DownsizeDC.org
June 5, 2008
The Senate read the bill!
By Jim Babka
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Quote of the Day:

Remember, it used to be global cooling they worried about . . .

"The continued rapid cooling of the earth since WWII is in accord with the increase in global air pollution associated with industrialization, mechanization, urbanization and exploding population."
—Reid Bryson, “Global Ecology; Readings towards a rational strategy for Man”, (1971)

Subject: The Senate read the bill!

Something incredible happened last night. The U.S. Senate actually read the so-called "Climate Security Act" and a substitute amendment -- out loud, word for word.

500+ pages. 10 hours to read!

This legislation, which would impose a huge tax and regulatory system on all carbon emissions, is about 300 pages long. Congress constantly passes bills this large, or larger, without reading them. If it took 10 hours to read this one bill, just imagine what would happen if they had to read ALL their bills.

The pace of legislation, and the growth of government, would slow down. It might even be possible for a citizen group (like DownsizeDC.org), or a reporter, or a talk-show host, or even just an ordinary citizen, to keep up with all the things Congress is doing.

For the very few people who oppose DownsizeDC.org's "Read the Bills Act" (in our experience, that's not even one out of every ten people who hear about it) this would be a bad thing. These people think we need more government, even if it must come at the cost of passing legislation that the members of Congress haven't read, let alone understood.

We think this is irresponsible. Remember, Congress may not have to read a bill, or really understand it. But YOU will have to bear the burden of obeying every word of it!

In the case of the "cap and trade" bill, U.S. companies will have to hire thousands of lawyers to do their own 100-hour (or more) readings of this legislation (because unlike Congress, they will actually have to understand how to obey it). Compliance will cost billions of dollars. That cost will be passed on to you, the consumer, as will the tax that companies must pay to buy their carbon emission permits.

But it doesn't end there.

The way the government works today legislation is just the starting point for the creation of rules. Once something like the "cap and trade" bill is passed the federal bureaucracy then goes to work creating specific regulations to execute the legislation. 

This means billions more will be spent on more lawyers to read, understand, and comply with these regulations. And you will pay for all of this too. Unelected bureaucrats shouldn't be able to burden the public with more laws. That's why we also need to pass the Write the Laws Act.

Some people say it's unreasonable to expect Congress to read all of its legislation, but . . .

Could YOU get away with violating a law because you felt it was unreasonable for the government to expect you to read, understand, and comply with all their huge legislation and bureaucratic rules?

Of course not. If you must bear the burden (in time and higher prices and worry that you're not running afoul of some crazy rule) THEN SO SHOULD THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS!

One Congressman has called the "Read the Bills Act" a gimmick. But the real gimmick was what happened in the Senate last night. The "cap and trade" bill was read out loud NOT so that the members of Congress could know what they were being asked to pass, but because the Republicans wanted to slow things down to make a point about how judicial nominations are being handled by the Democrats.

ALMOST NO SENATORS WERE IN THE ROOM TO HEAR THE BILL BEING READ!

For us, the "Read the Bills Act" is NOT a gimmick. It's an essential requirement for responsible representative government. For us, the very most important feature of the "Read the Bills Act" is NOT . . .

* The 7-day waiting period before a vote can be held. Yes, it's a great idea. It gives citizen-action groups time to organize opposition at the moment of highest public interest in a bill. But the "cap and trade" bill will be just as bad if they pass it 7 days from now.
* The requirement that members of Congress sign an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that they have read a bill. That is also important, but secondary.

Both of these features are valuable and helpful. They make the bill complete. But they are not the true key to bringing about responsible government. Instead, the most important aspect of the "Read the Bills Act" is forcing the members of each chamber of Congress to SIT through and LISTEN to a full reading of each bill before a vote can be held.

This, and only this, can bring about real change in how our government operates, because this is the ONLY feature of the "Read the Bills Act" that compels the politicians to pay a PERSONAL PRICE for the burdens they seek to impose on the American people. This feature, and only this feature, will . . .

* Make sure that most members of Congress have an informed idea of what it is they are passing.
* Make Congress prioritize, instead of simply enacting every wild idea that strikes their collective fancy (and that's what they do now because they don't have to pause and read the bill out loud, word for word, on the floor, before voting).
* Make bills shorter, and more understandable, so that Congress can endure the fatigue of hearing them read.

The "Read the Bills Act," as we have constructed it, would bring about real, meaningful reform. It would go a long way toward protecting us from 300-page monstrosities like the so-called "Climate Security Act." But . . .

Until the "Read the Bills Act" passes the only protection we have is YOU, and the work you do through DownsizeDC.org. DC Downsizers have bombarded Congress with more than 5,000 messages opposing the "Climate Security Act." But more is needed. If you haven't yet sent a message on this issue, please do so now. You can do so here.

Or, if you have sent a message, please send another one in support of the "Read the Bills Act." Use your personal comments to take note of the 10-hour reading that took place last night. Tell them you oppose the "Climate Security Act," and support the "Read the Bills Act" as a way to protect the American people against irresponsible legislation. You can send that message here.

Please also help us grow larger and stronger, so that we can eventually force Congress to pass the "Read the Bills Act." Generous DC Downsizers have pledged to give $3,600 if others will join together to donate an equal amount. This means every dollar you give up to $3,600 will be worth two.

You can contribute by starting a monthly credit card pledge. It could be a micro-pledge of $3, $5 or $8, or a larger pledge of $15 or $25 per month. One-time donations would also help us to earn that $3,600 matching pledge. You can contribute here.

NOTE: If you want to forward this message to others (we hope you do!), or post it on your blog, it's okay to cut out the funding portion. In addition, this message is also posted on our blog, and you can leave comments there if you so desire. 

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.
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