Sunday, February 17, 2019

A simple solution to solve legislative gridlock

Remove some of the powers that nationally unelected political party leaders now have

John Droz, Jr.

Which citizens voted to give Nancy Pelosi the power to shut down our government? None. And yet there she is, able to close down numerous government services, with just the power of her intransigence.

We need to look at a simplified legislative example to understand the problem and the solution. To properly grasp this situation, it’s important to understand that essentially all legislation originates from specialized legislative committees.

Let’s say that Republicans introduce a bill (H.R. 54321) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Let’s also say that Democrat Representative Jones decides that supporting 54321would be in the best interest of his constituents and the country as a whole.

The fly in the ointment here is that in this case the House Democrat Leader has decided that Democrats should oppose 54321. Now Representative Jones is in a bind.

If he chooses to vote for 54321, the House Democrat Leader could ensure that he suffers severe political penalties. (If Speaker Pelosi has enough votes anyway and Mr. Jones will be in a tough reelection fight next year, she may cut him some slack and let him “vote his conscience” – and her long-term political best interests.)

What potential penalties could Rep Jones suffer if he goes against the wishes of the Speaker? He could be stripped of any committee leadership positions he has, or lose his seniority on a committee. He could be bumped from a committee membership that he values. Any bills he introduces could go nowhere.

So his choice is: a) do what is in the best interest of his constituents and the country regarding 54321; or b) do what is in his own best political interests (and that of Ms. Pelosi). Unfortunately, the current system we have assures that “b” will almost always be the choice made.

In a nutshell, this is why there is gridlock – because legislators often vote in lockstep as a political party block, rather than what is in the best interest of their constituents and country!

The concern here is that not a single citizen voted for anyone to be the House Democrat Leader (or Republican Leader, as all of this applies to both parties, and in the Senate). As such, why does this nationally un-elected person have the power to control the destiny of our entire country?

The easy solution to fix this undemocratic and unreasonable situation is to remove some of the power these nationally unelected political party leaders have. Here are two simple examples that would have a profoundly beneficial impact:

1) remove their power to appoint legislators to committees, and

2) remove their power to appoint chairpersons to committees.

Once those unwarranted powers were removed, these party leaders would have a much smaller cudgel to browbeat their party members into lockstep submission. Instead, legislators would be much more inclined to vote for what was best for their constituents and the country. Democrat Representative Jones could support Republican bill 54321without fear of major political reprisals from his party leadership.

Isn’t that more like the way the legislature should work in a truly democratic republic?

The details of how committees would be assigned could be worked out to be fair and non-political. For example, the majority party would still have the majority of members on committees. Let’s say that there are nine Democrat committee positions on a certain House committee. Any Democrat representatives who are interested would submit their names – and the nine members would be determined by a lottery (NOT the whims of the House Democrat Leader).

To keep everyone from submitting his or her name to every committee, each representative would be limited to volunteering for a set number of committees (perhaps six). To award longer term members for their extended service, any representatives with more than two terms could have their names entered twice in the lottery for each committees they were interested in.

Once House or Senate committee members are chosen, it will be up to the majority committee members (NOT the party Leader) to elect a chairperson from their party group.

By the way, there would still be a House (and Senate) party Leader. Their jobs would be to be: a) a spokesperson regarding their party’s official position on various matters; b) an educator of their caucus members as to the pros and cons of any legislative matter; and c) a negotiator with the Executive Branch.

In addition to extracting their committee power, item “b” is a key difference, for it changes party leaders from being dictators to being educators. That would be a major improvement over the current system – and would unquestionably lead to less political gridlock.

That, in turn, would be an extraordinary improvement, helping to ensure that legislators act more responsibly — as well as in the interest of their constituents and the country.

After this major problem is resolved, some of the other powers of theses party leaders should also be examined and possibly changed: such as the power to keep bills from being voted on.

One final point is worth noting.

None of this was as important in the not-so-distant past – 75, 50 perhaps even 25 years ago. Back then, legislators and legislative sessions were not full-time, 365-days-a-year affairs. Legislators actually had real jobs during much of the year. They did not believe they weren’t doing their job if they weren’t enacting more laws – which didn’t as often mean writing broad, often ambiguous legislation, and then turning that legislation over to regulatory agency bureaucrats to interpret, implement and enforce.

They did not seek to control more and more aspects of our lives – culminating in legislation that would put federal bureaucrats in charge of our energy, economy, buildings, jobs and living standards.

And not very many years ago, our political parties were not controlled – or at least constantly pressured into submission and obedience – by noisy members of Congress and tax-exempt activist groups that are determined to radically, fundamentally and completely transform the United States into a country governed not by We the People but by a small cadre of legislators, regulators and judges.

But that is what we face today. That is why reforms like these are essential.

Via email from Paul Driessen


Trump Signs Funding Bill, Declares Emergency to Secure Border

The bill falls far short of the border spending Trump demanded, so he will now carry out his threat

In a Rose Garden ceremony this morning, President Donald Trump signed an omnibus spending deal that includes $1.35 billion for the construction of a border barrier. He also said he’s signed the order declaring a national emergency to tap into as much as another $8 billion in funding for the border barrier. This announcement set off Democrats and some Republicans in voicing their objections.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) warned, “A Democratic president can declare emergencies, as well. So the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.” Pelosi then pointed to one of the Democrats long-running hobby horses and said, “Let’s talk about … the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that emergency, Mr. President? … But a Democratic president can do that.” Except we have a little thing called the Second Amendment…

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voiced constitutional concerns over Trump’s decision, stating, “We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution. Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact tactic to impose the Green New Deal.” But Rubio did note that he would await further details of Trump’s emergency declaration before determining whether he’d support it.

Regarding the subject of national emergencies, it’s important to note that the National Emergencies Act of 1976 was passed primarily as a means of keeping better track of the emergency powers granted to the president and determining which declarations were still in effect. Essentially, the authority to declare a national emergency grants the president special temporary power to deal with a crisis directly related to foreign threats that arise against American interests both domestic and abroad. There are currently 31 active national emergencies, the oldest being Jimmy Carter’s sanctions against the Iranian government.

In declaring a national emergency, Trump can point back to his repeated calls to Congress to act on the growing illegal-immigration crisis that has contributed to the drug-related deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and the murders of many others, costs American taxpayers billions annually in welfare services provided to illegal aliens, and hurts American workers by flooding the labor force with low-skilled illegal workers. Trump has worked to paint Democrats into a corner on this issue, demonstrating that they have no desire to protect American citizens first and foremost, which is their constitutional duty.

Recall that Democrats didn’t voice any objections when Barack Obama overreached his executive authority some 76 times, as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) notes, and yet when Trump seeks to use his rightful executive authority to enforce the nation’s laws, Democrats (and a few Republicans) squeal about constitutional overreach.

While we would certainly have preferred to see Congress act to provide the full funding for the construction of a more secure border barrier and increased border security, Trump’s emergency declaration is well within his constitutional authority. However, there is no question that this battle will soon move to the courts.



MAGA: Quality of Life and Optimism Soaring to New Heights

Trump called the U.S. economy "the envy of the world." A lot more Americans are agreeing.

In his State of the Union Address last week, President Donald trump heralded the “thriving” U.S. economy, which he called “the envy of the world.” Some have called the president’s characterization of the economy hyperbole, but there’s a plethora of evidence proving he’s right: The economy is changing Americans’ quality of life and stimulating confidence.

The IBD/TIPP Quality of Life Index is one metric that backs the president. The index has been tabulated for 17 years now, and it “asks the public whether they think their quality of life will be better, worse or the same over the next six months,” as explained by Investor’s Business Daily. The full-span average is 56.2. By that measure, Barack Obama’s 53.7 rating was subpar. But the index balloons to 59.3 halfway through Trump’s first term. The most interesting variable is independents. According to IBD, “Their quality of life averaged 52 under Obama. It’s averaging 58.8 under Trump.”

This segues nicely into Gallup polling regarding Americans’ confidence. Gallup reports that “Americans’ optimism about their personal finances has climbed to levels not seen in more than 16 years, with 69% now saying they expect to be financially better off ‘at this time next year.’” This percentage is bested only by the 71% registered in March 1998. Moreover, “Fifty percent say they are better off today than they were a year ago.”

Clearly, the Trump economy isn’t limp like it was under Obama. And that’s due to a combination of heavy deregulation, impressive job creation, and tax reform. Amazingly, Democrats are trying to spin all of these — but especially tax reform — as detrimental. Presidential candidate Kamala Harris even asserted, “The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year. Let’s call the President’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1%.”

Fortunately, most Americans are rejecting this snake oil because they understand more take-home pay as a result of less tax withholding means a lesser refund come tax filing. And their quality of life and optimism are the better for it.



Hey, Democrats, I've lived in a socialist country with income 'equality' and it was miserable

Maria Elvira Salazar, daughter of Cuban political refugees, warns Democrats 'drank the Kool Aid' on socialism. Former Republican House candidate Maria Elvira Salazar says Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have no idea what they are advocating for.

The Democratic Party’s lurch to socialism led to a presidential rebuke at the State of the Union on Tuesday night. From Sen. Bernie Sanders’s call for “Medicare-for-all,” to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal of a “Green New Deal,” to Democratic presidential hopefuls’ hankering for stiff tax hikes, prominent members of the Democratic Party seem unwilling to miss any opportunity to advocate for greater government control of the economy.

Yet as Democrats justify grandiose proposals by decrying income inequality, many of us who immigrated to the United States from socialist countries see great irony. After all, unending income equality is what drove us to leave our native lands in the first place.

My family left post-Mao Communist China in the mid-1980s precisely because there was so much equality to go around. As a child, I lived in Guangzhou, the third largest city in China. Everyone in my city was equal in having no running hot water, no modern toilet facilities, no refrigerator, no washer, no dryer, and no color television.

Imagine a world without Whole Foods, Safeway and Walmart, or the plethora of products stocked on their shelves. Imagine no Vitamin Water, no Gatorade, no Starbucks, no Panera Bread, no candy bars and no sea salt potato chips. Now imagine instead being allotted food stamps from the government, indicating how much your family can eat.

There was abundant equality in the dearth of economic opportunities as well. The state told us where to live, where to work, what to buy, and for how much. Worse yet, my fellow citizens who lived in the countryside were even more impoverished.

When the state runs the economy and its citizens’ lives, there will be plenty of equality in scarcity, poverty and hopelessness.

After decades of totalitarian rule and grand socialist experiments, China had a meager per capita GDP of less than $200 in 1980. By comparison, America’s was $12,500 that year.

Around that time, China decided enough misery was enough. It embarked on historic economic reforms and opened up the country to the world. Liberalization introduced market prices, allowed for the return to household farming from collectivization, created Special Economic Zones in coastal areas that attracted foreign investment and promoted exports, exposed state-owned factory production to profit incentives, and opened up the market to private firms and entities.

As China began to dismantle bits and pieces of its command economy, Chinese citizens came face to face with the liberating effects of what the market made possible. There were many firsts.

For the first time, we could buy goods on the open market rather than using food stamps. For the first time, we could open up businesses instead of being confined to lifetime, government-assigned employment.

For the first time, we could have possessions that we had not seen before – clothing that was not gray and drab, electronics that exposed us to brand new images and music, goods that we coveted without even knowing it.

In the end, even Communist China did not want the kind of economic equality that existed during my childhood. Hence, the country opened up its economy, implemented bold reforms, and adopted capitalism, even though it retained many communist characteristics.

Over the past 40 years, China became the second largest economy in the world.

However, don’t for a minute forget the lesson that still applies: When the state runs the economy and its citizens’ lives, there will be plenty of equality in scarcity, poverty and hopelessness.

Today, this is a lesson that prominent Democrats seem eager to forget. Less than 30 years after the former Soviet Union collapsed and the United States emerged victorious from the Cold War, Americans increasingly find it necessary to debate the shortcomings and evils of socialism all over again.

It was left up to President Trump to declare on Tuesday night: “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

It is crazy that the leader of the free world had to state this. It is crazier still that he will have to deliver an even more robust defense of democratic capitalism in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Hopefully, the Democrats’ vision of economic equality will not prevail.



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1 comment:

ScienceABC123 said...

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” - Winston Churchill