Public policy in the U.S. today - and I should include the world at large - is always suggesting action that rarely ever comes.
I think of the process that Congress has undertaken to draft and pass a farm bill. Since the beginning of last year, I have written 79 stores for The Packer’s print edition on the status of farm bill hearings, farm bill testimony, farm bill markup, farm bill committee votes, farm bill floor debate and so on. If you include blog and other online stories, the enumeration of farm bill story lines would crawl higher. This puts me a humble, low orbit compared with agricultural reporting superstars like Chuck Hagstrom of the Hagstrom Report.
Even so, I marvel. I suppose it is the type of existential question that lobbyists and association leaders must ask themselves from time to time. What is all the work and toil all about? Is it for nothing, all these hours of talking to industry advocates and political observers, Congressional aides, administration spokesmen and the occasional chat with an actual member of Congress?
The story is much the same for the effort at immigration reform, a topic for which I have penned 48 stories for The Packer since the beginning of last year. Like the farm bill, the immigration debate has pivoted on the differences in the makeup between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Congress has done a masterful of lowering expectations. We hardly expect them to go on August recess without screwing up. As for coming back and dealing with tough policy issues like the farm bill and immigration, stories number 80 for the farm bill and number 49 for immigration will spring from my fingers to record their efforts - however ultimately futile they may be.