My Plan to Shake Up Washington

By David McCormick
Real Clear Pennsylvania
May 15, 2024

Founding Father George Mason warned that the power of the United States Senate must be checked and balanced. The upper chamber of Congress, he said, would be like a “screw in mechanics, working its way by slow degrees, and . . . should ever be suspected of an encroaching tendency.” Sadly, many Pennsylvania voters today might use the word “screw” and “Senate” in the same sentence as well – and for many of the same reasons.

Mason’s fears were justified: the Senate is a failure, unable to fix itself or the dysfunction in Washington. Millions of American families see the evidence of this failure every day, with chaos at the southern border, dramatic price increases at the checkout counter, and anti-Semitic, anti-American hatred spewed across our college campuses.

After more than 20 years as a leader in the private sector, I know a “turnaround” situation when I see one. Solving these massive problems requires shock therapy in our nation’s capital – and that includes retiring ineffective career politicians like Sen. Bob Casey who helped create this mess.

Unlike my opponent, I’m an outsider who knows how to confront reality, develop a plan, and make the necessary, hard choices to get things back on track. That starts with addressing the root causes driving Washington’s stagnation: a toxic political culture; an entrenched bureaucracy that resists change; and misguided incentives.  

Here is my plan to shake up Washington.

First, we must take on the culture of Washington. Politicians and bureaucrats there grandstand and push their favored talking points while skirting responsibility for rising prices and regulatory decisions that make families in communities like Bloomsburg, PA, where I grew up, worse off. This lack of accountability would never fly in the business world.

An important step for creating a culture of accountability is to make it easier to fire nonperforming bureaucrats. Far too many in our government are self-interested and insulated from a competitive, merit-based process for hiring and firing. Fixing this will make government more accountable and better.

We also should relocate federal agencies closer to the people they serve. Let’s bring the Department of Energy to Pittsburgh, so the bureaucrats who regulate energy projects can work among people who understand fracking and LNG. And we should reinstate President Trump’s decision to move the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado.

The federal government should stop focusing resources and attention on misguided ideological agendas like diversity, equity, and inclusion. Congress should reject the tens of millions of dollars the Biden administration is requesting for DEI. Instead, let’s enforce laws that protect Americans, like removing foreign nationals who incite violence or endorse terrorist activity.

Second, we must rein in federal overreach. Traveling across our Commonwealth, I consistently hear from farmers and small business owners that their biggest problem, other than inflation, is overregulation. Federal regulations cost our economy nearly $2 trillion each year. That’s money that isn’t going into paychecks or being invested to create new jobs.

Let’s restore President Trump’s executive order that required cutting two regulations for every new one added. We should also explore letting citizens challenge rules through an expedited process, putting the burden on agencies to prove that their regulations are in the public interest.

Congress also needs to impose stronger checks on agencies to ensure significant regulations get proper scrutiny. It’s crazy that we have a system where naming post offices requires action by both chambers of Congress, but regulations that cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars can go into effect without a vote.

Third, we must radically improve congressional effectiveness. Congress is becoming less productive and failing to serve as a crucial check on the executive branch. It is passing barely half as many laws each year as it did during the 1980s. And what does it say about the state of the institution that the most popular profession for former members is lobbying?

Turning around Congress starts with term limits. The Founders never imagined that Congress would become an institution filled with career politicians who stay on well past retirement age. Yet more than one-third of Senators are 70 or older. If I am elected to the Senate, I will serve no more than two terms. When I’m done, someone else can try. That’s how it should work.

We also need to prevent members from using their positions to enrich themselves. More than a third of members of Congress or their immediate families actively trade stocks and other financial assets, even when they sit on committees that oversee the companies they invest in. We should ban this activity as well as lobbying by former members and their families.

Bringing accountability and sanity to Washington won’t happen overnight. It’ll take electing a new generation of leaders who don’t owe anybody anything and aren’t afraid to break things. Career politicians like Sen. Casey have become part of the problem rather than showing the leadership needed to solve it. Only by electing outsiders like me to shake up Washington can we restore the self-government that Americans and Pennsylvanians deserve.