and unemployment is declining. Hopefully the positive things that he is doing will be reported on by the media, and people will realize that Trump is really Making America Great Again! And Americans prefer winners who play fairly. When a campaign ad starts off something like “I’m going to show Trump!” – well, you know that person is a loser who will probably not play fair. As far as the anger against incumbents, James Madison, referring to the House of Representatives, wrote in The Federalist Papers, No. 57: “. . . [T]hey can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society. If it be asked, what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? … I answer: the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America -- a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.” While this particular comment is applicable to both parties, the point is that the electorate is upset – and this is just one more reason. Also, according to the latest Gallup Poll, 17% approve of the way Congress is doing their job, but 79% disapprove. Blue wave – I don’t think so, but I do think that somebody’s going to pay!
Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr. earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and his Master of Business Administration degree from Mary Washington College. He is the former Associate Administrator of Information Resources for the U.S House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Monday, June 4, 2018

MID TERMS MATTER

CONSTITUTING AMERICA” SERIES ON CONGRESSIONAL HISTORY
The definition of a Midterm Election is that it is held mid-way through the term of the President. While not on the ballot, the President’s electoral mandate and actions to fulfill that mandate, are validated or challenged by voters as they elect members of the Legislative Branch.

Midterms were created as the solution to a fundamental issue in the founding of America:
What is the balance between responsive and responsible government?

The authors and advocates of the U.S. Constitution wrestled with this balance.

One the one hand, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, writing as “PUBLIUS”, asserted in their essays advocating for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, that frequent elections guaranteed Congress’ elected Members responding to the will of the people.

Federalist No. 52:
First. As it is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people, so it is particularly essential that the branch of it under consideration should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people. Frequent elections are unquestionably the only policy by which this dependence and sympathy can be effectually secured…. It is a received and well-founded maxim, that where no other circumstances affect the case, the greater the power is, the shorter ought to be its duration.”

Guaranteeing responsiveness and accountability also needed to be tied to short terms in office.

FEDERALIST No. 57:
The House of Representatives is so constituted as to support in the members an habitual recollection of their dependence on the people. Before the sentiments impressed on their minds by the mode of their elevation can be effaced by the exercise of power, they will be compelled to anticipate the moment when their power is to cease, when their exercise of it is to be reviewed, and when they must descend to the level from which they were raised; there forever to remain unless a faithful discharge of their trust shall have established their title to a renewal of it.”

On the other hand, Hamilton and Madison worried that too frequent elections would create instability.

Federalist No. 62
The mutability in the public councils arising from a rapid succession of new members, however qualified they may be, points out, in the strongest manner, the necessity of some stable institution in the government. Every new election in the States is found to change one half of the representatives. From this change of men must proceed a change of opinions; and from a change of opinions, a change of measures. But a continual change even of good measures is inconsistent with every rule of prudence and every prospect of success. The remark is verified in private life, and becomes more just, as well as more important, in national transactions.”

Hamilton and Madison raised an issue they considered worse than instability - arbitrary and capricious public policy. They sought a structural solution, “necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions.” [Federalist 63]

Hamilton and Madison’s solution was to have two separate bodies within the Legislative Branch, one of which would have longer terms of service. “The proper remedy for this defect must be an additional body in the legislative department, which, having sufficient permanency to provide for such objects as require a continued attention, and a train of measures, may be justly and effectually answerable for the attainment of those objects.’ [Federalist 63]

The Senate, having six year terms for its members, would be a defense against, “particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn.” [Federalist 63]

Hamilton and Madison cited the importance of deflecting transitory and ill-thought public passion throughout history. “What bitter anguish would not the people of Athens have often escaped if their government had contained so provident a safeguard against the tyranny of their own passions? Popular liberty might then have escaped the indelible reproach of decreeing to the same citizens the hemlock on one day and statues on the next.” [Federalist 63]
They concluded that not only terms of service, but the cycles of elections would create the proper balance to assure responsive and responsible democracy: “when compared with the fugitive and turbulent existence of other ancient republics, very instructive proofs of the necessity of some institution that will blend stability with liberty.” [Federalist 63]
Their solution is embedded in the U.S. Constitution.

ARTICLE I; Section 3

1: The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof,3 for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
2: Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year;

The combination of having the entire Membership of the House of Representatives face the electorate every two years, and only a third of the Senate submit to re-election every two years created Midterm Elections.

Throughout American history, Midterm Elections have reshaped Presidential agendas, ended or launched new political movements, and marked watershed moments in the civic culture of the nation.

The 1858 Midterm, prior to American Civil War, showcased the fragmentation of the Democrat Party over slavery and catapulted the four-year-old Republican Party into becoming the dominant plurality faction in both the House and Senate. Sixteen years later, Republicans lost 96 House seats and their majority in reaction to the Grant Administration scandals, and the mismanagement of Southern Reconstruction. 

The 1894 Midterms heralded the reemergence of the Republican Party as a new dynamic force that would bring William McKinley to the Presidency in 1896. The voters also blamed President Grover Cleveland for a major economic depression, leading to jobless workers marching on Washington demanding relief. The Democrats lost 116 seats in the House, the largest defeat in history. Fourteen years later, splits in the Republican Party, especially the falling out between old allies, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, triggered Republicans losing 57 seats in the House and 10 Senate seats. This fragmentation worsened, leading to Woodrow Wilson winning the Presidency in 1912 with 42 percent of the popular vote in a three-way race.

The October 1930 Midterm reflected Americans reeling from the Stock Market Crash, facing a deepening Depression, and the collapse of trust in Republicans. The Republican Party lost 49 House and 8 Senate seats. The Republicans barely retained control of Congress by only two votes in the House and one in the Senate. Their Midterm debacle set the stage for the 1932 election, when Republicans lost the White House for twenty years, and lost Congressional power for three generations. Over the next 62 years, Republicans had ten years of intermittent rule in the Senate and led only two separate Congresses in the House.

America redefined itself in the 1994 Midterm elections. President Bill Clinton had overreached on universal healthcare. There was a revitalized Republican Party, fueled by Conservative Talk radio and the visionary leadership and aggressive tactics of Newt Gingrich.

Democrats were shocked, losing 53 House and 7 Senate seats. This brought Republican rule to the House for the first time since the 1952 election, a forty-two year hiatus. Only one Republican Member had served in the previous Republican era - as a House page.

Since 1994, Republicans have dominated the Legislative Branch, even gaining 6 House and 2 Senate seats in the 2002 Midterm, in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Bush Administration unpopularity and Congressional scandals led to voters ending Republican rule in the 2006 Midterms. President Obama’s policy overreach, Conservative Talk Radio, and the rise of digital and social media, brought Republican majorities back to the House in the 2010 Midterms and the Senate in the 2014 Midterms.

No matter the outcome of the 2018 Midterms, the wisdom of those who struck the balance between responsive and responsible government in the U.S. Constitution will once again be vindicated.

[Scot Faulkner advises corporations and governments on how to save billions of dollars by achieving dramatic and sustainable cost reductions while improving operational and service excellence. He served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served on the White House Staff, and as an Executive Branch Appointee.]

Saturday, May 12, 2018

SEEING THE LIGHT


Also published on Newsmax.  #PBMTherapyHeals

Imagine being successfully treated, painlessly and safely, for a wide range of diseases and conditions. Imagine having a cure for chronic pain.

This revolution in health and wellness is already available and will be celebrated on May 16 as the United NationsAnnual International Day of Light.

On May 16, 1960, American physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman, operated the first successful laser, achieving coherent and controllable light waves. This revolutionized manufacturing, communications, and health.

In 1967, Endre Mester in Semmelweis University Budapest, Hungary conducted studies to determine if lasers caused cancer. He shaved the hair from the bodies of mice, divided them into two groups and gave a laser treatment with a low powered ruby laser to one group. They did not get cancer. Instead the hair on the treated group grew back more quickly than the untreated group. The concept of "laser biostimulation" was discovered.

Today, “biostimulation” is known as Photobiomodulation (PBM). It is the process where a specific range of the light spectrum at the right intensity, when directed to the body for the right period of time, can restore the function of stressed cells to normal healthy operation. It is non-invasive, non-toxic, and has no reported side effects.

There are over 32 trillion cells in the human body. Each cell has hundreds of microscopic factories called mitochondria which combine oxygen with nutrients from the blood stream to make the cellular energy called ATP. This energy is used to help the cell live and to conduct its various roles in our body: keeping the heart beating, the brain thinking, the body moving, and the all the other functions that keep us alive and healthy.

Mester’s discovery was an epiphany. If specific light band waves can help cells to regrow hair, can they wake-up cells to do other things? Now over five-hundred human clinical trials and 4,000 laboratory studies have shown the answer to be an overwhelming YES!

PBM is now a common veterinary treatment for improving the lives of animals suffering from hip dysplasia and kidney failure. Throughout the world, forward thinking Doctors and Dentists are using PBM to successfully treat Oral Mucositis (side effect from chemotherapy), Dry Macular Degeneration, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons Disease, Lyme Disease, and diabetic wounds. It also reduces pain and inflammation in various orthopedic conditions such as tendonitis, neck pain, low back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Chronic pain costs Americans over $635 billion a year in additional healthcare costs and lost productivity. PBM is used for recovery and endurance by champion athletes. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, many Nike sponsored athletes used a whole body PBM product called NovoTHOR to help them train, recover, and win more medals. This led NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA teams to add “light beds” to their training regime.

A growing number of doctors and public health officials are exploring PBM therapy as an alternative pain treatment to Opioids. This may help solve the addiction crisis facing America.

If PBM is so effective, why is not everywhere?

Outside of the U.S. it is. Australia, Canada, England, the European Union, and NATO all recognize PBM, promote its use, and accept insurance coverage. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is slowly moving towards regulatory clearances for PBM light equipment to officially treat diseases and conditions. Currently, the FDA labels PBM devices in the basic category of infrared or heat lamps.

Until the FDA moves forward, U.S. insurance companies, except for a few BCBS affiliates, refuse to reimburse for PBM treatments. They remain a solid wall of resistance.

Medicare and Medicaid refuse to reimburse for PBM treatments. Federal Officials have labeled PBM “mumbo jumbo” and declared its successes placebo effect”.

The International Day of Light is an opportunity to alert everyone who could benefit from PBM therapy of its existence and promise. It is a time to ask public officials about ways to bring PBM into the mainstream of American healthcare. It is a time to ask your Doctor, Dentist, Veterinarian, and local gym/wellness center if they offer PBM therapy and if not, why not.

May 16 is an annual reminder that bringing light therapy into healthcare is long overdue.

It is up to all of us, for ourselves, our families, and our communities, to make the promise of light a reality.

[Scot Faulkner advises global organizations and universities on healthcare reform and innovation. He served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served on the White House Staff, and as an Executive Branch Appointee.]

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

GINGRICH REVISITED

Swearing-in 104th Congress - January 4, 1995

CONSTITUTING AMERICA” SERIES ON CONGRESSIONAL HISTORY

Newt Gingrich is the most consequential Republican Speaker in history. He revitalized a failed Republican Party, forging the first GOP Congressional majority in forty years.

During his tenure, Gingrich revolutionized House operations, including bringing the Legislative Branch into compliance with all federal laws.

Republican Speakers have a rich history of shaping Congress. Two of the three House Office Buildings are named after Republican Speakers. Rep. Joseph Cannon (R-IL) remains the single most powerful Speaker in House history (1903-1911). Rep. Nicholas Longworth (R-OH) broke with Teddy Roosevelt to defend the Republican Party in the 1912 election and then broke with President Herbert Hoover to defend American taxpayers against the growth of big government (1925-1931).

Rep. Thomas Reed (R-ME) comes closest to Gingrich’s impact on the Legislative Branch. Reed was known for his communication ability, and his mastery of parliamentary procedure. As speaker (1889-1891/1895-1899) he mustered both of these skills to bring the House of Representatives back into alignment with the original rules written by Thomas Jefferson. Many consider his success assured the “survival of representative government”. [1]

Newt Gingrich was born and raised in Georgia. His early career as a professor of history and geography at the University of West Georgia well prepared him for the many times he would reference America’s founding principles during his political career.

In 1978, Gingrich became the first Republican to win Georgia's 6th Congressional District. Once in office, he learned parliamentary combat and the power of well-timed words from Rep. John Ashbrook and the conservatives of the Chesapeake Society. [2]

When many of Chesapeake conservatives followed President Reagan into the Executive Branch, Gingrich formed the “Conservative Opportunity Society” (COS). This became a rallying point for those wanting to make the House Republicans stand for something. [3]

COS members took the skills learned from Rep. John Ashbrook and the older conservative “street fighters” and added their own knowledge of using the media. Live coverage of House sessions had only been available to cable television audiences since March 1979 when CSPAN began to broadcast the House signal.

Through ingenious use of the one-minute speeches, that led the daily sessions, and the special orders, which ended the legislative day, Gingrich and the COS began to build a television audience. In the days before Rush Limbaugh and other conservative media personalities, the COS shows obtained a conservative “cult” following. The COS members became popular icons to a new generation of young conservative activists. Speaker O’Neill, in an attempt to humiliate the COS, ordered the House cameras to show the empty chamber that the COS was addressing late at night. This only added to the COS mystique as activists outside of Washington saw the empty chamber as a metaphor for COS members standing courageously alone against the powerful forces of big government.

In 1988, Gingrich launched an ethics complaint against then House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX). He questioned the financial arrangements around Wright’s book, Reflections of a Public Man. Controversy swelled around Gingrich as Democrats attacked him for similar problems with his own 1977 book deal. Such attacks only added to Gingrich’s following among “grassroots” conservatives outside of Washington, DC.

The election of George Bush as president in 1988 led to a historic opportunity for Gingrich. Rep. Dick Cheney (R-WY) had been tapped to become Secretary of Defense. This happened in the wake of the unsuccessful confirmation fight for former Senator John Tower
(R-TX). With Cheney leaving the Minority Whip’s position in March 1989, the opportunity presented itself for a conservative insurgency against Michel’s candidate, Rep. Edward Madigan (R-IL).

Madigan had been the chief deputy minority whip and was viewed as the natural successor to Cheney. Republicans tended to reward people in turn and to shy away from insurgency candidates. This tradition of planned succession was symbolized by having conservative Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) act as Madigan’s campaign manager against Gingrich.

On March 22, 1989, the tradition was shattered as Gingrich was elected by a two-vote margin. “The issue is not ideology; it’s active versus passive leadership,” said Rep. Weber. [4]

Gingrich immediately set about reshaping the opposition of the House. Along with the organizational resources of GOPAC, his personal political action committee, Gingrich built what became know as “Newtworld”. Joe Gaylord, Gingrich’s top lieutenant and then head of GOPAC, ran this interlocking structure behind the scenes. Dan Meyer moved from Gingrich’s personal office to head the Whip’s office. Tony Blankley, a veteran of the White House and active member of various conservative networks during the Reagan years, became the spokesman. A GOPAC consultant, John Morgan, an expert at tracking polls, began weekly assessments of how this new operation, and its aggressive strategy, were working.

The new organization moved the COS’s combative style to center stage. There were weekly “themes” for Members to focus on. This meant floor speeches backed up by fact sheets and talking points that Members could use back in their districts. An “echo-chamber” of opposition, linked to conservative grassroots groups, was becoming a machine. Its goal was to topple the Democrats in 1992 or ’94.

The elections of 1992 disappointed some House Republicans who had hoped for more voter outrage over the scandals of the 102nd Congress. The Republicans were left to ponder both their minority status in the House, and having to deal with a Democrat in the White House.

On December 7, 1992, the Republicans met to sort out their leadership in the 103rd Congress. Michel remained a declining figure among the insurgent House Republicans, but his popularity gave him another two years as minority leader. Gingrich would have to run his opposition effort as Minority Whip. However, Gingrich’s strategy of aggressive opposition received another major boost. Rep. Richard “Dick” Armey (R-TX) defeated Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) for Chairman of the Republican Conference. Another moderate/nonconfrontationalist was defeated and another conservative in favor of total warfare with the House Democrats was elevated to a key leadership position. [5]

Bolstered at the top by Gingrich and Armey, and by Rep. Jim Nussle’s (R-IA) House Reform group - the “Gang of Seven”, the COS, the 103rd Congress witnessed daily exposes of Democrat scandals and malfeasance.

On September 27,1994, Gingrich launched the first “European-style” parliamentary election, by crafting the “Contract with America”. For the first time in American history, a party ran its Congressional candidates based on an inspirational and visionary manifesto.

The “Contract with America” ignited the Republican base, leading to a 54 seat swing propelling the Republicans into power for the first time since 1954.

As Speaker, Gingrich drove the House’s agenda to pass the major elements of the “Contract” within 100 days. This was accomplished. However, Senate inertia and President Clinton’s vetoes prevented most of the “Contract” from becoming law.

Two “Contract” items did become reality, and these changed the Legislative Branch forever. HR 1, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 was the first order of business and the first bill passed in the 104th Congress. For the first time, the Legislative Branch was required to comply with all the laws it had passed. True accountability was achieved as Members had to live under the same laws they had thrust onto Americans. [6]

The other action was creating the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), which consolidated all non-parliamentary and non-security functions within one office. It’s mandate was to reinvent the operations of Congress to make it run like a business, while being completely transparent and accountable. This became the most comprehensive rethinking of Legislative Branch operations since the first Congress met in 1789. Obsolete functions were abolished, others were privatized.


Business practices were institutionalized by a team of corporate transformation experts, with the assistance of major accounting firms. Another team of computer experts implemented the “Cyber Congress”, which thrust House communications into the 21st Century in one giant leap. The result was a lean, customer-focused, accountable operation that saved $186 million and became the model for support services in 44 parliaments around the world. The reforms were so thorough and effective, that they remain in place to this day.


Gingrich’s policy and budget confrontations with President Bill Clinton defined the balance of his tenure. Government shutdowns and other brinksmanship forced reforms in welfare and taxes, and reduced the federal budget deficit.

Conservatives became concerned over Gingrich’s seeming loss of focus and the mounting attacks by Democrats. House Appropriators angered conservatives over being increasingly enamored with spending and earmarks. House “revolutionaries” tried to reverse things. On July 16, 1997 a small band of “true believers”, along with Delay and Armey, mounted a revolt against Gingrich. This ill-fated “palace coup” weakened both the plotters and the Speaker. [7]

In December 1998, after a disappointing showing in the November elections, Gingrich announced he would not seek re-election as Speaker and would resign from the House. [8]

The looming impeachment of Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal further confused the situation. Rep. Bob Livingston (R-LA), the Chair of the Appropriations Committee and assumed to be the next Speaker, shocked the Chamber by resigning as his own extramarital affair became public. Amongst the chaos, Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) became Speaker. [9]

Since leaving the House of Representatives, Gingrich remains an insightful commentator and provocative thinker. Returning the House to the rule of law, and being highly responsive to the will of the voter, remain lasting historic achievements that strengthened our democracy.

NOTES

[1] A vivid chronicle of Reed’s battle for parliamentary integrity and accountability can be found in Barbara Tuchman’s, The Proud Tower. Ballantine Books, 1962; pages 125-130

[2] Faulkner, Scot, Naked Emperors. Rowman & Littlefield, 2008; pages 81-82.

[3] Ibid., page 25

[4] Komarow, Steven (March 22, 1989). "House Republicans Elect Gingrich to No. 2 Spot, Chart Battle with Democrats". Associated Press

[5] Op. Cit. Faulkner p. 27.


[7] Op. Cit., Faulkner p. 294.

8] Gingrich, Newt (1998). Lessons Learned the Hard Way. Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 159–160.


[Scot Faulkner advises corporations and governments on how to save billions of dollars by achieving dramatic and sustainable cost reductions while improving operational and service excellence. He served as the Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served on the White House Staff, and as an Executive Branch Appointee.]