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The Lost Art of Legislation


Valin

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Letters From An Ohio Farmer:

6/7/11

To the Members of the 112th Congress:

One of the head-scratching moments of the congressional debate leading up to the passage last year of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”) was then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response when asked about the contents of the 2,000-page draft law [see Ohio Farmer Letter, "Reconstitutionalizing America"]. You recall that Speaker Pelosi said, “We have to pass the bill so you can see what’s in it.” She was not alone with this thought. Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that had key jurisdiction over the health care bill, said something similar: “I don’t think you want me to waste my time to read every page of the health care bill. You know why? It’s statutory language. We hire experts.”

Both comments generated considerable ridicule, especially from people who opposed the legislation. But both comments bring to light a fundamental fact of modern American government: Congress no longer “legislates” (that is, passes binding universal laws) in the way the Founders intended when they wrote the Constitution. Instead, Congress passes general statutes containing policy goals, but delegates the power to write the actual operating laws to executive branch administrators and independent agencies. In practical terms, this means that the executive branch and independent administrative agencies, rather than Congress, actually determine the details—the real law as it will operate on citizens. This might be acceptable except that the process of administrative government is increasingly arbitrary, and arbitrary government is the very definition of lawlessness.

(Snip)

It may be necessary for Congress to delegate the working out of many details to administrative agencies. But this practice has come with the high cost of degrading the deliberative function of Congress’s lawmaking power. The easy delegation of the details is why many large laws are rushed to passage in a less than transparent manner. True debate and deliberation has atrophied. This slow abdication of legislative responsibility on the part of Congress started many decades ago, and is no simple matter to fix. As a general principle members of Congress ought to refuse to vote for statutes that delegate large amounts of the real lawmaking to another branch. If the health care law’s perverse consequences (such as the possibility that, without a waiver, McDonald’s would have had to drop health insurance for all its employees) were laid at the feet of Congress, then Congress would write laws more carefully, or move more quickly to amend them as they should. In one word, is this not a good occasion for Congress to assume more responsibility for its actions?

Ohio Farmer
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I think we will have to deal with the inflated sense of importance and entitlement that our elected representatives have. We need to cap their salaries and benefits (and eliminate many of the "benefits", such as retirement.)

 

I think they should meet like the Texas legislature does: every two years, and only for a session. They have to hold real jobs to support themselves while they're not legislating.

 

The nation is too complicated for our federal legislatures to meet only part time now? If so, it may be because they have made it so, with excessive legislation and growth of the federal bureaucracy.

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I think we will have to deal with the inflated sense of importance and entitlement that our elected representatives have. We need to cap their salaries and benefits (and eliminate many of the "benefits", such as retirement.)

 

I think they should meet like the Texas legislature does: every two years, and only for a session. They have to hold real jobs to support themselves while they're not legislating.

 

The nation is too complicated for our federal legislatures to meet only part time now? If so, it may be because they have made it so, with excessive legislation and growth of the federal bureaucracy.

 

 

Makes me gag when I see these guys complaining about the 'golden parachutes' that CEO's get. They don't get a parachute, the get a plane!! They should have 401K's that they contribute to and SS like their constituents! Term limits-real jobs!

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righteousmomma

Agree with both of you.

Serving in Congress- House, Senate wherever should not be a "career" with tenure but a service to the Country. The President has a limit of terms - why not pipsqueaks like Weiner? You know the old saying "Those who can't -- teach? (Which I, an art education major and teacher certified, have always found most insulting and irritating) should be said in truth about much of Congress and the Presidency and a good many Senators. Especially on the DemoRat side. ;):rolleyes:

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