Sunday, February 19, 2006

Letter to the Editor: Read the Bills Act

Published February 19, 2006
Appleton Post-Crescent

Mandatory bill reading would help in Capitol

To: The Editor,

Much has been written about the problems we have with our Congresscritters in Washington. The usual litany of complaints about low-down, two-faced politicians and lots of stuff about kowtowing to special interests, taking graft from big-time lobbyists (Jack Abramoff, anyone?) and hyper-political correctness.

What's missing is even a hint at a solution. But now there's a new approach advocated by that just might work. It's called the "Read the Bills Act" (RTBA).

Under the provisions of the RTBA, every one of our elected representatives would be required to attend sessions where new bills are read to them in all of their mind-numbing entirety.

The point being, so few bills in Congress are actually read by our representatives and senators.

They get summaries from their staffs. There may be public hearings for some bills, but those are simply face time in front of the cameras for our Washington stars.

If the RTBA actually came to a vote, imagine the dilemma your congressman would face. He simply couldn't admit publicly that he doesn't know what he's voting on.

A "no" vote on the RTBA would be like saying, "I think it's unconscionable for me to be required to know what I'm voting on. That's why I've got all these interns, to read the bills for me!"

Now imagine what it would be like if the RTBA were passed. Enormous omnibus spending bills would be history. Who in his right mind would sit through the reading of 1,000-plus pages by even the most exciting reader?

And if we, the lowly voters, got wind of bills containing subsidies, price supports, earmarks and special-interest sweetheart clauses, it's a lot less likely that they'd be passed. Maybe then we would really no longer have "legislation without representation."

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