Vol. 48, No. 4

In this edition

According to the latest polls, trust in government is at an all-time low. Depending on who you talk to, this may either be a good thing or a bad thing. For some on the right, it may be a good thing because it is consistent with their core belief that government has gotten too big […]

“We cannot achieve great things alone.”

We need to bridge the ever-growing chasm between the American people and their elected leaders – a rift that has been exacerbated by the Administration’s flagrant executive overreach, a loss of opportunity for middle-class Americans, and a lack of transparency that pervades the federal government.

“Republicans need to show that we can deliver.”

American voters were spectacularly supportive of Republican candidates in this year’s elections. We have 54 Republican Senators and we’ll have more Republicans in the House than at any point since Harry Truman was President. And, it could all be for nothing if we as a Party squander the opportunity we have been given by failing […]

“We can restore the trust and confidence by coming together to find common ground.”

If there is one thing that members on both sides of the aisle can agree on, it is that our country is divided politically. Members of Congress approach issues from different perspectives and come to different conclusions about the best solutions to the problems we face.

“Washington needs to be recalibrated so that it is smaller, less intrusive, and more accountable.”

While it will take substantial time to reverse the problems described above and to restore our country’s exceptionalism, we need to first focus on creating an environment for economic growth. Every piece of legislation and every federal regulation should be judged by its impact on an overarching goal of creating “more jobs and better paychecks […]

Q&A with Michael Dimock

The President of the Pew Research Center discusses the low-level of trust Americans have toward the federal government and how it compares to past years. “The perception of dysfunction in Washington, along with a persistent sense of economic insecurity, is clearly weighing down views of government. And just as with interpersonal relationships, trust in government […]

Want to Improve Trust in Government?

“Should we be surprised that so many Americans hold Congress in such low regard?” The veteran political strategist and former House leadership aide says the public’s view of government is not surprising given the vitriol they are exposed to during political campaigns.

Restore Regular Order

Regular order is Congress doing the basic work of legislating which includes deliberating in committees, engaging with stakeholders, offering and voting on amendments and ultimately passing or rejecting legislative proposals. These cornerstones of the democratic process were not hallmarks of the 113th Congress.

The Michigan Example on Immigration

Our country needs a long-term, comprehensive solution to an immigration policy that everyone knows is broken and continues to hold back our economy. It’s essential that the White House and Congress work together on an innovative approach that will address our country’s present needs as well as those long into the future.

Where Consensus Exists

Was the end of this election the beginning of a period committed to governance or merely the beginning of the 2016 campaign season, with all of the gridlock and divisiveness that implies? More to the point, can the Congress and the White House earn back the trust our citizens deserve to have in their government?

Frontrunners, Dark Horses, and the Presidential Nomination Contest

Frontrunners don’t always win, but presidential nomination contests are rarely wide-open races. Dark horses don’t emerge from the back of the pack. The 2008 winners were in second place in their respective party’s poll.


If there are wise men left in Washington, then Bill Frenzel was most assuredly one of them. He was both a scholar and a statesman who served his country in many important ways.

Ripon Profile of Mia Love

“I ran for Congress because I believe this country is in real trouble, and it’s up to We the People to fix things before it’s too late. The people of America want a government that is transparent. Our citizens deserve to know and understand the ‘hows and whys’ for decisions made at every level of […]


July 31, 1928 – November 17, 2014

If there are wise men left in Washington, then Bill Frenzel was most assuredly one of them. He was both a scholar and a statesman who served his country in many important ways.

 As a Member of Congress from 1971 to 1991, he was known as a voice for reason and compromise who was respected on both sides of the political aisle. In the years since, he became known as a voice for fiscal responsibility and global trade who was called upon by Presidents for his counsel and expertise on these and other issues.

His service to The Ripon Society was similarly without parallel. Over the years, Bill served as our President and Chairman Emeritus. He also Chaired the editorial board of The Ripon Forum. He led with a steady hand and a leadership style that was marked by intellect, warmth, humor and grace. At the end of every meeting with Bill, you were guaranteed to have two things: consensus — Bill was an expert at bringing people together and finding common ground; and a ‘Frenzel doodle’ — Bill was also a skilled artist, whose intricate and beautiful drawings over the course of a meeting now adorn the walls of many offices in this town, including, fortunately, our own.

Our organization — and, indeed, our country — was richer with his presence and is poorer with his loss.  On behalf of The Ripon Society, we mourn his passing, pay tribute to his life, and extend our thoughts and prayers to his beloved wife Ruthy and their daughters and grandchildren.

On November 19th, his friends and former colleagues in the House of Representatives held a Special Order to remember the life of this great and humble American.  Below are some of the tributes from that night.

Jim Conzelman – President & CEO, The Ripon Society




Mr. Speaker, tonight, I rise with several of my colleagues to honor the work and memory of Congressman Bill Frenzel, who passed away on Monday. Congressman Frenzel represented Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District for 20 years, first elected in 1970 and retiring in 1990.

Actually, Mr. Speaker, many of us tonight had already planned to speak today to express our love and appreciation to Bill from this floor, even before we learned of his death.

Now, it just feels too late, in a way, but one of the benefits of extolling the virtues of people greater than ourselves is that we become better still, so we are keeping with that plan tonight.

I must admit, Mr. Speaker and my colleagues, that as I stand here in this Chamber, where Bill did some of his best work, my heart is more full of emotions than my head is full of ideas, and there are many facts that I could recite about the service of Bill Frenzel; instead, I am going to try to capture the man that I knew, the man that we all knew, and the man that we all truly loved and respected.

Frenzel DoodleWhen I received the news that Bill passed away on Monday, there was a scrap of paper hanging on my wall in my Washington office and also a scrap of paper hanging on my Minnesota wall that became my prized possessions. They are two vintage Frenzel doodles.

There are hundreds of them out there–whimsical, fantastically detailed little drawings that Bill Frenzel did while he was on the phone, while he was in committee meetings, listening to testimony, or during debates. Such was the hyperactivity of this brilliant mind, that when he was required to sit still, his drawing hand had to be moving.

I say that to convey the idea that Bill Frenzel was just more alive than most people that you meet. He was always thinking. He was always creating. He was always pushing positive ideas, and in the interactions that I had with him, it was like he was always leaning forward at you at an angle, like a person walking boldly into a stiff wind.

Bill Frenzel was a serious legislator, often pouring over line by line of the Federal budget. In fact, that practice continued after he left Congress. Every year, he would make a phone call to my office, requesting his copy of the annual Federal budget.

It is amazing to me that anyone would even want this massive document sitting on their bookshelf, but what is truly amazing is that Bill would actually go through this budget line by line for decades after he left this institution.

Bill believed in and dedicated his life to doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and for Bill, the way that he did the greatest good for the greatest number of people was by promoting and advancing international trade.

I suppose it began by looking at the great good being done around the world by many outstanding companies that operate out of the district that we represent in Minnesota, companies that feed and restore health to millions and billions all across the borders of the world.

Bill believed — and he was absolutely right — that there is no force in the modern world that has done more to raise people out of poverty, to foster the spread of human rights, or to expand democracy than international trade.

Within Bill’s own lifetime, the United States and Germany and Japan were mortal enemies, doing terrible violence to each other’s lands and peoples, but through the experience of being trading partners, they have become our best friends and our best allies.

For three decades, there was no stronger advocate for international trade that was more persuasive than Congressman Bill Frenzel. He was the indispensable man, in many ways, in the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has benefited all of the people of our continent immeasurably and has been the model of our agreements now for all over the world.

Just last month, in October, Bill received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle–that is the highest honor of the nation of Mexico that can be given to a noncitizen–in appreciation of his work on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In 2000, he also received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, from the Emperor of Japan for his efforts to advance trade and the U.S. relationship with Japan.

He deserves America’s highest honors as well. He worked across the aisle as a consensus seeker because he understood that relationships matter, that relationships make a difference, especially on the big issues like Social Security reform, budget reform, tax reform, welfare reform, and, of course, trade agreements.

After retiring from Congress in 1991, he became a guest scholar in economic studies at The Brookings Institution, and he remained very active in public policy, being appointed to governmental panels by Presidents on both sides of the aisle.

Just two months ago — in fact, in September, President Obama reappointed him to the White House Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. That is a position that he was first appointed to by President George W. Bush in the year 2002.

He also co-chaired the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan organization dedicated to educating the public about the impact of fiscal policies.

I will just tell you, personally, Mr. Speaker and Members, that I will miss my conversations with Bill Frenzel. I got together with him every three or four months over coffee, where he would share his years of wisdom, his experiences, and his insights that he gained during that tenure in public service.

There is no doubt that he was a good friend and a mentor in many respects; however, there is no temptation for any of us to try to do a Bill Frenzel imitation because there will never be another like him.

For me, Bill absolutely inspires me to be the best that I can be and search for ways that I can do the greatest good to help the greatest numbers of people.

I offer my condolences tonight, Mr. Speaker, to the Frenzel family; to his wife, Ruthy, who was always by his side; and to his three daughters, Debbie, Pam, and Mitty.

I also want to give thanks to Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District voters for electing him in the first place and for giving me an amazing set of shoulders to try to stand upon, as well as my thanks to God for the life and service and the example of Congressman Bill Frenzel.

Erik Paulsen represents the 3rd District of Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives. 




 Mr. Speaker, this past week, we lost one of our former colleagues, Bill Frenzel. Bill served in the House for 20 years, during which he gained a vast amount of knowledge and an even greater amount of respect.

He was a leading voice for fiscal responsibility, serving as the ranking member of the House Budget Committee. He also served on the House Ways and Means Committee, specifically the Subcommittee on Trade. He took on the work with relish, serving as a congressional representative to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in Geneva for 15 years. He was so knowledgeable on the topic that he was indispensable — so much so that after he left Congress, three successive presidents sought his counsel.

Bill’s hard work won him respect in the House and around the world. After he retired from the House, he kept active on fiscal issues, serving as co-chair of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. In 2000, the emperor of Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star. And just this year, Bill received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle. I think other countries saw in Bill the same thing we did — a man who loved his country and wanted it to be a force for good in the world. He understood that trade wasn’t a form of competition so much as a form of collaboration — of countries working together to build a better life. He understood that the free world was stronger when we banded together, and he wanted to strengthen those bonds.

We’ll remember his know-how. We’ll remember his wit. (He once called gridlock the best thing since indoor plumbing.) But most of all, we’ll remember his character. He served his country in both war and peace. He spent his life in public service. He was a Midwesterner, a man of the House, a voice for fiscal responsibility–an American through and through.

Paul Ryan represents the 1st District of Wisconsin in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He serves as Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee.




Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to a friend and former member of the House who passed away on Monday.

Bill Frenzel served the people of Minnesota’s 3rd District for twenty years.  Bill was a Republican.  I am a Democrat.  That difference did not stand in the way of the respect I had for him or our friendship as colleagues in this House.

Though we did not agree on every issue, Bill and I found common ground on our shared concern for fiscal sustainability and the necessity of compromise to achieve bipartisan progress.

As a Korean War veteran, a businessman, and a legislator, Bill exemplified the highest American values of service to community and country.

Frenzel croppedIn the years following his retirement from the House, where he had served as ranking member on the Budget Committee, he continued his service by remaining a powerful voice for bipartisan budget solutions and a more sustainable fiscal future at the Brookings Institution.

He also served as a co-chair of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

We need more people in Washington like Bill who believe strongly in the importance of bipartisan compromise when it comes to our budget and making the tough choices necessary to afford the investments we need to make in a more competitive economic future and greater opportunities for our people.

I join in offering condolences to his wife Ruth and their three daughters — Deborah, Pamela, and Melissa — their grandchildren, and the entire extended Frenzel family.

May Bill’s memory inspire greater bipartisan cooperation in this House in the months and years ahead.

Steny Hoyer represents the 5th District of Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He serves as the Democratic Whip.