How to unblock the least productive Congress in US history? Here's a counterintuitive notion: Reinstate pork-barrel spending and the smoke-filled backroom, where lawmakers can make legislative deals in private, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper tells Time. Surprisingly, other politicians agree—some off the record—that modern attempts at transparency and fiscal responsibility have played a prime role in Congressional gridlock.
"We elect these people to make these difficult decisions, but now they are in the full light of video every time they make a decision," says Hickenlooper. "Let them go back into a room like they always did." As for earmarks—now banned under House Speaker John Boehner—many say the funding of pet projects once greased Congressional wheels. But don't expect the anti-spending tea party to let Republicans turn back the clock: "This is pretty simple: Earmarks aren’t coming back any time soon," says a Boehner spokesman. (Read more earmarks stories.)