I have mixed emotions this time of year. I love the holidays but I hate what our elected representatives do to us in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the most dangerous time of the year.
While we are absorbed with the holidays, they are absorbed with seeing how much of our money they can spend or how many of their pet projects they can sneak through before they tiptoe out of town.
The Repubican-led House and the Democrat-controlled Senate are expected come together in a great kumbaya moment in the next few days to pass an omnibus (ominous is more like it) appropriation bill hashed out between congressional leaders behind closed doors.
It was released late Tuesday evening giving members only 48 hours to wade through the 1600 plus pages before the voting begins. Although a few details have been publicized, it would take days to fully digest all the gory details. It is wordy and purposefully difficult to understand, enough to challenge the most proficient Evelyn Wood’s graduate.
And, we are expected to praise them for passing this thing and avoiding a dreaded government shutdown. Bah humbug!
In short, this omnibus bill containing 11 appropriations bills — funds for the entire government through the end of the fiscal year (sans the Department of Homeland Security which is funded through February) is stuffed full of pork and ridiculous expenditures and projects which are an insult to every American taxpayer.
We’d be better off if they let the government grind to a halt rather than passing one of these last-minute, 11th hour monstrosities.
To be fair, the Republican-controlled House managed to pass seven (why not all?) of the 12 appropriations bills that make up the federal government on time, while the Democrat-controlled Senate passed zero, nada! (Both have to agree before a bill can be sent to the president.)
However, I would be willing to bet my last nickel that, in 2015, the new all Republican-led Congress won’t get the next budget passed on time without some kind of an omnibus just before Christmas. Call me suspicious!
Passing a budget — the entire budget — on time (October 1 is the start of the fiscal year) is the primary function of Congress. Nevertheless, Congress has not passed all 12 appropriations bills individually, in an orderly process, in the last 20 years.
If I could be king of the country for just one day, I would make a few changes that would keep us from going bankrupt.
I would change House and Senate rules to make any congressional leader who failed to get all 12 appropriations bills individually passed and delivered to the president on time ineligible for leadership. Any leader who cannot deliver these bills on time is unfit to lead!
In addition, I would make it mandatory that a tally of each member’s votes on overall spending measures (a plus or minus figure) be attached to his or her picture each year for all to see. Let’s see, Congressman X voted for a $10 billion reduction in overall spending (not much in terms of the federal budget, but a start). This would be like the warning label on prescription drugs or the nutritional label on packaged foods.
I would require this photo ID be worn by our lawmakers at all times. It must be clearly visible on each House or Senate member’s web page and on all campaign material. Furthermore, I would require that it be added to the end of all campaign commercials such as “Senator Z voted to increase federal spending by $500 billion last year which is hazardous to our nation’s fiscal health.” That would take the guesswork out of voting.
Just to make sure, I would remove all names from the ballot. Voters would be required to fill in the name of each candidate for whom they wish to vote and no cheatsheets allowed. That would end the practice of going down the ballot and just punching out the hole beside “incumbent.” And, remember, the longer those “incumbents” stay in office, the more they spend.
Maybe you want a bigger government and more debt passed on to your kids and grandkids? If so, you could vote for those big spenders, but at least you would know what you are getting.
To be sure, voters would be leaving a lot of the offices on the ballot blank. So much the better. If you don’t know a candidate’s name, you don’t know his or her record. You are, in effect, playing Russian Roulette at the ballot box.
Go ahead. Make me King for just one day.