Rosanna Kim '13, an honors political science major from Gaithersburg, Md., is one of only 20 students in the country to have her work selected for publication by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress (CSPC). Her paper, which she wrote about the 112th Congress while serving as one of 71 CSPC Fellows, will appear in its 2011-2012 Fellows Review.
Congress has always been relatively unpopular, but recently there has been widespread expression that the 112th Congress under President Obama is one of the worst congresses in American history. To determine whether this discontent is justified, Kim assessed the first session of the 112th Congress by measuring its legislative productivity and comparing its performance to divided government in the 104th Congress under President Clinton. Ultimately, her analysis, built upon the analysis that political scientist and Brookings Institution senior fellow Sarah Binder used in her book, Stalemate, finds that the 112th Congress is on track to be the least productive Congress to date.
Interning on Capitol Hill last summer, Kim witnessed first-hand how dysfunctional Congress appeared, especially in debates over raising the federal debt ceiling. Observing such congressional wrangles inspired her paper topic.
"After speaking to people on the Hill and reading a lot of commentary in the news, I wondered if the current Congress was really as dysfunctional as it was made out to be," says Kim, a Philip Evans Scholar who at Swarthmore has been involved in War News Radio and mock trial. "Consequently, I decided to write a paper to explore how dysfunctional our current Congress is, given that it's so easy for us to romanticize the political past while demonizing the present."
Kim has also held internships at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and has had experiences at NGOs in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Cape Town, South Africa. However, Kim is also interested in congressional politics as, in her view, Congress largely determines how issues of social policy are addressed.
"I believe that in order to change social policy in the U.S. and abroad," she says, "we need to look at Congress' ability to address these issues through legislation in a timely manner."