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Big policy changes tough to get through Congress

An article by the conservative Hudson Institute concludes that President Obama has a "policy approach" to governing. Rather than focusing on incremental changes and fixes, Obama prefers comprehensive policies aimed at making systems more rational and coherent. While that may be admirable, columnist David Broder warns that such an approach usually isn't very successful because of the messy legislative process. Congress has 535 members, all with their own agendas or parochial interests. Add in the influence of special interests, and it makes large changes difficult. For example, Broder said, the energy bill started out in the House as a "reasonably coherent set of trade-offs that would reduce carbon emissions and help the atmosphere" and ended up as "a grab bag of subsidies and payoffs to various industries and groups." Broder wrote: "Democracy and representative government are a lot messier than the progressives and their heirs, including Obama, want to admit. No wonder they are so often frustrated."

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