Bigger problems

Saturday, April 8, 2006

The Indianapolis Star

Tom DeLay is going, but the problems plaguing Congress remain.

The Texas Republican has been the most visible symbol of an arrogant, out-of-touch and occasionally corrupt Congress. Yet, DeLay is only a small part of the problem on Capitol Hill.

Commentators in Washington have been preoccupied with what the fallout from the DeLay resignation and other high-profile embarrassments will mean come November. More fundamental, however, is the need to make substantive changes in the way Congress operates.

The first step should be to drastically reduce the number of pork-barrel projects, which have nearly quadrupled in roughly a decade. To further limit influence peddling, Congress should ban third parties from paying for members' and aides' travel.

And to restore honesty to the budgeting process, Congress and the president should have to offset supplemental spending bills (which now are not counted against the deficit) with budget cuts.

The problems besetting Congress run deeper than any one person or party. Restoring public trust will require foundational changes in the way the House and Senate do business.

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