Vol. 41, No. 3

A Note from the Chairman Emeritus

Two hundred and twenty years ago this summer, fifty five delegates from America’s thirteen states locked themselves in a room in Philadelphia to hammer out a new Constitution for our Nation.

The Search for Common Ground – A Q&A with Howard Baker

The former Tennessee Senator discusses a bipartisan effort he is leading to break the political logjam and forge a consensus on some of the key challenges facing our Nation.

The Truth about Congressional Gridlock

He spent 40 years in Congress. Now, the former House Republican Leader writes the institution is suffering from neglect and proposes some reforms that, he says, are long overdue.

The Making of the President’s Health Plan 2008

Recent calls for universal health coverage remind some of similar proposals made during the 1992 presidential campaign. But differences exist in today’s debate, and the chances for sweeping reform are slim.

Bloomberg Tackles Poverty

The Mayor of New York establishes a public-private partnership to help his city’s less fortunate. His plan is bipartisan and innovative. But will it work?

Finding Consensus on an International Counter-Narcotics Strategy

According to the Ranking Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, politics is standing in the way of a plan to stem the flow of drugs into America.

The AMT: Not Such a Minimal Tax

The Alternative Minimum Tax is affecting more and more moderate income taxpayers. The solution does not lie in raising taxes on others, but rather in broader reform of the tax code itself.

The Road to Fundamental Immigration Reform

Congress is on the verge of reforming an immigration system that is 40 years old. An assessment of the legislation, from the politics of the measure to what it will achieve.

Hoping for a Medicare Miracle

This year’s Medicare Trustees’ Report once again found the system in trouble. Because of a new law, however, the President now has to do something about it.

Making Government Work

In an excerpt from a speech delivered this past April, America’s Comptroller General discusses the need to transform the federal bureaucracy so it better meets the demands of 21st century life.

Form Follows Function

Senator Joe Lieberman’s decision to change the seating chart on his Committee drew chuckles. But it also served a purpose.

Ripon Profile of M. Jodi Rell

The party must move to the center – cease polarizing every issue – and listen more closely to everyday people.

A Note from the Chairman Emeritus

Two hundred and twenty years ago this summer, fifty five delegates from America’s thirteen states locked themselves in a room in Philadelphia to hammer out a new Constitution for our Nation.   

Four months later, in September, they emerged with an agreement.  No one had been allowed inside the room during their deliberations.  James Madison took notes; others shared their thoughts through correspondence.  A transcript of the proceedings, however, does not exist.   

But it’s safe to assume the debate wasn’t pretty.  Egos were involved. Fortunes were involved.  Political futures were involved.  Yet somehow, the delegates managed to put aside their differences and reach consensus on a framework for government that was revolutionary for its time. 

Today, that same governing framework still exists.  But reaching that type of political consensus seems to be a thing of the past.  Clearly, there are exceptions.  But increasingly, partisanship has become the coin of the realm in our Nation’s capital, and distrust between the parties abounds. 

In this edition of the Forum, we look at some of the reasons for that, and some of the solutions being pursued.  We gear our coverage of this topic around two of the most widely respected former legislators in Washington – former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and former House Republican Leader Bob Michel.   

In a Q&A, Senator Baker talks about a bipartisan effort he is helping lead to break find common ground on some of the key issues facing our country.  In an essay that follows, Leader Michel discusses gridlock in Congress and some ideas he has to reform the institution. 

This edition of the Forum also looks at some other topics that are making news or will be making news in the coming months, including the debate over health care on the presidential campaign trail and the Bloomberg plan to fight poverty in New York. 

As with all editions of our journal, we hope you enjoy what you read, and hope you will not hesitate to write us at editor@riponsociety.org with any comments you may have.

Bill Frenzel
Chairman Emeritus
Ripon Society