Our American Discourse, Ep. 34: The Eternal Struggle for Power on Capitol Hill

Power is up for grabs in Washington. A controversial President, an unpopular Congress, and a midterm election all make 2018 a battleground for political control. Who will win? How will they do it? And what role do you play? This is story of the most consequential game ever played, and it’s told by one of the leading Congressional experts of our time.

In this episode, Jeffrey A. Jenkins teaches us the strategy of legislative power: who has it, how they get it, what they do with it, and why we should care.

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Bedrosian Book Club Podcast: “The Myth of Independence”

Congressional historian Sarah Binder joins neighbor and investment manager Mark Spindel in a look at the history of the relationship between the Federal Reserve and its legislative parent, Congress. The result is the Princeton University Press book The Myth of Independence: How Congress Governs the Federal Reserve.

Central to the book is the notion that the two institutions are interdependent rather than independent. The authors advocate that through legislation over the years, Congress has set up the Federal Reserve to bear the brunt of blame during times of financial crisis. This blend of political science, history, and economics was a hit for our panel. Why is it important to realize the relationship between Congress and the Fed is interdependent? What roles do transparency and accountability play in the relationship?

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 32: Who Has the Ear of Your Legislators and Why They Can’t Seem to Get Anything Done

We’re six months away from one of the most consequential midterm elections in modern history, and Americans are fed up with Congress. Politicians have gotten a bad rap throughout history, but today’s legislators are setting record lows in approval ratings and public trust. What gives? Why do they disappoint us so often? Are they really ignoring our needs and demands, or are we misunderstanding the challenges they face?

In this episode, Sarah Anderson shows that it’s a little of both: politicians don’t listen to all constituents equally, but they also can’t just snap their fingers and fulfill our wishes.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 27: Why the Federal Reserve Is More Politically Constrained Than You Think

We’ve been having a mistaken debate, or so it would seem based on the new book The Myth of Independence. The Federal Reserve, the nation’s central bank and most influential economic regulator, isn’t as independent as critics like Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders suggest. Congress created it, and Congress continues to shape it to the people’s will. This new perspective might just change your expectations about Fed policy and your appreciation for their delicate strategic work.

In this episode, Sarah Binder discusses the historical research that led to this new thesis and helps us appreciate the interplay between two of America’s most important political institutions.

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Our American Discourse, Ep. 21: How the Senate Can Beat Gridlock—and Why That’s Not Always a Good Thing

Americans are fed up with gridlock. Congress is one of the least popular institutions in the country. So you might think the solution is for legislators to pass major legislation. But what if the solution is even more controversial than the problem? If you’ve heard of “budget reconciliation,” you probably didn’t hear unanimously good things. That’s because it’s a risky game…a fascinating, strategic game deep in the trenches of our democratic tug-of-war.

In this episode, Molly E. Reynolds teaches us how budget reconciliation works, where it came from, how it’s being wielded, and why you should care.

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