Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Informed Votes

What we expect from Congress is that legislators are fully informed on the legislation upon which they vote and that, prior to the vote, the legislation is given a full and fair hearing. Never to my knowledge has legislation so often been rammed through as it has been in this Congress, with none of the legislators fully informed and the process specifically designed to circumvent debate. It is what one would expect to see in a banana republic. It is an atrocity, though some of the criticism for legislators goes off afield when it comes to calls for legislators to read every line of every piece of legislation being proposed.

Obama said that he wanted to remake America. He has attempted to do so by bypassing the processes built into our system to insure Democracy works. It worked with the stimulus. It has worked in the House with cap and trade. Obama tried mightily to do this with socialized medicine and a vast overhaul/expansion of financial regulation. But the electorate are pushing back - which we damn well should, since this violates the very spirit of our democratic form of government. That said, criticism goes afield when it calls for the legislators to "read every line" of every piece of legislation.

Democrats, instead of addressing the substance of this problem, are focusing on the narrow issue of "reading every line." There is no better example of that than Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes (NH), a congressman who voted for Obama's stimulus and cap and trade. There can be little if any doubt that he voted for those bills without being aware of all that was in them. No one who voted for those bills did. Yet he tries to obfuscate his responsibility for those fundamental failings by shifting the issue:

Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes (NH-02) believes reading every bill in Congress “would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done.”

Members of Congress who don’t read the bills they are voting on “is not necessarily the major problem with the way Congress functions,” he said.

Hodes, who is the sole Democratic candidate in the race to replace the retiring New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, made the remarks during a recent editorial board meeting with the Nashua Telegraph.

Hodes said it’s not realistic to expect members of Congress to read every bill word-for-word, as Congress took more than 2,000 votes in the session that ended in December,” the paper reports. . . .

Congress - and Hodes - should be vilified for their votes on stimulus and cap and trade. It violates every tenet of our democracy. We have every right to demand legislators understand what it is for which they are being asked to vote. But on the very narrow issue of "reading every line," Hodes has a point. It does not matter how an individual Congressman gets his knowledge of a bill, it only matters that they have the knowledge and they don't vote for legislation that has not been given a full and fair hearing. Those on the right and left who are rightly angered at what they see happening under Obama need to tighten their criticism - otherwise, people like Hodes and the other hundreds of his cronies that violated our democratic tenets will escape their responsibility.

(H/T Hot Air)


OBloodyHell said...

> believes reading every bill in Congress “would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done.”

I think you... and Hodes, are missing the REAL matter here -- actually identifying what the key features of a bill are would require these idiots to focus on what is important and not on all sorts of frippery and gewgaws they attach to each bill. We don't need MORE laws, we need BETTER laws.

By this, Congress might actually find themselves time-limited and thus "doing what actually needs to be done" and not pushing for things like a defacto reinstatement of Wool And Mohair Price Supports.

This, I think, should be a key feature after The Second Revolution -- All bills are limited in word length, and in order to actually commit a vote on a bill, the legislator must correctly answer four out of five questions about key elements of the bill (out of a pool of, oh, say, 100). Failure means
a) He doesn't get to vote on the bill, until the next day, when he can take the test again.
b) His failure is reported in the equivalent of the Federal Register.
c) A really loud bell, horn and sirens, along with flashing lights, go off over him such that it's clear s/he failed the "dunce test".

The net affect of this will be to slow the passage of laws (since another component of the New Constitution will be to explicitly exclude the power of Congress to pass legislation from being handed off to unelected bureaucrats)and to identify those Congressbozos who aren't doing their jobs and becoming familiar with the tasks at hand for them.

Scott Kirwin said...

So if our leaders aren't responsible for what they sign into law, why should we be responsible for signing any contract with fine print?

suek said...

>>...why should we be responsible for signing any contract with fine print?>>

They're working on that. I think there's a "small print" czar.

MK said...

I don't give a rat's ass how long it takes to read the bills, if they don't have the time to read it, then it should not be passed.

Paul_In_Houston said...

believes reading every bill in Congress "would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done."


My home state of Texas is sometimes ridiculed for only having a part-time legislature, but I think the founding fathers of our state knew EXACTLY what they were doing; having these parasites might be necessary sometimes, but limit as far as possible the damage they may inflict.