How have recent reforms within Congress affected the way the institution operates? How has the war on terrorism affected the relationship of power between the President and Congress? How might the 2012 election results affect the direction of Congress over the next few years?
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It is uncertain precisely what "recent reforms" have been implemented by Congress either involving the way Congress operates or the way elections are conducted. The only substantive "reform" to which this educator is aware that involves Congress' inner workings eliminated, for the most part, the practice of adding tens of billions of dollars to spending bills every year for projects that benefit the constituents of individual congressional districts, but which were not vetted by any federal agency for appropriateness or subjected to any kind of rigorous analysis by Congress. This practice, known as "earmarking," and, more traditionally, as "pork-barrel spending," has in fact cost the American taxpayer hundreds of billions of dollars over the years while providing little to no benefit to the country as a whole. In 2009, a movement begun by Republicans in the House of Representatives, which, under the U.S. Constitution, originates all spending bills, to eliminate the practice of adding earmarks to annual appropriations bills began to gain strength as public anger over the size of the federal deficit grew. In 2010, the elimination took effect. To the best of this educator's knowledge, no other meaningful, or even superficial reform has been implemented.
If the intent of the question was to address the issue of campaign finance laws, then the answer is, again, underwhelming. Two major U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014) both struck down efforts at limiting or more strictly regulating donations to political campaigns. Even before the decision in McCutcheon, the effects of efforts by a few members of Congress to reform the process had completely failed to bear fruit, evident in the estimated $7 billion spent on the 2012 election cycle, during which so-called "Super PACs" (Political Action Committees) succeeded in circumventing the few regulations that existed.
In short, there have been little to know meaningful reforms of Congress at all, and certainly nothing that affected the direction in which the government is moving. And the 2012 election, which returned the incumbent president to office while retaining the preexisting balance of power in Congress, did not affect, at all, the direction of Congress over the subsequent period.
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