New Orleans – No doubt about it, the Republican rump caucus is up to no good once any of us take a good look at their long-term objectives, which basically pretend the US can be dialed back to the 1950s or before. Giving the devils their due though, I have to admit that some of the concessions they won seem fair and reasonable as needed reforms, long overdue.
The best example is the new requirement that Congressional representatives get a copy of a bill at least 72-hours before voting. That seems more than reasonable to me. Some of these bills like the Affordable Care Act or any of the tax measures are literally thousands of pages long. The notion that any elected representative, other than the authors, have read these bills in part or whole is ludicrous and makes a mockery of the process. Maybe not even the authors have read their own bills, since it has been established that whole sections of some of these bills are copy-and-paste jobs from special interest lobbyists. Sure, they have a staff, but many of these folks are young, overworked, and years from being subject-matter experts, and reading something that is this important and this lengthy would take any team of folks some time to devour, which is what many of the lobbyists and elected tricksters actually count on as they bury odd fragments of this and that in major, critical legislation.
I’m not just saying this just because the prohibition against funding ACORN and a list of more than 150 so-called affiliates of the organization has now been included in one form or another in appropriation committee bills for the last more than a dozen years. I’ll admit that is an excellent example that grates on me, but it’s one of a million in the slapdash process of getting these deals done and pulling them out of the jaws of partisan division, sloppy and smelly.
The other place where I think they have a point, that is likely shared by the whole body, is wanting to prove that have an actual voice in Congress, and, importantly, can deliver something to the home folks. Gradually, earmarks, or what we use to call “pork”, has snuck back into some of the legislative process. Past reformers in the name of fiscal restraint have fought against such items, but taking away all of the grease makes it harder to cook these bills to well-done. The old lions in the House get to have their say and make their way, but there has to be something for the new pups in this kennel or why wouldn’t they just whine, cry, and act out just to fight the boredom of their irrelevance and dying aspirations and ambitions? Sure, being on a committee is a place where you can claim a piece of the collective credit for something, but that will never be as good as actually being able to really solve an issue back home and deliver the bacon.
In order to get some accountability on the big-ticket items, there needs to be due diligence and that takes time. In order to get accountability from all of the electeds, we need some carrots to go with the stick, and, call it pork or not, it makes government work for the people in its own special way.