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December 28, 2010

The Downsize DC Agenda: Part 1 of our memo to our Congressional sponsors

You had an influence on Congress this year. Did you notice?

The incoming House majority just created a rule requiring a three day waiting period before the House can vote to pass a bill. They’re promoting this new rule as a “Read the Bill” measure. This is their response to our ideas and your pressure. And we think it’s a good step forward, even though it will change absolutely nothing.

* No bills will be read because of it
* No bills will become shorter or clearer because of it

Instead, this so-called “Read the Bill” rule will be positive because it will demonstrate very clearly why Congress needs to pass THE LAW that we have crafted to achieve these reforms — the one-and-only DownsizeDC.org, “Read the Bills Act.”

Fortunately, there are two members of the House, and one Senator, who will soon introduce RTBA, as well as our One Subject at a Time Act, and our Write the Laws Act. We have drafted a memo to explain all of this legislation to our Congressional sponsors. We’re going to share this memo with you this week. It will come to you in the following parts . . .

* Part 1: Introduction and enforcement (see below)
* Part 2: The “Read the Bills Act”
* Part 3: The “One Subject at a Time Act”
* Part 4: The “Write the Laws Act”

If you want to see what we’re saying to our Congressional sponsors, we hope you’ll read the Dispatches we’ll be sending you this week, starting with Part 1 below . . .

Dear (member of Congress),

This memo explains the following three DownsizeDC.org bills . .

1.The Read the Bills Act (RTBA)
2.The One Subject at a Time Act (OSTA)
3.The Write the Laws Act (WTLA)

Congratulations. You’re a leader, ahead of the curve. The bills presented here are transpartisan and populist in nature. That is, they cross party lines and they win supporters. The sponsor of these bills should expect, over time, to be well-rewarded with support, for so doing.

Please take note: These bills create laws, not mere rules.

The evidence is overwhelming that Congress doesn’t obey rules. Enforceable laws are needed instead. This problem of enforcement is also why our bills allow no exceptions for “emergencies.”

“Emergency” has become an accounting term, on Capitol Hill – a way to work outside the constraints of current budget law.

Example: The Iraq war has been funded, every single year, from the emergency budget. And the emergency supplemental bill has been noted for its profligate pork-barrel spending and earmarks.

Everyone on Capitol Hill understands the purpose of the budget law. The leadership knows they’re violating the spirit of it by passing the emergency supplemental. They do it anyway. It is Congress that needs to be regulated. And to do that, we need a firm law.

In addition, Congressional rules can’t be enforced by the courts. Properly written laws can be. RTBA, OSTA, and WTLA all contain the same enforcement mechanism . . .

 * Any law enacted in violation of any provision of RTBA, OSTA, or WTLA can be considered invalid in a court of law. How?
 * All citizens will have standing in court to defend themselves by presenting evidence that the law they’re accused of violating was passed in violations of these laws.  

No mere rule can be enforced in this way. Only a law can give citizens this kind of protection.

END of Part 1. Tune-in tomorrow for Part 2 to see how we explain the details of the “Read the Bills Act” to our Congressional sponsors.

There are only 5 days remaining in 2010. Please consider making a year-end contribution, or starting a monthly pledge to support our work in 2011.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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