A recent Wall Street Journal editorial lays out a proposal for meaningful reform that includes ending spending earmarks through which individual members can take our money to waste on projects near and dear only to them; a rewrite of the 1974 Budget Act, sold as a reform, but which has made it easier for Congress to tax and spend; and six-year term limits on the appropriations committees to "neutralize the power of the 13 subcommittee chairmen - known as the College of Cardinals - who are a major obstacle to budget reform."
Here's another idea: Congress should be forced by public opinion to submit to what in labor disputes is known as binding arbitration. An independent commission - not unlike the Grace Commission of the Reagan years - that identified waste, fraud and abuse in government and made some headway before members fell off the spending wagon - should be given the power to impose reforms on Congress in order that "we the people" might benefit for a change. Among them should be term limits for everybody. The Founding Fathers did not foresee a permanent political class, out of touch with the people and in touch only with their careers and self-interests.
The people in the institution that brought us the problem are unlikely to solve it. They have tried and failed many times. Only an outside commission (or putting true reform-minded members in charge, like Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana) will accomplish real and long-lasting change.
Unless Congress and the public get serious about reform, things won't get any better, even if the Democrats win a majority in the fall elections. So what will it be, real reform, or more snake oil?