Aleck Loker, Writer

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Congressional Reform

Posted by Aleck Loker on October 1, 2013 at 2:10 PM

REMEMBER THE SUPERCOMMITTEE?

It wasn't that long ago that Congress appointed the "super-committee" to arrive at a federal budget plan that would bring spending in line and end the political wrangling over the out-of-control federal appetite for more money and more programs. The super-committee failed miserably and the result was "sequestration" a euphemism for Congressional incompetence. Now the House has proposed a joint committee of Congress to arrive at a spending bill that will carry the government through the first quarter of the fiscal year. Senate Response: we're not playing, na na na na!

CONGRESS IS AS BROKE AS THE FEDERAL TREASURY: LET'S NOT PAY THEM

Proposals to restore the U. S. Congress to a Reasonably Productive Legislative Body:

1. TERM LIMITS FOR BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS ARE ONE SOLUTION TO THIS LEGISLATIVE CRISIS. The members of Congress are in a constant mode of campaigning to keep their very lucrative pay and benefits--that far exceed their abilities or performance. These people are ego driven and their egos are quickly inflated when they are elected.

One way to trim those egos and end the job perpetuation activities they engage in--activities that don't advance the public's interest--is to limit the members of Congress to a single term. Currently members of the House serve for two years and can be re-elected ad infinitum. The members of the Senate are elected to six years and also can serve forever.

I propose that members of both houses be elected to one four-year term and be prohibited from ever serving a second term. That would eliminate the grasping for campaign funds once elected, and would, hopefully, encourage the elected members of Congress to focus on the people's business rather than their own future as career politicians.

2. CONGRESSIONAL PAY AND BENEFITS SHOULD BE ALTERED TO AVOID THIS LEGISLATIVE CRISIS IN THE FUTURE. In addition to term limits, members of Congress should receive pay based on a merit system and capped at $100,000. That figure should be linked to the same COLA as other federal employees.

This merit system would be administered by a committee in the state each member represents. The member would be guaranteed 50% of the capped pay and the remaining 50% would be paid or partially paid based on how well the member had served his state in the judgment of the state committee on Congressional pay.

3. FIRST LET'S KILL ALL THE LAWYERS (AND LOBBYISTS), TO PARAPHRASE SHAKESPEARE.

Lobbyists and the news media are really where the current power lies in the US. We don't elect members of Congress or the President. Those elections are heavily influenced by the media.

Think about how little we learn about a candidate’s specific plans or ideas for action once he/she is elected. How can we really compare competing candidates when the media controls and alters the information flow. We receive, as a result, the President and members of Congress (and Governors) that the media has chosen for us.

As an example, there are three significant candidates for Governor of Virginia. In the recently televised gubernatorial debates, two candidates were presented. The Libertarian candidate was not a participant even though it is obvious that citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia are desperate for a third choice.

4. NO ADD-ONS TO FEDERAL BILLS AND LINE ITEM VETO. Congress talks big about ending "pork barrel" spending, but has done little to eliminate it. A plethora of special appropriations are tacked on to unrelated bills and winked at when they go through the congressional committees.

Add-ons should be eliminated with clear definitions of what can and what cannot be included in authorization and appropriation bills. Also, members of Congress should have to sign an affidavit that they have actually read the complete text of a bill before it passes out of committee and before it is voted on and enacted. That means the member should have read it, not just his/her staff. This might go a long way to paring down the length of federal bills, currently running hundreds to thousands of pages.

 

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