Change that we need in Washington

Yes, I am blatantly stealing the entirety of this post from another blogger, the thoughtful, foul mouthed, gin fueled, America loving currently living in Japan blogger: Letters To a Dying Dream

1.  Term Limits; the reason so many of the politicians today don’t have to worry about any consequences for their actions is because many cannot be thrown out of office due to the support of their districts who they essentially pay off and bribe, using tax dollars from the whole country.  We all complain about pork and if a congressman knows that he only has a limited time on office he has less incentive to try to bribe the electorate.  The presidency has term limits why not Congress?  To fix some the the problems The Presidency and seats in the Senate should be one six year term with the House seats being one four year term.  No member who has served their six year term in the House or Senate can ever sit in the House or Senate again in any other district or State.  If a House member is really a voice for the people, the state would elect him to the Senate, if he doesn’t have support outside his own little district than he won’t get elected, this way he can’t spend all his time trying to us taxpayers money to buy votes.  The new election cycle would be every 2 years dividing up the seats evenly to insure continuous turnover of the House and Senate with the Presidential elections starting on Year Three of the new policy and continuing from there.  Term limits should be mandatory for all state offices as well.

Yes, this is a good idea. I don’t know about the specifics he mentions here, but the fiefdoms that have been built up in Congress are too strong a temptation for corruption. I would also add to this that Senators should not be directly elected, but should go back to be representatives of the STATES

2.  The policy of giving members of Congress in both the Federal government and the states retirement packages for life after only serving one term needs to end.  No matter how long a Congressmen or President has served they should not be rewarded for life for the simple ability to dupe people into getting the majority of the vote.  The only retirement package most politicians deserve is a life sentence in prison and they certainly don’t deserve to leach off of the taxpayers for life.

Yes.

3.  Every Law that is passed must be able to show how it is Constitutional before it can be enacted, if the Bill and it’s sponsors cannot show how this law would be Constitutional it cannot be made into law.  Any member of the government violating or attempting to violate any constitutional rights can be impeached for this offense, the penalty for violating the constitution is a lifetime ban from any governmental post, up to an including working the counter at the post office, with the worst violations punishable by imprisonment or death.  Further more, all bills must be read in their entirety by every member of Congress as well as the President before they may vote on it or in the case of the President either sign it into law or veto it.  Not only must every bill be read in it’s entirety by every politician who will be voting on it, it must be read out loud in it’s entirety the floor of both the House and Senate by a member of each with every member who plans on voting on it present and must be posted in the public domain for no less than three weeks prior to the actual voting in order for the Citizens of this country to be given ample time to read and understand it before the vote may take place.  The only exception to this is anything that one would need a security clearance to read (almost nothing) can be omitted but the rest of the Bill must still be read.

Not a bad idea, but need to find some group or government agency to deal with this issue. Also it blurs the line a bit between branches of government.

4.  No law can be made by any unelected official.  Only elected members of Congress have the right under the constitution to make laws, any law or regulations not coming from Congress are unconstitutional and are illegal.  Any law that is proposed must be written by either a member of the House or Senate.  Any Regulatory agency who wishes a law to be enacted must request Congress – who must be able to prove it’s constitutionality – to write them a regulation into law before for any regulation can take effect.  Further more, any Bills coming from Congress must be written by a member of Congress and my not be written even in part by anyone else including Congressional staff.

This one is probably a bit impractical so I can’t say yes to this one. But I agree with the sentiment.

5.  The government may not be allowed to give money to any business or organization, unless it is a payment for goods or services rendered, such as buying military hardware, or equipment necessary for work, such as office computers or fax machines.   No money may be spent on things like grants, or subsidies.

YES

6.  Voter registration must be done at the courthouse, no private entity may do this for the government.  If people are too stupid to figure out how to register to vote, they probably don’t need to vote.  When voting the voter must be able to prove he is who he says he is, if someone can’t figure out how to get a photo ID they probably don’t need to be voting, plus it’s not like you can’t scrounge up the $10 for an ID by panhandling for a day or so if you really want to vote that badly.  This will help keep outside organizations with hidden political agendas from attempts at fraud.

Good idea, except it violates the state sovereignty issue. But I do like the idea of limiting voter registration to a government function.

7.  The Federal Government needs to get out of any business that is not specifically in the constitution.  The 9th and 10th amendments are not negotiable, nor is any other.  If your State does not provide a service you want and it is not within the federal Governments Constitutional duties move to a state that does do it, or lobby you state representative like you are supposed to do.  If something is unconstitutional on both levels then lobby to change the Constitution, it is legal to do, although most people might not want to do it, that’s life.  Remember this, if you can ignore one part of the constitution to get what you want that means the whole thing means nothing, even the parts you like.

Yep. People need to be reminded of this

8.  Party affiliation must be removed from the ballot. Too many people simply vote for a party without even bothering to know anything about the candidate, by removing the party affiliation  it would force people to at least learn a little bit about the different candidates before they vote.  If they still want to vote only on party lines that is fine but they have to do the research to figure it out in the first place.

YES YES and YES again. Party politics is killing our republic

9.  Tax law has to be standardized, when companies or special interests can get the government to give them tax breaks in order to get a leg up on their competition it creates a climate where people with money have incentives to bribe politicians.  Subsidies also need to be done away with for the same reason.  It is more economical to use sugar than corn syrup as a sweetener, however do to Government subsidies it makes corn syrup appear cheaper when purchasing, but that is only a trick since the real cost is hidden and passed on to consumers in the form of higher taxes.  Not only does this give an unfair advantage to the corn syrup industry but it ends up costing the taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

Yes, except I would keep the charity deduction

10.  The Speaker of the House must not be chosen by a political party, and should be elected to that position through a vote by the people with no person allowed to hold that position for longer than three years.  Elections must be held 6 weeks prior to the departure of the former Speaker.  Any member of the House who wishes to become Speaker must submit their name for the position one month prior to the election, and after the initial election a secondary runoff election for the top five candidates two weeks later and in the event of a tie or if the top two candidates are within a 5% margin another election will be held two weeks later with only those two on the ballot.

Don’t know about the details of this one, but see the benefit in trying to minimize party influence

11. Any Elected Official convicted of a crime the penalty for the crime should be the highest legal punishment doubled without eligibility for early release or parole. So if something would usually be a maximum three year jail sentence and a $10,000 fine they would automatically get six years in prison a $20,000 fine. In the case of any crime over a misdemeanor they should be stripped of their right to vote permanently, be banned from ever serving in any branch of the government or ever holding any kind of State or Federal job and lose any entitlement to any State of Federal aid they may be otherwise entitle too permanently including pensions, welfare and Social Security.  Any crime committed by an Elected Official that would normally carry a maximum fifteen year jail sentence automatically requires capital punishment rather than a doubling of the jail sentence, the doubling of fines however will still be valid and must be paid by the Official prior to his death or by his estate afterwards, so that if the maximum penalty for the Officials crime is normally fifteen years in prison and a $250,000 dollar fine the Official would be required to pay $500,000 and receive the Death Penalty.

Really? Hmm… violates the equal protection clause of the constitution. Our politicians may be scum, but they are citizens

12.  Any bill that proposes a raise in the salaries or benefits of any elected official must be voted on by the people and not the elected officials themselves.  The only time it is permissible for elected officials to raise their own salaries without a popular vote shall be that every ten years the House and Senate may vote on raising salaries but only enough that is covers the average inflation over that previous ten year period rounded down to the whole number, so that if the average rate of inflation was 3.6% they can vote on raising their salaries by 3%,  If it was 1.9% they can raise their salaries by 1%.

This works, but we have to find a way to make it work as a national referendum…

13.  Any governmental expenditures must be posted in the public domain except in the case of certain Defense expenditures where it would give away classified information.  All expenditures on classified projects are posted with only the total monetary amount of all expenditures under the title of “Miscellaneous Defense Spending”.

I like the posting. I think this is already supposed to be happening

14.  The federal Government cannot be allowed to run a deficit except in extreme emergencies such as war time.  After the emergency is over all debts must be paid off within 4 years.

Excellent, though I think safeguards need to be built in to prevent the government from declaring something an “emergency” just to have deficit spending

15.  Any law may be constitutionally challenged in Federal Court without having to show that it is personally harmful in any way other that it’s violation of your Constitutional Rights.   That does not mean that it has to go to the Supreme Court but it does have to recognized and tried by the lower district courts.

Yes, the violation of my rights is enough for a lawsuit to go forth. I should not have to prove harm

16.  Reintroduction of the backing of currency with precious metals. The government must back all monies with either gold or Silver and must have enough of each to cover the amount of paper or electronic money.  The government cannot print more money than 90% of the worth of the gold and silver reserves in it’s possession except in the time of war it can print up to 99% but only as a last resort. It can however print less but no less than 60 percent.

Yes, though I don’t know about the specific percentages. This would be a serious curb on inflation and artificial inflation of the currency by the Fed

What a great list. Pragmatically speaking, many of these ideas would not be implemented and the public would cry bloody murder over having their favorite sacred cows sacrificed, but changes such as these probably are the way to go if we mean to restore constitutional government. What do you think?

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7 Responses to Change that we need in Washington

  1. Ben Hoffman says:

    We should start with election reform. Publicly funded campaigns would solve a lot of the problems, most of which are the result of big business buying candidates.

  2. To clarify some of my points.

    Number 3: All that would need to be done is that the Bill must site the exact article in the Constitution that would apply to the Bill and how it applies. It’s not a perfect fix but it’s more than we have now. Plus it wouldn’t blur the lines because each branch has the duty to uphold the Constitution, this is just forcing Congress to defend legally the laws they hope to enact and does not mean that the laws cannot still be challenged in court.

    Plus I should have added “Intentionally violating the Constitution”. I will have to change that.

    Number 4: It can be done at the State Courthouse, I wasn’t differentiating between Sate and Federal Courthouses on that, but I can see the confusion.

    Number 11: It would require a change in the 14th Amendment only to provide this one exception.

    Number 14: True, I didn’t really go more into it because other than war or mass famine I don’t really think much else is an emergency.

    • And other what I already said about the 14th Amendment some of the other things would probably require additional Amendments as well such as the term limits and voting on the Speaker of the House.

      Also with Number 12 it would have to be a national referendum vote to make it work.

  3. mainenowandthen says:

    Indeed, a great list.

    Politicians don’t rate high on my list, so I really don’t see anything here that I would have a problem with.

    At this point, incumbents have managed to stack the deck so much in their favor that their re-election is pretty much assured unless they commit a crime dastardly enough to put the average citizen in jail for life and so well-publicized that even their staunchest supporters cannot concoct enough lies to assure their retaining their privileged lifestyles.

    There has definitely been a gradual and sustained decline in our constitutional rights, propagated by members of both political parties. Drastic measures are the only way to reverse this abomination, but I don’t believe that the public is sufficiently (a.) aware and (b) angry enough to generate the necessary support for a change to the pollution and corruption that pervades our governmental process.

  4. Interesting list. I strongly agree with item #1 and #14 (and make #14 stronger- deficits can only get to a certain percent, period- all increases in spending must have increases in taxes). Let’s start there and then see what problems those solve in and of themselves.

    As I watch this healthcare debacle before Congress continue to unfold, I have come to the conclusion I’m an incrementalist. Passing a single bill to recreate and redirect the entire healthcare industry would be (and will be) a complete disaster of unintended consequences. If Congress actually passes this monstrosity (which I still have serious doubts whether they will), we’ll be back to the drawing board within the next decade, I’m convinced. I’m 100% certain the costs will spiral out of control.

    At any rate, I think they should go after healthcare incrementally. Cherry-pick a few good ideas and pass them, see how they work. Sweeping overhauls are not the way to go in my mind. Too controversial, too much room for error and unintended consequence.

    So, that’s why I’m for picking a couple of good items from the list above, enacting them and seeing what they do. Term limits would make a huge difference.

    Problem is, how could we ever bring about term limits on Congress?

    • “how could we ever bring about term limits on Congress?”

      Amendment to the Constitution. The cynic in me would say it would only be possible if you put a gun to their heads. Something I am not recommending or telling people to do. It would take work but if you get enough people angry enough and vote in the right people it is possible.

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