Let’s see how savvy the GOP really is …
POLITICO points out that the House Republicans are planning to announce their election agenda within the next two weeks. That ought to be an interesting exercise. This is supposedly a result of their “America Speaking Out” initiative, an online, grass-roots effort to build ideas from voters across the country.
Two things that have leaked out sound great but most likely will have about the same impact as PAYGO:
One of the GOP proposals would require bills to have a specific citation of constitutional authority, on the heels of criticism that Democrats breached their constitutional limits in Congress with big-ticket bills like health care reform. If a member questioned whether the House had constitutional authority to pass a bill, that challenge would receive debate and a vote.
The second major initiative would encourage — though not require — members of Congress to read bills before they vote. According to a senior House GOP source, Republicans plan to push for a new rule that would require the House to publish the text of a bill online at least three days before the House votes on it, also giving the public an opportunity to review legislation.
The first is like closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. That nag fled decades ago. Obviously I’d like to see the Constitution followed as it should be, but I find it highly unlikely that a body of lawyers would have any trouble rationalizing almost anything they come up with as “Constitutional”. I mean, look around you.
The second is, well, window dressing. While it sounds great, I have little confidence that a 2,500 page bill posted on line for 3 days allows anyone enough time to read it much less understand and react to it. I cannot think of any bill that Congress considers and debates that couldn’t wait a month for enactment (other than perhaps some funding for a natural disaster, etc). In that time a real reading could be done, and the appropriate debate among “the people” could take place. What effect even that would have on the House is unknown, however, it certainly would raise the visibility of the debate to much different levels than now and provide a little accountability so sorely missing.
We’re still digging horse apples out of the ObamaCare law. It was passed in haste precisely because of the crap it had hidden inside. Yet there is no reason whatsoever that bill couldn’t have been available on line for 30 days prior to House action. None. Making that a requirement (and if there’s a schedule that the House feels it must keep on certain reoccurring items like the budget – adapt. Move the House work schedule for that bill back a month) would certainly go a lot further to keeping House members honest and between the ditches than anything.
The rest of the agenda remains veiled in generalities:
Other bills and initiatives that are likely to be launched alongside the agenda include tax policy proposals, health reform proposals and jobs-related measures, though GOP aides involved declined to release any specifics ahead of the unveiling.
POLITICO says some of them will be designed to appeal to the Tea Party vote. The first is obviously designed to do that – but is it really something which can and will be enforced? And if it is, will it actually have an effect. Again, you’re asking a body of lawyers to vote on their interpretation of what the Constitution says, and most are going to fall back on “precedent”, i.e. the fact that in the past what many say is an unconstitutional expansion of government – see Commerce clause – has been upheld by the Supreme Court. How in the world would this change that?
Anyway, given my dissatisfaction with the first two, the GOP does indeed need to roll out reasons to vote “for” them, rather than just against Democrats. And most importantly, if they’re able to successfully appeal to the voters to vote “for” them, they better damn well execute.