Diary

Congressional Reform Goes Beyond Electing the Right Speaker

Momentarily, let’s talk principles instead of specific people. Throughout Congressional history, there appear to be ongoing periods of greater and greater centralization of power in the Speaker of the House. Eventually, it becomes too destructive and someone or some people step up to decentralize the power.

 

There is an absolutely amazing array of talent and intelligence in Congress, but somehow, far too many on both sides of the aisle get to DC they hand over their deductive reasoning function to their leader. Further, they get furious if anyone calls attention to that fact.

 

Right now this very month, this very week, we have one of those historic opportunities to return “power to the people.” Unfortunately, it will continue to take a great deal of encouragement from constituents. But, look how that has been working lately! A Speaker steps down early? Historic.

 

It is important to note that the post-watergate Congress were the most liberal in our history until [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ] took the gavel. Yet, it was during the post-Watergate era when so many rules were put in place that control our ability to make the reforms that could save us from financial, physical, geographic, and electronic oblivion. For example, they put in place the automatic increase in every federal budget. So if Republicans succeed in slowing the rate of growth, they are vilified as heartlessly making draconian cuts.

 

Another brilliant trick was to create so many redundant give-away programs under different departments that when an attempt is made to reign in waste of even one welfare program, the reformer is demagogued as hateful and mean.

 

So here is a list of things we need to accomplish and do so quickly to help save this little experiment in a democratic republic.

(1) Decentralize the Speaker’s Power by only allowing one vote on the Steering Committee that appoints committees.

(2) Allow each Committee to elect its own Chairman.

(3) Allow each Committee to decide what hearings are held and what bills are brought up for hearings and passage.

(4) Allow a vote of Confidence or No Confidence for a party’s top leaders every 2 years before any leadership elections occur. If a leader fails to win a majority vote of “Confidence,” then he or she is automatically eliminated from seeking that office again. That throws the race wide open without retaliation from the leader.

(5) Use Dan Webster’s template of reform in the Florida House where he eliminated all sub-committees and made all committees very small but created more committees giving each one some exclusive area of jurisdiction. That empowers every single Representative.

(6) Require more oversight hearings of every single agency and department, while passing a law or at least a House Rule that any non-compliance, failure to appear, or failure to produce information by a agency or department will delay that agency or department’s funding until such time as there is compliance.

(7) End forever the automatic increases in every federal department and agencies budget by going to a “Zero-Baseline Budget” demanding the Senate agree or the no one will be funded until they do. Let the nay-sayers try to justify to the American public where no one, no family, no business, and no charity gets an automatic increase in their annual budget.

(8) Eliminate the monopoly of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to do the scoring of our bills. They perpetually under score spending bills, and predict tax revenue losses from tax cuts when just the opposite occurs. Since I first proposed making scoring competitive so we can score the scorers, do away with CBO, Dr. Arthur Laffer has been working the model that can make that work and tells me he is near release of his specific proposal. Failure to take this step means reformers are vilified by the lethargic encouragers of government bloat who cite CBO for support. For heavens sake, it turns out CBO’s margin of error on their score of ObamaCare could end up being anywhere from 100-400%. Get rid of them.

(9) Create a “Public Assistance” Appropriation Committee and put every single appropriation of any type of public assistance in there. Only then will we see the massive duplication and waste so we can cut it.  An example is one that Dan Webster found by studying the annual appropriations for all the different agencies charged with transportation to different individuals. He says he thinks he has found most of them and there are 85 for certain. Most have white 20 seat vans that do very little actual transporting. However, if you tried to eliminate one in a given department, you would be demonized for hating seniors, women, children, or whatever. However, if you have a list of all 85 in the same budget, it is easy to point out that we don’t hate anyone. We just know the American people could use that money rather than have it sitting dormant in big parking lots unused.

(10) Make clear at the beginning of each year that there will be no Continuing Resolutions. We are going to have Appropriations bills and whichever House does not produce them will be guilty of shutting down that department that they fail to specifically appropriate

(11) Eliminate all regulations that Congress does not specifically vote to affirm, or at least require Congressional approval of regulations going forward.

 

Hopefully, you get the idea. Real reform does not just mean changing a personality in a position. Reform means changing the post-Watergate, pro-bloated government rules that have cost Americans trillions and trillions of dollars. I apparently will never be elected to a Congressional leadership position, because of the anger I engendered by announcing for Speaker in January to remove their excuse for voting for Boehner because “no one else has announced for the job so he is the only one to legitimately vote for.” But, Arthur Laffer told me I was a “Big Idea guy,” and I do have some big ideas. Hope you like them and will encourage your Congressman to support them.