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Thursday, March 29, 2018


I just read an email from the office of Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer. The gist of it was that he had voted NO on the recent omnibus spending bill and he gave his reasons why - or at least some of them.  He objected to failure to eliminate duplication in environmental review of Minnesota mining, he objected to failure to repeal Obama’s Waters of the United States Act - which turns the mud puddle in the middle of your field into “navigable waters” and subject to federal control, he objected to the length of 2,200 pages and to the fact that Congress had less than 17 hours in which to “read” this bill.  


His objections are noted and are found entirely reasonable.  This bill of 2,200 pages, which was shoved over the transom 17 hours before the vote, was never intended to be read.  Senator Ted Cruz has stated that he doubts that even its four authors have read it all, and his doubts seem well-founded.  In case you are interested in these details, the authors are Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York), Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Speaker of the House, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).  None of them would be too likely to pass a quiz on the exact contents of this bill.


All of this is bad enough, but this bill represents $1.3 trillion in spending.  Do any of these people remember that we already are collapsing under $20 trillion-plus in debt?  Does the young genius Paul Ryan ever pause to think about this? Apparently not. Just a few short years ago there were those who had viable plans which could have begun to significantly reduce this burden on American taxpayers.  We are rocketing away from this possibility every time Congress meets.


In addition to the obscene length of this bill, in the Senate there was no opportunity to propose amendments.  Mitch McConnell forbade this because presumably anything worth proposing might have risked losing the support of Chuck Schumer and the Democrats.  


On Ben Shapiro’s broadcast yesterday, Senator Ted Cruz suggested that the Republicans stick to the kind of bills which would require a mere majority of 51 votes in the Senate and focus on those issues where they can agree, maybe things like making last year’s tax cuts permanent and getting rid of the unworkable Obamacare.  


The problem with a bill of 2,200 pages - even with sufficient time for people to possibly read it if they have absolutely no other duties and an endless supply of hot coffee - is that such an incredibly long document can conceal many undesirable provisions which, if people were aware of them, would sink the bill.  Thus the longer the bill, the greater the likelihood that Americans would reject it, that even Congress would reject it. Now, this bill, however overwhelming it is to read, is not by any means the longest in recent history. The Affordable Care Act was about 2,300 pages. We are seeing more and more of these ridiculously long bills thrust into the hands of congressmen with less than 24 hours to read them.  Of course they are driving blind in Congress. There is no way this fire hose of words can possibly be adequately weighed by our representatives. These representatives we elect are more and more often being denied an opportunity to debate them on their merits. What kind of representative government IS this? Answer: we have effectively eliminated any kind of representative government by the sheer volume of these bills.  Those who are writing this legislation are, in effect, subverting our very Constitutional system of government. They know full well what they are about, by the way. They are just as smart as we are.


For a few days and once in a while during the coming campaign season we will hear candidates bring up things that were lamentably omitted in this bill, some will, like Congressman Emmer, take issue with the massive spending, the hidden agendas, the physical bulk of the paper itself.  All points well taken.


One thing we could and should do is pass a Constitutional Amendment which prohibits any bills, spending or other, which exceed the length of the Constitution itself (which runs under 20 pages).  True, they won’t be able to go into deep detail, but these details should be left to state and local governments if they are too intricate for Congress to put into a 20-page bill (not, as has become the norm, left to federal, unelected agencies, by the way!).  I do not normally favor the idea of tinkering even slightly with our Constitution, but this might be the one worthwhile exception. We need transparency in our government. There is NO WAY to ever have transparency in a 2,200-page bill passed less than 24 hours after the ink has dried enough to distribute it to our representatives in Washington.  


All you Tea Party patriots, take note.  There is nothing wrong with our Constitution.  We do not need to rewrite it. It DOES need a tune-up.  This is an example of a legitimate, reasonable and workable amendment.  Let’s face it, in 1789, our founders were too honest to conceive of a tactic such as this and if any had the rest would have shut him down.  They were far too wise. That is why, when writing the document which was to guide a brand new nation through unchartered territory and an uncertain future, they wrote sparingly, carefully, simply and eloquently.  There is no way the Constitutional Convention of 1789 would have passed a 2,200-page constitution! And if they had, the states would never have ratified it. Limiting the length of a bill brought to vote in Congress should join repeal of the 16th (federal income tax) and 17th (direct election of senators) as achievable goals for reform - and it is no coincidence that they would undo mischief of Wilson-era legislation.  This would be a new one necessitated by the unbecoming cunning and corruption rampant among our Senate and House leadership today.


The only responsible way in which we can address problems at the constitutional level is taking issues one at a time, debating each alone, and giving each full consideration and reflection before changing our foundational document.  I would never - ever - advocate a “convention”, no matter what label is used for it, no matter what big-name “conservative” media personality is pushing for it. But we can take problems one at a time and carefully and respectfully solve them.


Let’s suggest this key change to our candidates before we offer them our support.  This one simple fix could give us honesty and transparency where the subterfuges and chicanery has been robbing us.  Thank God for at least some honest men of integrity in our leadership, like Emmer and Cruz. Let’s give them a fighting chance to prevail.



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