Congress, Partisanship & Paralysis

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. (AP)

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Here’s a scary sense that grips a lot of the nation and, we’re told, a lot of the world: the United States has become dysfunctional at fixing problems just when everything needs to be repaired. Health care, energy policy, infrastructure, education, banking — you name it.

Fingers can point at a lot of reasons for paralysis. Many are pointed at Congress.

It’s got hyper-partisan politics, big money interests all over, a 60-vote bar to clear in the Senate, and a load of dangerous gridlock.

This hour, On Point: Where’s Congress when we need it?


Joining us from Washington is Thomas Mann, Congressional scholar and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is co-author, with Norman Ornstein, of “The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track.”

Joining us from Williamsburg, Va., is Larry Evans, professor of government at the College of William and Mary. From 1991 to 1993 he worked in the office of Rep. Lee H. Hamilton and on a bipartisan Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress. He’s at work on a book about partisan coalition building on Capitol Hill.

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