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Sunday, January 2, 2011

A few New Years Resolutions for Congress

I'm generally opposed to New Year's resolutions. They seem a little pointless to me, given that no one ever actually keeps them.
Everyone starts off the year with good intentions of course. They plan to eat better, be nicer to the dog, loose weight, stop killing the neighbors and burying their bodies at the local dump — whatever.
But real life intervenes and next thing you know you've got a butcher knife in your hand and you're pondering fava beans and a nice Chianti, or maybe that's just me.
However, this year we have a new Congress taking power in Washington D.C. and I'd like to propose 10 resolutions to the Republicans and Democrats taking their seats on Jan. 5.
1.) All new members should attend addiction deterrence classes and all returning members should attend addiction counseling and join a 12 step program in order to help them break the spending addiction in Washington. We're out of money and when normal people are out of money they have to stop spending — politicians should do likewise.
2.) They should resolve to pass no legislation they haven't read. If you don't know what's in it you certainly shouldn't be voting for it. They should also resolve to keep bills under 100 pages. No one has the time to read thousands of pages of verbose leagalese, let alone digest and understand what the bills actually say.
3.) On that note, they need to do what President Barack Obama promised, and make sure that all bills are posted on the Web for two weeks before they are voted on. That way the American people have time to read them as well — and to decide if we want it passed or not.
4.) While they're at it the new Congress Critters should resolve to apply the 10th Amendment to all bills prior to passage. That's the one that limits the power of the Federal Government and basically says "if it's not in the constitution you can't do it."
5.) They should also resolve to stop abusing the interstate commerce clause of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to regulate everything from what food our children are allowed to eat in school to health care. The purpose of the interstate commerce clause was to prevent economic warfare between say, Kansas and Colorado, not to allow the federal government to intrude into every aspect of our personal lives.
6.) In point of fact, they should resolve to publish in every bill where in the constitution they derive the authority to pass the law. If they can't find it, it should never even come to a vote.
7.) Even better, they need to resolve to not pass a law unless they first repeal a law. The current federal law alone runs to thousands of volumes. I think we have enough laws. Let's get rid of a few before we add some.
8.) They should also resolve to trim back the federal bureaucracy a bit. The FCC, for instance, recently decided to regulate the Internet — despite having no explicit authority to do so. They just decided they wanted to, and then did. The regulations promulgated by these agencies have the force of law, even though they've never actually been voted on. Let's rein in the bureaucrats just a bit. I suspect we've got a few more agencies than we actually need anyway.
9.) I'd also like to see them resolve to quite monkeying around with the military. I'm ambivalent about the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, however when your generals are telling you something is a Bad Idea, it's generally a Good Idea to listen to them. Yes, civilian control of the military is an important principal, and yes, Congress does have the authority to do what they did. But the military in the middle of a war is not the place for social engineering or political correctness. These are warriors, and their job is to kill people and break things. They do that very well indeed, can we not do things that may detract from that ability?
10.) Finally, they should resolve to come down from their ivory tower, clean out their ears and start listening to the American people. Our legislators, whatever they may tell themselves, are not some sort of elite. They were sent there by us, to represent us, and they power they have is derived from and borrowed from us. As many of them found out in November, in this country you rile the American people at your own considerable peril. They need to remember that before they get reminded again.
All IMHO, of course.

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