Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic hosts DC insiders examining political polarization

On December 12, a host of Washington insiders took part in “Exploring ‘Polarization’: A Conversation,” NYU Law’s Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic in-depth examination of political polarization. Former White House Counsel Robert Bauer, distinguished scholar in residence and senior lecturer at NYU School of Law, and Professor Sally Katzen, former deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, co-chaired.

Sally Katzen introducing Tom Daschle

Through presentations and panel discussion, the program brought together experts from politics, the media and public policy to discuss how the question of “polarization” has become so prominent in our national policy debate and politics. The key questions explored were the sources, scale and impact of polarization; and whether the solution lies in ordinary politics or in legal or institutional reform. Former Senator Tom Daschle gave the closing keynote address.

Robert Bauer

The NYU Legislative and Regulatory Policy Clinic was established this fall at NYU’s campus in Washington DC, under the leadership of Bauer and Katzen. Students have spent a semester examining the multi-faceted role of government lawyers while gaining experience at federal agencies and congressional offices. Clinic students work four days a week at a federal agency or government office, in addition to attending a weekly seminar and special events with government officials and other guest lecturers.

This was not the first time clinic students had an opportunity to hear from well-placed, experienced DC insiders. This fall, in the midst of the historic government shutdown, a group of experts gathered in the same place to discuss the debt ceiling, the shutdown, and its potential effects on the state of the economy and on the longterm politics of the United States. Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post, moderated a panel that included Bauer and Katzen, as well as Sean Cairncross ’01, partner at HoltzmanVogelJosefiak and former deputy executive director and general counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Professor David Kamin ’09, former special assistant to the president for economic policy; and Michael Waldman ’87, president of the Brennan Center for Justice and former director of speechwriting for President Bill Clinton.

Opening Presentation: Framing the Issue (1 hr, 2 min)

  • Richard Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law
  • John Sides, associate professor of political science at George Washington University

Polarization: The Role and Response of the Media and Think Tank Communities (58 min)

  • Moderator: John Fortier, director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
  • Major Garrett, chief White House correspondent on CBS
  • John Samples, director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute
  • John Halpin, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress
  • Tevi Troy, visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute

“Polarization” in the “Political World” (50 min)

  • Moderator: John Fortier, director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Eliot Cutler, independent candidate for governor of Maine
  • Anita Dunn, managing director for SKDKnickerbocker
  • David Keating, president for the Center for Competitive Politics
  • Rick Davis, partner and chief operating officer for Pegasus Sustainable Century Merchant Bank and National Campaign Manager, 2000 and 2008 McCain Presidential Campaigns

Keynote Address: US Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) (49 min)

Posted on December 16, 2013