“Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpation” -James Madison

Thursday, January 26, 2006

You *HAVE* the Power!

Time for a rank amateur to give Congressional Republicans a huge hint: You get to make the rules.

A party that is serious about removing the pork and limiting or eliminating the money from politics, who has majorities in both Houses, can do so with no problem. Get some leading House and Senate guys together and draft the bills in tandem so there is no intercameral conflict. Need some ideas? Okay....

Try any or all of these....

1.) Require the final draft of all non-emergency spending bills to be posted, with all earmarks highlighted and documented by requestor, to be published on the house's website for 14 days prior to the vote.

2.) Require earmarks be voted up or down individually prior to voting on the bill entire. "If HR### should pass, shall Earmark 74, calling for $500,000 for research into mosquito mating habits, be funded? Yea or Nay." All failed earmarks are stricken from the main bill, and the vote is taken on the main bill.

UPDATE: According to this, #2 is already in the works.

3.) Require a supermajority for all non-emergency spending bills to pass.

4.) You run the committees! Refuse to send forward any spending bill with earmarks that are not specifically provided for by the bill's sponsors.

5.) Get with the Dems on this. If the leaders of both parties and both houses meet together and agree that is truly is a nonpartisan issue that eats at everyone's integrity, then some action can be had. Republicans have the power, if not the will, to ram it down the Dems' throats, but wouldn't it be cooler if you worked together on this one? It might make the War issue easier on everyone as well, and you can build from that first step.
Any of the ideas that involve "requiring" something is just a matter of writing a bill and passing it with 50% +1 (or 50 in the Senate and VP Cheney in session). GWB will sign it -- no problem there. It just takes the will to stand up and do it, knowing it may cost you the pork projects and will gain the ire of all the irresponsible legislators around you.

Here's the catch for the rest of us -- This Assumes That Politicians Care What We Think And Will Respond To Us. As long as Senator A thinks that saying "no" to Senator B's bridge might cost Senator A somewhere down the road, then no one will say "no" to anyone else.

Conservatives are up in arms. First Delay, then the Abramoff thing, now the slapfight over which liar gets to run the House all the nonsense in the Senate that turns one's stomach.

All that "serving the public" business is kind of an afterthought, apparently.

The Spirit of '94 is a ghost, no more relevant today than the Spirit of '76 truly is.

Every generation looks in despair on its ruling class and political professionals as a bunch of self-serving thieving scumbags out to enrich themselves and their ego at the ever-expanding public trough. Why should this one be any different?

A few things come to mind....

1.) Joe Average is much more plugged in now than ever before, and the internet and blogosphere have decimated the old media's lock on information dispensation.

2.) The elections of 2000 and 2004, combined with the facts of the post-9/11 world have caught the attention and imagination of people like never before.

3.) For the first time in nearly a century, the Republicans have the majority (if not control) of both the Senate and the House, and have a strong man in the White House.

The roar for reform is getting louder. Add in the constant drumbeats for smaller government, border control, immigration reform, SS/Medicare reform, tax reform, and any number of other conservative issues, and it is plain that we are increasingly expectant of progress on the conservative front. It is equally plain that we are disappointed and angered at how the Dems (the MINORITY) are able to push our guys around and block things that they shouldn't be able to. You wanted the votes, you wanted the majorities -- you got them. So where are the results?

We're watching. And more of us are doing so all the time. And calling. And writing. And working on campaigns for your primary rival if you don't shape up.

DO WHAT YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING, and leave off with all the personal enrichment power trips.

The power is there, in your hands. All you have to do is use it.


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