However, for those who are looking for more information, read on. This fifth part will cover the section titled “Congressional Reform.” You can find it HERE. I recommend reading it, because I will refer to it regularly throughout this post.
As many of you know, I have been one who follows the happenings in DC with great interest. I have blogged on much of it; ranted on about some of it; and generally made my opinions known. Perhaps this section will explain better why I have responded to certain things in the way I have.
"With the advent of the 17th amendment, a vital check on Congress was removed. Since then, Congress has usurped power relatively unchecked, where today, very few members of Congress make it through a single session, without violating their oath of office to the Constitution." So this section begins, and so too will I.
In case you are unfamiliar with the 17th Amendment, allow me to recap. This is the amendment which made the election of the U.S. Senator a popular vote, rather than one by state legislators. It is also the one that dictated that the filling of a vacated Senate seat would fall to the Governor of that state, and that his appointee would remain until elections. You can read the text of the amendment HERE.
In defense of those who enacted the 17th, let me just say they were attempting to go about doing a good thing. They wanted to prevent Senate seats from being bought and sold, and prevent deadlocks with state legislators bickering over who ought to go. I applaud them for their foresight. Unfortunately, the cure was more damaging than the sickness.
You see, in more than a century of elections, there had only been ten allegations of corrupted elections. Ten- you can do the math yourself to find out the percentage! Aside from that, while deadlocks did occur, they were rare... And mainly happened within newly admitted states. According to Todd Zywicki, Utah deadlocked only twice, (1897, 1899)- And never once deadlocked again. Nevertheless, as times changed, it was apparently believed that deadlocks and corruption would quickly overtake the current method of doing things; So, William Jennings Bryan, among others, saw to the inception and passing of the seventeenth amendment.
The problem is that now there is far more corruption than there ever was at that time. To make matters worse, while then there was only a few allegations, today we have legal cases closed on the matter of political corruption; newspapers are making a living off of the stories of political corruption; and all over, people are paying dearly for the mistakes made by legislators on May 31, 1913. There are very few things today which cannot be traced back to the passing of the 17th.
Before popular election, US Senators were elected by the majority of state legislators. This prevented such things as special interest groups, lobbyists, etc., from being the only ones the Senators looked to for direction. Make no mistake- When it is not an election year in this day and age, post-17th, very few Senators are truly worried about their constituents. Pre-17th, however, Senators were forced to listen to the desires of the people they represented- Or they'd not be reelected.
We seek to abolish Congressional pensions.Yes, I understand that it is a sacrifice to serve in congressional or senatorial capacity. Yes, I understand that it would be a far greater sacrifice should pensions be done away with. And yes- I am completely all right with that, even if I were serving.
The concept of service is exactly that: SERVICE. One is not to go to D.C., become a member of the millionaires club, and return seeking reelection; yet that is exactly what is happening time and time again. Pensions are only a portion of the issue. The fact that Congress has a separate healthcare network, for instance, among many other things, points to exactly how cut off the U.S. Congress is from the citizenry of the nation. Remove one of the ways dishonest people can get rich off of their dishonesty, and perhaps we will see stock in truth rise.
Congress must once again be accountable to the people and obedient to the Constitution, repealing all laws that delegate legislative powers to regulatory agencies, bureaucracies, private organizations, the Federal Reserve Board, international agencies, the President, and the judiciary.I understand the reasons certain boards and agencies were formed: The EPA and NEA, for instance. However, the reasons do not make the choice made the right one. Reasons are merely thoughts upon a subject which one is to take into consideration; instead, our legislators have parlayed their "reasons" into justifications and excuses. One of the most ironic statements I've ever heard came from a Massachusetts Senator who shall remain nameless. To paraphrase, he stated that there was simply "too much for the Federal Government to handle alone."
Folks, that is exactly the point- There is too much, because the Fed was never supposed to have this much power.
We support legislation to prohibit the attachment of unrelated riders to bills. Any amendments must fit within the scope and object of the original bill.I cannot tell you how much I agree with this portion. Riders have become the bane of our national existence, and one of the "greatest achievements" in Obama's presidency exemplifies this to the nth degree: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare." The final version of this bill was nearly 1,000 pages long- At one time, it was over 1,500 pages. Of the final page count, a solid third was rider material.
Another example was the Omnibus Appropriations Act 2009, with over $8 million dollars of earmarks, and signed into law by our President without batting an eye.
Or perhaps you remember the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act? If you don't, you shouldn't feel bad. Then Senator Joseph Biden attached it as a rider to the bill that created the AMBER alert system- It was drawing too much heat on its own.
Then, there is the REAL ID Act. That was attached to a military budget and necessarily signed into law by President Bush- I say "necessarily," because Congress had taken longer than it should have to approve the budget. Vetoing the budget would have lost some rather necessary funds.
Heard of the Lautenberg Amendment? It was a rider that banned the sales of guns to anyone with even a single misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. I'm all for promoting safety, but this rider, which is now law, provides for an invasion of privacy which can be compared only to the Patriot Act.
These examples, among many, serve as more than enough evidence for the secession of unrelated riders, if not the restriction of all forms.
We support legislation to require that the Congressional Record contain an accurate record of proceedings.Let's be honest: How transparent is a government that doesn't keep complete records, let alone make them public?! Right now, Congress is not required to keep records of everything said during sessions. Why? With certain considerations, everything ought to be public record, and accurate to the letter.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Constitutionalist Commentary: Part 6, Conscription. Oh, yeah- You can only imagine!