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The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track
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The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Arguing that congress faces a crisis of self-identity and role in the American Constitutional System, this book examines the first principles of the intended role of the legislative branch, looks throughout history at how congress has fulfilled this role, and considers what can be done to improve it.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 5th 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2006)
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Aparently Mann/Ornstein wanted to have something that didn't come off like a partisan screed. They failed. They basically said, "Well, Democrats created a bunch of bad institutional stuff that wasn't good during their 40 year control of Congress. Then Republicans took over and did it even more. And doing it more is really really bad."

They constantly were saying things were "unprecedented" without explaining how or why and were constantly saying why something that was done was "worse then what h
Steven Peterson
A series of books has looked at the recent poor temper in American politics. This volume is a welcome entry into that literature. The two authors, Thomas Mann (of the Brookings Institution) and Norman Ornstein (of the American Enterprise Institute) are long time observers of the American political scenes, with special interest toward and knowledge of the American Congress. The Broken Branch, a co-authored product by the two, reflects their concern that something has gone haywire with Congress.

Fascinating book by 2 long term Congressional watchers. It begins with a history, explaining the Constitutional mandate of Congress as the First Branch of gov't, with actually more power than the Executive or Judicial since it has not only impeachment power, but also the power to enact laws and keep the president in check. Their contention is that since 2000, Congress has fallen down on their jobs, essentially being lackeys to the president---Speaker Dennis Hastert proudly insisted that this is ...more
Stephen Tryon
The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get it Back on Track

This is a terrific discussion of Congress for people who are willing to learn the lingo of insiders. The authors, Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, are veteran political scientists who have spent decades working on congressional staffs or on think tanks dealing with congressional issues. Their assessment, therefore, benefits from their perspective of having watched the good, the bad and the ugly in Congress over an
The authors are long time participants in, and scholars on, the Congress of the United States. They provide an important background on the history of Congress from the days of the framers and then dig into the last 40 years to show where things have gone horribly wrong.

The House of Representatives has become the lap dog of the administration, using majority party controlled rules to limit disclosure, debate and any real semblance of deliberative process. While the Senate has more deliberative ru
The first one-third or so of this is an excellent history of how both houses of congress have evolved into what they are today--the development of rules, procedures, committees, appointments, precedent, etc. After that it's a much less interesting blow-by-blow account of the atrocities committed by both parties after the House and Senate polarized into ideological extremes and lost and sense of the common good and stopped compromising, deliberating, etc. That's all good reporting, but sometimes ...more
Evan Howlett
An interesting read, but extremely dull. The authors seem unable to counter their constant need to re-affirm their collective experiences with Congress, and it gets extremely annoying around page 50. That seriously detracts from what otherwise would be a very candid, if depressing, look at the state of Congress today. I'd recommend this to political enthusiasts used to reading Poli Sci textbooks, as this has as much information as a textbook but unfortunately reads much like one as well.
David Sousa
Excellent overview of profound changes that have taken place in Congress in the past two to three decades, with special emphasis on abuses of power between the 104th and 109th Congresses. Mann and Ornstein are part of the Washington establishment, serious students of Congress who love the institution and bemoan its many failings. It's weak on prescription, but that's largely because the electoral roots of the "Congress problem" can't be addressed through reform.
Although a bit dry in places, no one can argue with the expertise (and evidence) that the authors bring to bear. It's an interesting read that covers the entire Congress, but picks up with increased relevancy as they delve into the past 55 years or so. I think it's accessible to most readers, though I would have liked to seen more suggestions for reform that were "outside of the box."
They depress you with their explanation of how screwed up the legislative branch is, but then bring you back from the brink by giving simple suggestions on how to fix it. I also took comfort from the fact that the authors seemed to like both McCain and Obama (I read this before the election)and identified them as part of the solution rather than the problem.
Good book for understanding and setting the stage for what is happening today. Their next book "it's worse than you think" is a real eye opener from two congressional watchers from different political traditions.
Kept in my work bag and read on and off on breaks when I had time. An interesting history and it's clear Congress is not likely to get back on track soon, especially after the 2014 mid-term elections.
Ryan Mac
Great book about the various failures of Congress in oversight and legislating along with a call for action. Very interesting book and easy read, even for those who don't follow politics very much.
Michael Taylor
Jul 25, 2011 Michael Taylor marked it as to-read
Shelves: u-s-congress
A look at the Congress of the '90s and early '00s which places it in historical context. A book written by insiders who have been studying Congress since 1969.
Great insight into how the Republican Congress bent all the rules to make sure it got what it wanted. These assholes are amazing. Read it.
Anthony Faber
A 2006 book on how Congress has gotten more dysfunctional in my lifetime with some suggestions of how to make it work better.
Fairly dense look at the history of Congress and how it got to be so divided. Interesting stuff.
Accurate representation of the issue..... next years version will be interesting!
Congress is totally broken and dysfunctional, y'all.
I've always wondered, "why does congress do that?" This explains why. The authors, two congressional experts, describe the history and politics of why it is and what needs to change. Required reading for all citizens.
Michael Burns
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