If It Were Rational, Their Power Would Decrease

Theodore Gatchel suggests that one way to improve the function of Congress is to narrow the focus of each legislative item:

If the Democrats had broken health-care legislation into smaller, “clean” bills, each of which dealt with a single aspect of health care, President Obama might well have gained more of what he wanted, and Tuesday night’s results might have been very different. If the Democrats had included tort reform and letting insurance companies compete across state lines — both of which could reduce consumers’ costs — in their agenda, they undoubtedly would have received much-needed bipartisan support.

Gatchel notes that politicians dislike such an approach because it would make it more difficult to slip unpopular and self-serving measures into laws. It would also reduce incumbents’ access to deniability — claiming to have opposed unpopular aspects of bills, but pointing to positive aspects as the areas of focus. The extreme nature of ObamaCare’s legislative process shows the ultimate form of that reasoning; it became starkly the reality that legislators were pointing to a few positive intentions — regardless of practical likelihood — and insisting that they compensated for whatever might prove to be in the bill.
One should note, in counterbalance to Gatchel’s suggestion, that there are circumstances in which piecemeal legislation can be less effective, even incoherent, even harmful. On a broad scale, the example comes to mind of leftist regulatory schemes that favor large incumbent businesses deleteriously mixed with rightist free-market principles, creating a free rein for monopolistic powerhouses.
That danger could easily be mitigated, however, if bills contained provisions that required all of their key components to be passed individually before they collectively became law.

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Patrick
Patrick
10 years ago

I thought John McCain said in 2008 that he would make it his goal to eliminate all pork/pet project spending. How’s he coming along with that? When you see all the things that Mitch McConnell has named after him in Kentucky, apparently not too well.
Why can’t he get a coalition of even 5-10 Senators to start screaming about pork every day. During the campaign, McCain tweeted his top 10 pork projects every single day. Where’s that now?
I just think that if you’re going to campaign on an issue that you’ll tackle “if elected”, but you can still take it on if not elected, then you should still be going after it. It shouldn’t be hard for a small group to send out a press release to every American news organization with info and bill numbers every single day about the pork.
Clean it up!

chuckR
chuckR
10 years ago

A good start would be adopting a goal of meeting Heritage Foundation’s $340 billion spending cuts within a few years.
I don’t know how the House alone could rein in regulatory agencies which are the most unchecked and unaccountable arms of government. I like the idea of cap ‘n trade. Want a shiny new reg? Cough up another that will be rescinded and document – at length please – how the impact of each on society at large is equivalent. Can’t find one in your agency? That’s where the trade comes in – shop it to another agency – kinda like trading draft picks. To get serious, anything that ties up these faceless unaccountable bureaucrats is highly desirable, as is directed funding freezes of their agencies and a policy of attrition in staffing.

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