Congressional Oversight

This sounds about right:

Storms Show A System Out Of Balance
GOP Congress Has Reduced Usual Diet of Agency Oversight

Congress… has had little appetite in recent years for executive branch oversight. And now, as lawmakers probe FEMA’s mistakes in responding to Katrina, they are waking up to the consequences of neglect.

Government scholars and watchdog groups say the decline of congressional oversight in recent years has thrown out of kilter the system of checks and balances the Founding Fathers created to keep no one branch of government from becoming too powerful.

…Norman J. Ornstein, a congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute, has a harsher assessment. “This Congress doesn’t see itself as an independent branch that might include criticizing an incumbent administration. Meaningful oversight, because it might imply criticism, has been pushed off the table altogether.”

While this is a trend that has been going on for quite some time, it has certainly become more pronounced during this decade. I think that three key ingredients have combined to stengthen this phenomenon:

  • The same party is in control of both the executive and legislative branches of government;
  • That party has a strong, centralized leadership to which the rank-and-file defer;
  • The leadership of that party has often seemed to be more concerned with party loyalty than with ensuring a well-functioning government.

Put these together, and you’ve created an environment in which government incompetence is allowed to fester and spread, with no fear of accountability.