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Austin Kim Bailey AP Government 2 16 September 2013 Critical Analysis In Robert Kaisers book, Act of Congress: How Americas

s Essential Institution Works, and How it Doesnt, Kaiser follows the Dodd-Frank Act, which was a financial reform bill in response to the 2008 recession. Throughout the book, Kaiser explains the protocols, politics, and people of Congress while detailing the success of the system, but emphasizes more on its flaws. Flaws such as ignorant or corrupt members of Congress, lobbying, and partisanship are all reasons of the abysmal approval ratings of Congress, and ultimately results in a broken and weak democracy. Addressed in 2009, President Obama introduced a proposal that would change the financial regulatory system due to many people asking for change. The Dodd-Frank Act is an example of how Americas institution seems to be working; Americans had problems and concerns about the financial crisis, the policymakers listened and responded, and later the policies would affect the people. However, Kaiser is arguing that the process itself exposes the flaws in the legislation. Instead of lawful intellectuals making the decision for the betterment of society and whole, they are driven by money, partisanship, and fear. In the House of Representatives, there were 237 in favor and 192 against the act while in the senate there were 60 votes in favor with 39 opposed. The results of these votes clearly show that there are still many people opposed to change. While theyre few individuals where their integrity and knowledge prevails, Congress members who fear certain change or are ignorant on current political and economic details weaken Americas democracy. In certain parts of the book, Kaiser ridicules and is shocked by certain members of Congress. When Missouri Democrat Lacy Clay asks the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve board if legislation should be considered to replenish IRAs and 401ks of those who were hurt by the recession, Kaiser, in disbelief, says, Someone who understood the vagaries of financial markets would not have made this suggestion. Basically what he is implying is that Lucy Clay possesses no understanding or knowledge of financial markets and that any knowledgeable person would know better. Later, Kaiser quotes Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid that the details of Wall Street reform are complex, but then later in a straightforwardly tone says that Reid never really understood them. With this critical tone of these leaders, the shock that these people who are unintelligible of the tasks they are responsible for is one with sadness. These people are the representatives of the general populace, and if the concerns and complicated problems the people have are not understood at the professional level that they should be understood, then the result is a weak policymaking system and ultimately a weak democracy. In addition, members that oppose certain change are sometimes motivated by fear. They fear criticism and their loyalty lies in the political party that they reside in, not the political institution. Kaiser views Dodd and Frank in an admiring manner, praising their willingness to compromise and correct mistakes. When Dodd is negotiating with Senator Richard Shelby, Democratic leaders Harry Reid, Chuck Shumer, Dick Durbin, and Bob Menendez all told Dodd to stop negotioating. Instead of working for compromise, the Democratic leaders would rather

find an issue to beat the Republicans, enforcing the idea that members of Congress have their loyalty to their respective parties and not the whole institution. While there are many flaws and flawed people in the American government, their lack of knowledge on important subjects that impact the majority weaken the government and are reason for the low approval rate of Congress. It is important to understand and put the betterment of society over fear and partisanship.

Works Cited Kaiser, Robert G. 2013. Act of Congress. New York: Knopf