One good thing about all those AIG bonuses that caused such a major stir earlier this year was that it highlighted the fact the most (if not all) members of Congress don't even read the bills they are voting on.
In the Stimulus package was an amendment (known as the Dodd Amendment) that allowed the AIG bonuses to be specifically exempted from any regulation. When Barack Obama put the presidential signature on that bill, it became the law of the land. Later, when the AIG bonuses became public, many of those who vote "Yea" on this measure became indignant that such bonuses would be paid out by a firm that took bailout money.
So, if those people had simply read the bill, or at least demanded a chance to see what was being inserted into the bill at 4:00 a.m., they would have known what they were voting for and wouldn't have ended up looking like the fools they are. Well, that's my theory anyway.
Now, with socialized health care on the horizon, it is once again looking like the Dem leadership is going to force a vote before the legislation can be thoroughly read and understood by those voting on it.
From the Washington Times:
|President Obama is pushing Congress to pass health care legislation that could nationalize as much as 10 percent of the economy. Most members of Congress will vote on this bill with no idea what's in it. |
Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, disparaged lawmakers for even pretending to read the laws they pass. "I love these members, they get up and say, 'Read the bill,' " he said last week at the National Press Club. "What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you've read the bill?"
The good, Mr. Conyers, is that Senators and Representatives will know exactly what they are voting for if they happen to be voting "Yea." Knowing what is in legislation will save Congress from being embarrassed (as in the above AIG example) and save the American people for having to admit that their Congress is a remake of the Keystone Kops.
|Mr. Conyers might think it's an antiquated notion that congressmen actually read legislation, but it is the most fundamental responsibility of elected representatives to know and understand laws and how they will affect the lives of their constituents. |
That is especially the case with such a gargantuan bill. The House version creates 53 new federal bureaucracies with everything from a Health Choices Administration to a Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund to a Health Benefits Advisory Committee. Thirty-three entitlement programs are created or expanded.
The notion is put to rest that government might cooperate with doctors and patients to work out what is best for providing care. The health care bill uses the assertive word "shall" 1,683 times. These passages are government mandates that force doctors, consumers and others in the health care profession to do what Congress orders. The word "penalty" is used 156 times for those who don't follow orders. "Tax" is referred to 172 times.
This legislation is so sweeping and so draconian that if it fails to produce as advertised (and I am betting it will spectacularly fail to do so), members of Congress who voted "Yea" are going to run and hide behind the tired and lame excuse that they "didn't know what was in the bill."
It happened with the AIG bonuses. It will happen with the socialized medicine bill.
You can access the original editorial on-line here:
Read The Bill, Congressmen
July 29, 2009