Monday, October 18, 2010

CHAIN LETTER POLITICS

I have to believe that there are a lot of people on the Internet who would like to see some change in the structure of our national government. Change they can really believe in.

I recently wrote a blog about the so-called “28th Amendment.”

Well intentioned, but amateurish, the proposal to make Congress abide by whatever they demand of the people has been bouncing around the Internet for months. It asks you to send it along to twenty friends. I have received it several times.

Another political chain letter is called the “Congressional Reform Act of 2010.” I have received that one several times as well.

Here’s the text:
1. Term Limits.

12 years only, one of the possible options below..

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/11.

I can’t say that I disagree with what the folks are trying to accomplish. Congress is about as popular these days as the Internal Revenue Service. Maybe less.

But I am amused that so many smart, well meaning Americans seriously believe that they can convince the United States Congress to reform itself.

Even if they could miraculously persuade a majority of both Houses and the President to adopt such a plan, the term limits would be immediately attacked as unconstitutional, since the Constitution establishes the qualifications for election to Congress.

And, anyway, an act of Congress can be repealed by Congress. So what protection would we have for the future?

I’m sorry, but the “Congressional Reform Act” is not the answer.

The answer is to amend the United States Constitution as Washington and Madison and Jefferson intended.

And to do that, we need an Article V Convention. Article V provides for a convention of the people of the states to propose amendments. The Founders put it in our Constitution because they knew that there would be a need for amendments that would never be approved by Congress.

Like term limits. Like salary restrictions. Like imposing any kind of reform that checks the abuses of Members of Congress.

Getting a convention called is a huge undertaking. It requires the active concurrence of two thirds of the state legislatures. And that isn’t going to happen without a groundswell of popular demand.

One avenue to generate that groundswell is Convention USA, an interactive virtual Article V convention on the Internet.

It’s a place where the discontented, the disillusioned, and the disappointed can come together and actually DO SOMETHING instead of just shaking their fists at the sky.

More importantly, it is a place where serious men and women, who have studied the constitution and given thoughtful consideration to needed amendments can work together to formulate wise amendments. Amendments that can command the necessary popular consensus to become part of our fundamental law.

The last time I wrote something about the “Congressional Reform Act of 2010” was back in May. I suggested a better way to deal with Congressional greed. I stand by it.

See: http://oldjudge.blogspot.com/2010/05/fixing-congress.html

I sure would like to talk to whomever concocted the “Congressional Reform Act of 2010.”

I think they need some legal advice from the old judge.

1 comment:

  1. Some of those proposals just don't sing. For example, on the issue of health care, the main congressional policy is the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program - which is so similar to the exchanges created in the health care reform act as to be identical. The supplemental congressional health plan is the membership in an employee clinic. Any citizen who is visiting the capital and takes ill would likely be taken there - for free - if it is an emergency. More importantly, any company can do the same thing now - but we certainly don't want to make it mandatory (or maybe we do).

    Cutting on congressional pensions means that members are more likely to do favors for lobbyists while in Congress - so if anything pensions should go up and public campaign finance adopted so that the private sector can't get its hooks into members. Now that is an amendment I could support.

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