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It's not enough to vote the bums out. We need reforms -- and here they are.
These are excellent suggestions. I would also add that we could avoid a lot of sneaky favors for special interest groups by requiring, as many states do, that all bills cover only one subject: no more slipping irrelevant or unpopular "riders" into popular bills that the majority would otherwise support.
For example, if you want a tax break for a company in your district or to promote your pet social issue, you have to draft and present a separate bill to that effect; you can't just slip it into the appropriation for Veterans Affairs. Of course, having to write a separate bill would increase the chances that stupid or corrupt measures wouldn't pass, but that's a GOOD thing.
The House and the Senate have the power to decide their rules of operation, granted by the Constitution. We, the public, can't dictate to either body the rules they should jettison, change, or institute. We can suggest strongly how we'd like to see them operate but in the final analysis, most of the suggestions in this article are in the purview of congress and not of the voter.
Voters can show their disgust in Congress by years of voting incumbents out. I agree with Horner and Penny's suggestions, but Congress will not begin to move in a reform direction until we start kicking them out term after term. An experienced Congress person is getting us nowhere and its time for them to go. In my district Betty McCollum gets voted back in term after term and what as the woman done for my district? Nothing!
Michelle Bachmann keeps getting elected term after term in the 6th district and what has she ever done for it except to take six months off from what she was elected to do to run for president?
Yes. And, its the internet era, not the 1776 horse and buggy era. The rules of government were written at a time when the only way you could participate was to physically be in the room:(voted in, ride your horse for a week or a month, etc) - and then write, revise, and vote on bills. This forum we are using, Wikipedia, and instant worldwide email notice/twitter/etc for any event we choose *will* change all that. In particular bills writing must be transparent. Bills and regulations at all levels of government must get the same (easy now) treatment as any big corp. "change control" process. The databases that holds the text of the bill or any document(ex: bank loan procedures ) can record who, when, and why for any version change. AND, that same system can instantly publish on the web to any or all interested parties (us!!), each notice of each change. Make all edits to all bills traceable back to the author and instantly published. In story form: Sunny?... Mom, why are you calling me at 2am? Sunny, why did you just change HR1234.12.7 to include a tax break for BigCorp? ... How do you know that Mom? ... My smartphone always goes off when ever I get twitter notice of any of your good work from congress.changeNotice.gov ...., So why the change at 2am? and who are these folks?.... Ummmm... well....um.. Mom,.... This is really easy to do! - the software is available as free/opensource... do it in the park board, do it for the school board, do it for the city, do it for the county... etc. Everyone (mostly) in power now grew up before the internet when we could not share info instantly.... But now... its almost easier to have full transparency, and let anyone comment on or offer a revision to a bill from anywhere in the world any time..... (oh, and some website can correlate each author and the subject of each change with a follow-the-money story!)
Gimbel - True, we can say as much as we want but in the end, Congress makes their own rules. Until voters get out of this "Republican vs Democrat" paradigm, this will never end. Congress has had a sub-20% approval rating for quite a while, both in Republican AND Democrat control. Even with such a low approval rating, the majority of politicians continue to get reelected. This is because nobody thinks it is "their" party's fault. Both parties take us down the same path, they just play different music on the ride.
I agree with pdxtran. If bills were required to be more restricted, we would actually benefit. That was one thing I actually liked about Herman Cain. He wanted bills much shorter. He was criticized for "not wanting to read." I think he was on to something. Why do all new laws passed need lawyers to understand? I think they should be written so that the average person can understand them, not so that we need the almighty politicians to explain their interpretations of them.
usmc1127: "Why do all new laws passed need lawyers to understand?" ---- Simple, if they weren't, we wouldn't have the need for so many lawyers. Same with tax code, what would CPAs do if we simplified that? There is some good reason for doing this, it is suppose to (key words there) prevent lawyers and CPAs from making loopholes in the laws/codes.
No elected federal official should receive any kind of benefit (health care, retirement, or tax advantage) that isn't available to the voters as a whole. Absolute and complete disclosure of all financial transactions by members of Congress while they hold office. A ban on any former member of Congress from holding or working for any lobbying group for 10 years.
Excellent article offering thoughtful suggestions. The Founders believed in slowing the legislative precess and protecting minority views, but they also believed in governing. The current application of Senate rules are not found in the document nor were they suggested in the debates. McConnell has been an effective innovator and teacher in the tactics of no. If the GOP should ever win a majority in the Senate, the Democrats as long as they have 41 votes will filibuster everything including proposed legislation, confirmation of judges and executive department officials, budgets and anything else that requires any kind of vote. Personal privilege holds will derail the process even more. If you think the past congress achieved little, prepared for even less. Have we really become ungovernable?
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