Vol. 57, No. 1

In this edition

With our nation approaching the third anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdown, the latest edition of The Ripon Forum examines the state of pandemic preparedness in America and the fact that our country has fewer doctors than virtually every other developed country in the world.


The United States has fewer physicians per capita than virtually every other developed country. At first glance, our lack of physicians is a puzzle. 

Protecting the Doctor-Patient Relationship

Many health care practices we consider essential are slowly becoming things of the past or recent memory.

We Are Not Ready for the Next Pandemic. That’s A Choice.

Hundreds of Americans are still dying each day from COVID-19, while the next pandemic could strike at any time – and be much more deadly. In many ways we are even less prepared than before COVID-19.

Not Accountable

Philip Howard returns with a new book about government dysfunction and a bold recommendation for reform.

Keys to a Successful Congress: Leaders who lead, and Committees that are allowed do all the work

The new 118th Congress convened last month amid searing speculation about what good will come out of it. 

Our Laboratories of Democracy Can Improve the Republic

How states are leading the way on election reform 

A Mechanism to Reduce Spending That Once had Joe Biden’s Support

“When adopted,” then-Senator Joe Biden stated, “it will provide Congress with an essential tool for reviewing the need for Federal programs.”

Don’t Repeal the Law That Created the Internet

Without Section 230, as one leading appellate judge (a Republican appointee) put it, websites would “face death by ten thousand duck-bites.”

Section 230 is the counter-productive U.S. policy and law that makes Big-Tech unaccountable.  

As the Internet evolves, so must the law and policy regarding it.

Ripon Profile of Darin LaHood

The Representative of Illinois’ 16th Congressional District discusses his time in Congress and his legislative priorities.

Ripon Profile of Darin LaHood

Name and occupation: Darin LaHood, U.S. Representative, 16th District of Illinois.

You’ve been in office for eight years now. What’s been the toughest part of the job during that time?  Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-mandated closures brought forth unprecedented challenges for our country and our communities in Illinois. Small businesses, schools, and our everyday lives were ground to a halt. Even in the Capitol, work largely became remote and we all had to learn to adapt, but still support the American people, provide constituent service, and legislative effectively.  I am proud that Congress was able to rise to the challenge and support the needs of our constituents, but I am glad that we are now fully reopen, legislating in person, and conducting the business the American people sent us here to accomplish.

And the most rewarding part? Is there a victory or experience you’ve had that made it especially worthwhile?  One of the most rewarding parts of my job is getting to help people ever day in Illinois through our casework and constituent services. Providing high quality constituent services and communication is one of the most important things we do as a Member of Congress. Whether it’s veteran’s issues or helping constituents navigate the IRS or Social Security Administration, it is incredibly rewarding to assist folks in Illinois who need support from the federal government.

Additionally, I really have enjoyed being a member of the House Intelligence Committee for the past two years. Working with the brave men and women who protect our nation in our Armed Forces and Intelligence Community makes our work incredibly rewarding. There are individuals in Washington, D.C, around the country, and across the globe working to protect us that most Americans will never see or know about. Supporting their mission has been some of the most rewarding work I’ve done in my career.

Closer to home, I have been a longtime champion of supporting and updating our rural inland infrastructure. I, along with my colleagues, have been able to support updates to outdated locks and dams, roads, and bridges that help serve constituents and communities in rural, sometimes overlooked, areas. I am proud to represent many hardworking rural communities in Illinois.

What are your top three legislative priorities in the 118th Congress?  I am honored to receive numerous committee appointments this Congress that will provide opportunities to engage in many important policy discussions.

As Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Work and Welfare, I will prioritize policies that strengthen child and family care, ensure effective and accountable use of taxpayer money, reinvigorate our workforce, and address the rampant COVID-era unemployment fraud. The Ways and Means Committee will play a key role this Congress, working to get our economy back on track, bolstering trade opportunities for Illinois agriculture producers, expanding access to rural health care, building off the successes of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and reducing inflation.I was also appointed to the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP is a strategic competitor and presents growing economic and military challenges to the United States. Now more than ever, Congress must work in a bipartisan way to strengthen American economic competitiveness, bolster and secure our supply chains, promote our trade interests and leadership in the Indo-Pacific, modernize our technology, and protect our national and cyber security against China.

Lastly, I will prioritize policies that strengthen our agriculture communities in Illinois and support our farmers. Agriculture remains the number one industry in Illinois, and our farmers work tirelessly to feed and fuel our country. With upcoming Farm Bill negotiations, I will advocate for policies that support Illinois farmers and bolster trade opportunities through my work on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee.

As the father to three young men, what would you like your children to remember about this moment in history?  I’m proud to be a dad to three teenage boys and enjoy getting outdoors with them, supporting their sports and extracurricular activities at school and at home, and encouraging their ongoing appreciation for service.

My kids live in unique and sometimes trying times, much different than when I was their age, with iPhones and a 24/7 news cycle. This was particularly true when they were confined to school and home during the pandemic. But I have never been more optimistic about the future of our country and our future generations. I tell my boys all the time that we live in the greatest country in the world with smart, intuitive, curious, and innovative young people who want to improve the communities they live in and believe in the American dream.

When my boys grow up and reflect back on this time in history, I hope they remember that we are Americans first, above all else. Despite our differences, we should always look to see the best in others and when we work together anything is possible in this country.