Thursday, January 19, 2006

Cards On the Table

I couldn't think of a better way to fix Congress.

ReadtheBill.org is a new national organization dedicated to forcing Congress to post all proposed legislation online for 72 hours before it goes to the floor of Congress. We call this the "72 Hours of Sunshine Rule". It is needed because Congress has degenerated into chaos. The House of Representatives still has a rule on the books requiring proposed legislation be available to members for three days. But the House waives this rule routinely and rubber stamps huge bills in the middle night, clueless of their content or cost. Senate rules are fuzzier but the result is the same. This chaos in Congress costs every American. Provisions and giveaways slipped through Congress are one reason that the U.S. has a national debt of $8 trillion. These sneaky provisions also invite plain-old corruption.


Abramoff Abramoff Abramoff. . .is only part of the problem. Lobbying, corruption, and pork are as old as Congress itself, and part of the reason involves the ability to hide things until it is too late. This sort of reform would help on so many levels, it's hard to begin articulating them all. Citizens would have more of a chance to mobilize in opposition to something. Legislators or their staff might actually get a chance to read legislation carefully before voting on it. The plain old checks and balances of grass roots groups fighting each other would become more pronounced and fair, and truly good legislation would have time to get support before someone managed to kill it in committee. And so on. I say if the GOP or the Dems should they take over (increasingly unlikely) should think about real measures like this that get at the actual root causes of Congress' problems.