Thursday, May 11, 2006

End GOP Congressional Machiavellianism

Budget makers should give us truth in budgeting and lawmaking. Instead we get "Clear Skies" (more pollution), "No Child Left Behind" (de-fund public schools and make profits for Bush's brother and others in the test scoring industry), the "Patriot Act" (unpatriotic undermining of the Constitution), "Pension Protection Act" (undermines pension) and budget making gone amok. There are many other examples. It's one thing to use effective PR and another to outright lie. Defrauding voters ought to be prohibited. But today it's business as usual.

To make matters worse, legislators frequently mislead concerning with what a vote of an opponent actually meant. If one voted no, did he or she vote yes for an alternate version? Everyone heard the oughtright bull that John Kerry was "against" body armor. He didnt' help matters when he said he was for the $87 billion spending bill before he was against it. But the fact remains, the GOP misled the public. John Kerry favored body armor. He just supported an alternate version to bring it to servicemen and women. It's unethical to misrepresent how the person voted on the issue. These are just a few of the perversions of lawmaking Republicans have had Machiavellian fun at our expense.

Democrats ought to shame GOPhers into reforming the legislative process. To that end, I propose the following Eight Commandments of Honest Legislation:

--The law title should say what it actually means, not be a cute acronym for the doing the opposite.
--Votes should be announced on a schedule and not changed or rigged to ram through a bill when a key voter for the other side leaves town or goes home for the evening.
--Substantive changes should not be added in the middle of the night before a vote.
--Lawmakers must be permitted to read the legislation before they vote. These days the opposition party isn't necessarily allowed to read the legislation before a vote.
--Lobbyists and contractors should not be permitted to write law or regulations.
--Laws should not be loaded with irrelevant legislation, which wouldn't pass is it saw the light of day.
--All votes should be roll call votes.
--Election opponents must not misrepresent the adversaries record. And if they do should have to purchase television ads in which they mea culpa and come clean.

Let's hold the GOP members in Congress (and their Democratic counterparts) feet to the fire. Legislative reform would go a long way to removing citizen cynicism and apathy. And it would make for better government.