April 14, 2006

Democrats Are Stronger on Lobbying Reform…

Posted by Eric Jaffa
Wednesday April 05th 2006, 10:28 am
Filed under: SpeakSpeak, Free Speech, Government

…but neither party is trying to fundamentally change the lobbying system.

SpeakSpeak is a website about free speech and the media.

So why I do I discuss lobbying reform here? Because people don’t use their free speech to talk about politics merely for its own sake.

They want those in power to hear them, but under our current system ordinary people are usually drowned out by corporate lobbyists.

Raw Story has this information on what is going on in the US House today:

The House Rules Committee mark-up of the Lobbying Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (HR 4975), authored by Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), will be considered Wednesday afternoon. The meeting will be the final Rules meeting on the bill before it is brought before the Rules Committee for a vote and then the full House.

Democrats will propose several amendments, aides say. The following are their characterizations of the proposals, which are not immediately available.

Crackdown on backroom legislating affecting conference reports. (Amendments 1, 2)
Allow members to “actually read the bills they pass.” (Amendments 3,5)
The Hammer Rule: crackdown on alleged arm-twisting and influence peddling on the House Floor. (Amendment 4)
Require leadership to include both parties in the conference process. (Amendment 6)
Place strong disclosure requirements on all types of earmarks
Tighten regulations on congressional use of corporate jets (Amendment 8)

In other words, Democrats will try to improve a phony Republican bill, but will probably fail because Republicans have the majority.

« The Democrats Aren’t Going Far Enough »

Even if the Democratic amendments pass, which I expect they won’t, it won’t create fundamental change.

I don’t want Congress to “tighten regulations on congressional use of corporate jets.” I want a total ban. Senators should ride in the same planes as you and me. I want it to be illegal for Senators, Reps, and their staff to ride in corporate jets, even if they pay a fair price for the trip. It’s the convenience which is corrupting, not the price.

I want a total ban on gifts to Senators, Reps, and their staff, including no free trips from educational and charitable organizations. Firstly, there is the problem of phony charities. Secondly, even if a charity is genuinely interested in a cure for pancreatic cancer, it shouldn’t be able to drown out a charity interested in a cure for uterine cancer by giving a Senator a free trip.

Our representatives and their staff should pay for their own trips, or let the taxpayers pay.

3 Comments so far

Never mind “allowing” the legislators to read the bills, how about REQUIRING them to read the bills before voting on them? We have way too many laws that get passed because the people we elect have no idea what’s in the bills before voting on them! They’re personally written by lobbyists, condensed to cute anagrams or patriotics code-names (”Megan’s Law”, U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act), summarized by staff members, and then told to either accept or reject by the party’s whip. If they actually had to READ each and every page before voting on them, I don’t think we’d have to deal with half the government crap we have today!

Comment by David 2 04.06.06 @ 8:05 am

David 2 -

I doubt there is a way to force individual Congressmen to read bills, even if that were desirable.

But an alternative would be to require that bills be read aloud in their entirety on the House floor.

I’m not saying I necessarily agree with that idea, but it’s an idea I’ve seen which would greatly reduce the amount of legislation passed each year.

Comment by Eric Jaffa 04.06.06 @ 8:52 am

I doubt there is a way to force individual Congressmen to read bills, even if that were desirable.

Try this:

“I solemnly swear or attest under penalty of perjury that the vote I give pertaining to this bill was made only after I have personally read and understood the contents and all ammendments and attachments included to it, and that I further believe to the best of my knowledge that the bill has been properly vetted so that it conforms to the United States Constitution and all of its ammendments as currently and properly defined by the judiciary.”

I also like your idea of reading the bills out loud in their entirety. I know at least one state legislature requires that of their bills and it would certainly help.

Comment by David 2 04.06.06 @ 12:56 pm

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