Do you ever wonder why Washington spends so much money? Well, there are lots of reasons, most notably power acquisition, cronyism, favoritism, nepotism, etc., but much has to do with the very process of legislation. Nothing is voted on in isolation. Bills are packed with numerous unrelated amendments which receive little or no attention. The legislators cannot possible be reading all of the bills in there various iterations in a careful and deliberate manor. It is just not possible. The titles of the bills often have no bearing on its content and the text of the bills is just a recitation of strikes and insertions into numerous other laws. There is no way to actually read a straight forward version of the final text to understand exactly what it all means.
Take for example the hotly debated Obama tax deal to extend the Bush era tax rates. H.R. 4853 is an $858 billion measure. It started out titled the Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010, later renamed the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010 and now referred to as the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010. Reading through the bill, it is impossible to fully understand all of the potential ramifications, even if you read all of the referring legislation.
The next major bill is Continuing Resolution H.R. 3082. H.R. 3082 began life as the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropirations Act, 2010, now on its 6th version titled Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. What is H.R. 3082? It is a bill to continue funding the government for the next year. Since the Democrats have been in power they have failed to propose or pass a federal budget which is required under the Constitution. They have run the federal government under continuing resolutions so they can avoid debate on how the taxpayers’ money is spent. H.R. 3082 is a $1.1 trillion spending bill, approximately $30,000 per family, spanning 2000 pages of pork laden earmarks. The details of the bill are a disgrace. H.R. 3082 was passed by the House on 12/9/2010 by the Democrats without a single Republican vote. It is now headed for the Senate. The Democrats are eager to get this passed before the new Congress is seated in January. Let’s hope the Republicans in the Senate can stall this off till after the new Congress is sworn in.
What is the solution? I propose the Legislation Simplification Act of 2011. All legislation will address only one item. All bills should have a simple title which clearly expresses the subject matter and intent. All bills should be written so that an eighth grader can understand it (remember we are dealing with Congress). No bill can change prior legislation without including the full text of the prior law. All legislators should be given a minimum of one business day per page of legislation to read and research the bill prior to voting. That should slow the spending to a crawl.