If the job is too tough, then quit

Now we have another congressman whining about actually having to read bills before voting on them. First it was Representative John “You gotta be kidding” Conyers, and now it’s New Hampshire Democrat Paul Hodes telling the editorial board of the Nashua Telegraph to get real:

Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes (NH-02) believes reading every bill in Congress “would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done.”

Members of Congress who don’t read the bills they are voting on “is not necessarily the major problem with the way Congress functions,” he said.

Hodes, who is the sole Democratic candidate in the race to replace the retiring New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, made the remarks during a recent editorial board meeting with the Nashua Telegraph.

“Hodes said it’s not realistic to expect members of Congress to read every bill word-for-word, as Congress took more than 2,000 votes in the session that ended in December,” the paper reports.

This year, Hodes voted in support of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and for so-called cap-and-trade legislation. Both measures were finalized late in the legislative process and rushed to a vote before any individual member could read the bills.

I don’t know. Maybe I’ve got this whole representative democracy thing wrong. Am I silly to think someone I choose to run the government for me should actually understand the choices he makes, rather than push the voting buttons at random? By Mr. Hodes’ logic, why even show up at committee hearings to ask questions and hear witnesses? That’s got to be awfully hard, too, on the poor, overworked congresscritters.

Look, I don’t expect them to read every single bill that comes before the chamber, but on matters as consequential as a $787 billion “emergency” stimulus  bill, or health-care reforms and cap-and-trade measures that aim to establish federal control over vast swathes of the economy… You’re damn right I expect Hodes & Co. to read and understand the bills, or recuse themselves from voting on it!

And maybe they should resign, too, if that’s too much to ask of them.  Waiting

(via Hot Air)

On a related note, Iowahawk again turns over his blog to a guest-editorial, this time from Health and Human Services Secretary Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Democratic Republican Democratic Senator Arlen Specter on a growing crisis in America – that America’s Government Losing Faith in Out-of-Touch Constituents:

Nowhere has this disturbing trend been more evident than in the recent debate over health care reform. Like hundreds of our fellow legislators and government officials, we recently traveled to a town hall meeting to distribute a grassroots press release explaining why this critical legislation is a done deal. Our advance staffs said that should anticipate a respectful, positive hearing from local media and bused-in union members. Instead we were greeted by a rude howling mob of idiot “voters” who refused to listen to reason, and ruined what should have been a killer photo op for our re-election ad campaign.

Have these arrogant ivory tower armchair quarterbacks ever had to live with the pressures of being a working stiff Senator or Cabinet Secretary in Washington DC? Have they ever had to juggle markup language on a supplemental appropriations bill, or deal with an incompetent Chief of Staff who constantly double-books fund raising dinners? Apparently not, if their whiny obnoxious chants are any indication. “Read the Bill! Read the Bill!” blah, blah, blah, as if we weren’t already exhausted from writing and voting for the damned thing.

Mockery. It’s what makes American politics great. Hee hee

8 Responses to If the job is too tough, then quit

  1. odmono says:

    The only thing I think I disagree with in your post is that I DO expect them to read every bill that comes before the chamber or at the very least if they don’t read it don’t vote on it. Would that slow things down? Probably. And to that I would say “GOOD”!

    • Phineas Fahrquar says:

      In a way, I actually agree with you: they shouldn’t vote for bills they haven’t read. But I had in mind the dozens of minor bills and commemorative proclamations they do every day. It is impractical to expect them to read every one of those. But anything of real import is another matter, altogether.

      Of course, this is also an argument that perhaps Congress is passing too many bills in the first place.

  2. rwisher says:

    Where is it said they HAVE to pass thousands of bill? For the love of God, stop!!! The problem is we let them inside the tent on so many issues they now have power over them. That means now they have to pass laws concerning issues they should have never had control over in the first place. Maybe we should force them to back off on about a thousand things they think they have a right to tell us how to handle (education, kids, jobs, healthcare, land ownership, cars, fuel, clothing, medicine, TV(???), even sports) and they’ll find more time to read the bills they should pay attention to. Things like common defense, budget, treaties.

    I’m telling you, in a different time, we’d be building guillotines!!

  3. Porkchop Pollhater says:

    Here’s the way it works: you have a bill you actually wrote yourself (or your staff wrote it). You’ve probably read that one. Then you try and get other House members to sign up as co-authors. They may read it. Then it runs through a committee with members of both parties. They either read it or have their staff read it and give them a summary. They then recommend how everybody else should vote on it, and in the end easily less than 5% of the voting membership has actually read the bill.

    Many times you’ll vote yes on someone else’s bill if they’ll vote yes on yours. Since getting your bill through is important, you’ll (at best) read the summary of their bill. The system is built on trust and reciprocity.

    This isn’t new. This is how it worked (at least as far back as) the 1980s, and it still works that way now. What was true then (and is probably true now) is that relatively low-level flunkies are actually writing the laws, and part of the reason they can generate so much work for lawyers is that their work is frequently poorly written and self-contradictory.

    However, is it really all that different from bloggers who read a talking point and then post about it without really being informed beyond the talking points? I honestly can’t understand how anyone who wasn’t making money off of the F-22 would actually support continuing the program, yet people who I consider to be otherwise well-read and intelligent jumped on that bandwagon, and defended their positions with either empty talking points they got from other blogs or much too broad generalizations.

    Everybody with any power, authority, or responsibility for other people will necessarily delegate. If you don’t, you’re paralyzed because of the time you spend on every decision, and you don’t get anything done.

    But having said that, I’d be much happier if they cut back on the volume of legislation. I’d be happier if the decision makers had fewer decisions to make. But short of revolution, that’s living in fantasy land.

  4. Chris says:

    You do know that the “guest blog” on IowaHawk is an Onion-style satire, yes?

    • Phineas Fahrquar says:

      No, actually. I’m quite stupid. You mean Arlen and Kathleen didn’t write that? Whoa….

    • Pollhater says:

      I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

  5. Chris says:

    Just checking… glad you recognize a modest proposal when you see it.

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