Free Markets, Free People

Franking Commission

1st Amendment – Void Under Capital Dome?

Apparently lawmakers are now required to submit any language they plan sending out to constituents through the Democrats who sit on the Franking Commission.

It seems the term “government run healthcare” rankles the Dems.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), the secretary of the House Republican Conference and a former District Court Judge, is having his messages to constituents censored by Democrats on the Franking Commission. Republicans are no longer allowed to use the words “government run health care” in the communications to their constituents.

Carter received an email from the Franking Commission informing him of the censorship.

“It came to me from the Franking Commission and I have the email from the Franking Commission here if you’d like to see it,” Carter said. “We held a telephone town-hall… When you hold telephone town-halls you have a recorded message that introduces the town-hall and the subject matter you’re going to be talking about. You have to now submit that language to the Franking Commission.

Now wait – “franking” is postage. I.e. each Congressional member is given franking privileges (which essentially means his or her signature is all that’s needed to send mail) and able to send constituent mail without postage (although the USPS does get reimbursed for delivering it). Here’s how it is described in a quick search I did:

A six-member bipartisan Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, colloquially known as the “Franking Commission,” is responsible for oversight and regulation of the franking privilege in the Congress. Among the Commission’s responsibilities is to establish the “Official Mail Allowance” for each Member based proportionally on the number of constituents they serve.

How that evolved into something which has a say on telephone town-halls is a bit mystifying to me but a good example of the mission creep for which bureaucracies are famous (take heed all of you wanting government run healthcare).  Now I’m not here to defend franking privileges, but unlike John McCain, I am an  ardent supporter of the 1st Amendment.

Continuing with the story, Rep. Carter says:

“What we proposed as language was as follows, ‘House Democrats unveiled a government-run health care plan,’” Carter said. “Our response from Franking was, ‘You cannot use that language. You must use, ‘The House majority unveiled a public option health care plan,’ which is Pelosi-speak or ‘just last week the House majority unveiled a health care plan which I believe will cost taxpayers…’”

“I would submit to you this is a free speech issue, guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States,” Carter said.

Yeah, something about free political speech as I recall.

It is also a great example of why the Constitution doesn’t stand a chance in the face of partisan politics any more.

Let freedom ring!

~McQ