Redundant by Practice, Not by Design

The United States Constitution made Congress one of three branches of the American system of government with specific, enumerated responsibilities.

Recent history in that body has blurred constitutional distinctions and, in some ways, virtually undone the intent of the Founders.

At minimum, elected representatives owe constituents their judgment. It is unacceptable that the only judgment many in Congress have applied to legislation is that they need not read bills before voting on them. This shows very poor judgment, indeed, but it is typical of members who allow and even encourage unknown and unaccountable staff members and lobbyists to write and review legislation and, occasionally, broker their votes.

Congressional Democrats, most of whom voted for the Stimulus Bill, are rattled by the failure of their massive bill to provide jobs. Only those Democrats who didn't read the bill (i.e., all of them) are surprised. 

America has lost millions of jobs since the stimulus was passed,  many of them from the trades they promised would be stimulated by the bill. Instead, the bill rolled back welfare reform as we know it, papered over the failures of progressive governance in states and municipalities and rewarded dozens of Democratic interest groups at the expense of current and future generations of American taxpayers. The Democrats may pay a steep price for their malfeasance in November.

A recent Rasmussen Reports survey revealed that a full three quarters of Americans blame the unwillingness of politicians to reduce government spending for current budget crises. Democrats' default strategy to win votes has always been to spend money to give voters and donors more goodies, but with public criticism of what they've already done, another huge stimulus is a non-starter politically. They know it, but want one anyway.

What's the Democrats' solution? Hoping that no one will notice, they have been enacting a lot of new, smaller spending bills that cumulatively may add as much or more to the federal budget deficit. The payoff, or payback, will come in November, 2010.

Ironically, the same members of Congress who assign their own responsibilities to staffers defend earmarks in pork-laden bills by telling us that members themselves have a better understanding of the "needs" in their districts than do "young, nameless, faceless bureaucrats" in the Executive Branch agencies their appropriations bills are meant to fund.

Members of Congress never tell us how many of those "nameless, faceless bureaucrats" are unneeded now that members are doing their jobs for them. In fact, the rosters of federal agency employees represent the only significant growing employment segment in America.  Nor do members suggest that they, themselves, may be expendable when they delegate their own constitutional responsibilities to subordinates and proxies.

Such double standards, driven by self-interest, laziness and a sense of entitlement, are common among career politicians. These double standards are as present in state capitals as they are in Washington. Because many in state governments aspire to and seek national office, we should not be surprised that promoting them only brings to the nation's capital the same attitudes and habits they developed in their states.

Members of Congress are legislators. They are elected to legislate. It's their only job. If members don't read a bill before voting to make it law, they are not doing the only job they have. If they don't allow the time or have the intelligence to do it properly, they don't deserve their offices.

Members whose senses of importance and entitlement allow them to neglect their responsibilities ultimately delegitimize Congress, cheat their constituents and produce very bad legislation.

Those who think this is the way government is supposed to work in America have no business being in government.

It's been suggested that members of Congress could balance the budget if they sold beer and snacks to the media every time one of them stepped in front of a camera or a microphone to take credit for someone else's work using someone else's money or to spin the awful outcomes of those practices. But most Americans would rather they reduced spending instead.

Jerry Shenk is a retired sales and marketing professional living in Central Pennsylvania. He is co-editor of the Rebuilding America, Federalist Papers 2© website - www.frankryan.org.
The United States Constitution made Congress one of three branches of the American system of government with specific, enumerated responsibilities.

Recent history in that body has blurred constitutional distinctions and, in some ways, virtually undone the intent of the Founders.

At minimum, elected representatives owe constituents their judgment. It is unacceptable that the only judgment many in Congress have applied to legislation is that they need not read bills before voting on them. This shows very poor judgment, indeed, but it is typical of members who allow and even encourage unknown and unaccountable staff members and lobbyists to write and review legislation and, occasionally, broker their votes.

Congressional Democrats, most of whom voted for the Stimulus Bill, are rattled by the failure of their massive bill to provide jobs. Only those Democrats who didn't read the bill (i.e., all of them) are surprised. 

America has lost millions of jobs since the stimulus was passed,  many of them from the trades they promised would be stimulated by the bill. Instead, the bill rolled back welfare reform as we know it, papered over the failures of progressive governance in states and municipalities and rewarded dozens of Democratic interest groups at the expense of current and future generations of American taxpayers. The Democrats may pay a steep price for their malfeasance in November.

A recent Rasmussen Reports survey revealed that a full three quarters of Americans blame the unwillingness of politicians to reduce government spending for current budget crises. Democrats' default strategy to win votes has always been to spend money to give voters and donors more goodies, but with public criticism of what they've already done, another huge stimulus is a non-starter politically. They know it, but want one anyway.

What's the Democrats' solution? Hoping that no one will notice, they have been enacting a lot of new, smaller spending bills that cumulatively may add as much or more to the federal budget deficit. The payoff, or payback, will come in November, 2010.

Ironically, the same members of Congress who assign their own responsibilities to staffers defend earmarks in pork-laden bills by telling us that members themselves have a better understanding of the "needs" in their districts than do "young, nameless, faceless bureaucrats" in the Executive Branch agencies their appropriations bills are meant to fund.

Members of Congress never tell us how many of those "nameless, faceless bureaucrats" are unneeded now that members are doing their jobs for them. In fact, the rosters of federal agency employees represent the only significant growing employment segment in America.  Nor do members suggest that they, themselves, may be expendable when they delegate their own constitutional responsibilities to subordinates and proxies.

Such double standards, driven by self-interest, laziness and a sense of entitlement, are common among career politicians. These double standards are as present in state capitals as they are in Washington. Because many in state governments aspire to and seek national office, we should not be surprised that promoting them only brings to the nation's capital the same attitudes and habits they developed in their states.

Members of Congress are legislators. They are elected to legislate. It's their only job. If members don't read a bill before voting to make it law, they are not doing the only job they have. If they don't allow the time or have the intelligence to do it properly, they don't deserve their offices.

Members whose senses of importance and entitlement allow them to neglect their responsibilities ultimately delegitimize Congress, cheat their constituents and produce very bad legislation.

Those who think this is the way government is supposed to work in America have no business being in government.

It's been suggested that members of Congress could balance the budget if they sold beer and snacks to the media every time one of them stepped in front of a camera or a microphone to take credit for someone else's work using someone else's money or to spin the awful outcomes of those practices. But most Americans would rather they reduced spending instead.

Jerry Shenk is a retired sales and marketing professional living in Central Pennsylvania. He is co-editor of the Rebuilding America, Federalist Papers 2© website - www.frankryan.org.