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Lawmaking is Hard Mr. President

Readers of my book, The Golden Years of the Florida Legislature, will recall my disclosure of my secret mentor, Republican Senator Jerry Thomas (R. Jupiter). Since I was a Miami Democrat, no one even suspected a political relationship between us. One of the lessons I learned from the Senator was that laws are hard to make. He added that is good. Lawmaking is very serious and the process of making, reviewing or killing them should be thorough and well studied. In my opinion neither the original Affordable Care Act nor the just aborted rewrite were well studied--by either party. It was said that the President tired quickly of the prolonged negotiations on the legislation.

Donald Trump, like many people without lawmaking experience, belittles the process. Their criticism is without any recognition that experience at the craft matters, as with almost any profession. With his impetuousness and temper, Trump is particularly ill suited for effective governance in Washington. That is not say he could not be an effective President.

Those who have served in the legislative branch at any level learn that there are some fundamental lessons that have to be practiced to be successful...and not just for about 2 short months. So, for President Trump and other arm chair critics of governing in a democracy, here are some fundamentals of Lawmaking:

1. Define the problem or issue carefully including the fiscal impact.

2..Identify the stake holders on the issue--friend, foe, and in between.

3. Invite public comments on the issue from all stakeholders.

4. Isolate and break down all options and solutions.

5. Offer a draft solution for public comment and timelines.

6. Negotiate changes with opponents.

7. Calculate the quality and quantity of support and opposition, and develop strategy to achieve success, including changes considered.

8. Score the fiscal impact of the proposed solution, after changes made.

9. Obtain written pledges of support with a goal of achieving a majority.

10. If the solution to the issue/problem is adopted, shift into an important oversight responsibility.

There are many more lessons that could be added. The list of don'ts in lawmaking is even longer than these do's, but basically what President Trump did after losing the Health Care vote is what should not be done. That includes blaming opponents, making threats, and denying responsibility. In losing, the President could learn from the class behavior of his predecessors in the oval office--from both parties.

Lawmaking is hard and takes time to learn and practice, Mr. President.

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