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by Peter F. Hamilton



Tuesday, 4 August, 2009

Some members of Congress have pooh-poohed the notion that they should actually READ the bills that they vote on. (Via Hot Air.com - the link also provides some great video of my buddy Arlen Specter getting loudly booed in Philadelphia this weekend for stating that they don't have time to read stuff because they have to "move fast".)

Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes (NH-02) believes reading every bill in Congress “would slow down the business of Congress to a crawl and it would be hard to get done what needs to be done.”

Members of Congress who don’t read the bills they are voting on “is not necessarily the major problem with the way Congress functions,” he said.

Hodes, who is the sole Democratic candidate in the race to replace the retiring New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, made the remarks during a recent editorial board meeting with the Nashua Telegraph.

“Hodes said it’s not realistic to expect members of Congress to read every bill word-for-word, as Congress took more than 2,000 votes in the session that ended in December,” the paper reports.

This year, Hodes voted in support of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package and for so-called cap-and-trade legislation. Both measures were finalized late in the legislative process and rushed to a vote before any individual member could read the bills.

If I have the chance to ask a question of a member of Congress who tells me that he/she does not have time to read a bill before they vote on it, my question will be:

Do you have a mortgage? Did you read the mortgage before you signed it, or did you just take the word of the realtor that it was "OK"? A mortgage is usually the largest purchase that a person or couple will make and is not taken lightly since it involves large sums of money. As a member of Congress, you are making decisions about large sums of MY MONEY that will impact how I and my family live going forward. Why is your mortgage more important than mine?

At some point I heard the story that the rock band Van Halen had a clause in all of their concert appearance contracts that required bowls of M&Ms be available in their dressing rooms - with all the brown ones removed. I learned today that the "no brown M&Ms" clause was indeed true, although the motivation for it was not widely publicized.

According to Hot Air.com, the brown M&Ms were kind of the canary in the mine, so to speak. Lead singer David Lee Roth explained in his autobiography:

The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say "Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . ." This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: "There will be no brown M&M's in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation."

So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl . . . well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you're going to arrive at a technical error. They didn't read the contract. Guaranteed you'd run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

Ed Morrisey at Hot Air says that perhaps we should try something like that with Congress. I'm thinking a "kill clause" that will negate their vote if they don't actually read the bill. Or better, negate their vote AND give them a paycut!


Quote du jour:

"HURRY, n. The dispatch of bunglers."

Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914) US journalist, short-story writer
"The Devil's Dictionary, 1911."

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