Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stressed the importance of government compromise to solve the nation’s problems when he spoke at the UNC School of Government on Thursday.
LaHood, who served as transportation secretary from 2009 to 2013, gave the 2013 Deil S. Wright Lecture to a standing room-only audience, where he talked about bipartisanship and the government shutdown.
“Compromise is not a bad word. Consensus is not a bad word. It’s the way our country can solve its problems,” he said. “That’s the way America has always been, and that’s the way that we have done big things.”
LaHood said throughout his time in government, he has seen the federal government solve problems through compromise.
He said in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich were still able to pass significant legislation despite differing points of view.
“We passed three balanced budgets. You think it was easy? No. What happened? People compromised,” he said.
But now, LaHood said some politicians are not willing to compromise.
“In the last two election cycles, 30 to 40 people, primarily Republicans — remember I’m a Republican — primarily Republicans got elected to go to Washington and to vote no and to be against everything,” he said.
He said these people got elected on an anti-government premise, which has threatened Congress’s productivity.