No, It Isn’t

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), posting on Twitter:

“11 hours to review a 1000+ page spending bill that spends nearly a trillion dollars? This is not Congress’ finest hour.”

Looks like Obama will also again be breaking his pledge to post every bill on the web for the public to review for five days before signing it. And this on the biggest and (by his measure) most important bill he’s likely to sign in his presidency.

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36 Responses to “No, It Isn’t”

  1. #1 |  Dave Krueger | 

    “Looks like Obama will also again be breaking his pledge to post every bill on the web for the public to review for five days before signing it. And this on the biggest and (by his measure) most important bill he’s likely to sign in his presidency.”

    I don’t think it will be the most important. Hell, it’s only about half as important as the $2 trillion emergeny rescue plan that’s probably coming a little later on.

  2. #2 |  Gregory | 

    Isn’t this the same BS we went through regarding the PATRIOT Act? Its a travesty how our nation’s politicians react to disasters.

  3. #3 |  The_Chef | 

    Oh look … there goes transparency … right out the window.

    Oh geez, now it’s falling 40 stories to its death.

    *splat*

    Well that was short lived.

  4. #4 |  Chris in AL | 

    Maybe it would be easier just to count the number of times we DID get 5 days to review the bill. Perhaps an actual counter or bar graph is in order

  5. #5 |  Ken’s Weblog » Not a change for the better | 

    […] « Previous Entry Not a change for the better 13 Feb 2009 Posted by Ken Hagler No, It Isn’t. […]

  6. #6 |  Mike T | 

    It’s patently obvious that there are two major differences between Obama and McCain now: McCain never promised most of the things Obama is reneging on, and McCain would probably be at managing subordinates due to his experience as a military officer.

  7. #7 |  Lee | 

    I seriously doubt this will be the biggest bill he’ll sign during his first 4 years.

  8. #8 |  CHRISC | 

    2 simple words – “Term Limits”. Oops, make that 3, “Term Limits, NOW!!!”

  9. #9 |  David | 

    Amendment XXVIII.

    No member of congress shall be allowed to vote in favor of a bill without first having passed a test on the bill’s contents.

  10. #10 |  ChrisD | 

    Sounds like we’ve got a bunch of racists on here! /kidding :)

    Seriously, how much money do we need to be spending to get a thorough review of legislation? How many generations of citizens will be paying taxes on one law to warrant reading it in detail?

  11. #11 |  David | 

    Transparency is far from being lost.

    The following have been up for more than 5 days:
    http://www.recovery.com/documents/Senate_Amendment570_HR1_020709.html

    This has been online for more:
    http://www.recovery.com/documents/House_American_Recovery_Act_HR1_012909.html

    recovery.org will itemize where the money goes.

    To reduce this Adminstration’s haste to the previous administration’s dishonestly isn’t exactly qualified.

  12. #12 |  qwints | 

    While I agree with David that transparency has been improved, the parallel to the hasty passing of the PATRIOT act is all too obvious.

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #11 David

    Transparency is far from being lost.

    The following have been up for more than 5 days:
    http://www.recovery.com/documents/Senate_Amendment570_HR1_020709.html

    This has been online for more:
    http://www.recovery.com/documents/House_American_Recovery_Act_HR1_012909.html

    recovery.org will itemize where the money goes.

    The two links above are blocked where I work. They block a lot of stuff directed at grownups. The site recovery.gov isn’t blocked, though. Maybe it doesn’t qualify.

  14. #14 |  Will | 

    No worse than the patriotic act.

  15. #15 |  Matthew | 

    I don’t believe that an outdated version of a bill qualifies. That’s the sort of “I did not have sex with that woman” technicality that shows me that, if that’s what Obama really meant, he’s not much different than what we’ve had before. Those links do not show us what’s being voted on currently.

  16. #16 |  Tim C | 

    #2 Gregory, right, exactly, looks like Barack Obamadama (I coined this today, think Roseanne Rosannadanna) learned the “if we don’t DO SOMETHING it will be a TOTAL CATASTROPHE” method employed by his predecessor rather quickly and well….

  17. #17 |  solarjetman | 

    Ultimately such a promise was a naive one, and doomed to be broken. The president does not and cannot control the legislative process, and cannot prevent Congressmen from continuing to rewrite and negotiate a bill right up until the moment it heads to the printer to be voted on.

    I’m not trying to defend Obama here; just direct the contempt towards the promise itself, rather than the failure to deliver. If Obama promises that tomorrow will be a sunny day, we shouldn’t applaud him today and then get angry when it rains tomorrow.

    Torches and pitchforks (metaphorically speaking) might change the fundamental way Congress works, but electing a new president won’t.

    All that said, the fundamental debate behind the stimulus package – between the Keynesian contention that any spending is stimulus and thus all that matters is that the bill be as big as possible, and its detractors – had more than 5 days to percolate through the blogosphere, and as far as I can tell liberals are still liberals and conservatives are still conservatives. I think it’s overly optimistic to think that a 5 day waiting period would have much effect on Congresscritters. Corruption in Congress is like that old saying about information on the internet; it interprets reform as damage and routes around it.

  18. #18 |  Matthew | 

    I think that solar makes some good points. It’s true that a five day waiting period wouldn’t cure the atrocity that is this bill. However, for me, the election period was about being discouraged by how many people (especially here in the Ann Arbor area) bought uncritically and more or less religiously into the collection of promises that Obama made, and about the whole concept of “change we can believe in”. Pie in the sky promises followed by reality are the farthest thing from change, as are massive and unfocused bills that no one really knows the contents of. Business as usual. My contempt is directed toward a blatantly false overall message that Obama sold, and this is one small part of it.

    As they say, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  19. #19 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Look at it this way, Radley. The Obama Administration is going to provide you with a blog post topic EVERY DAY!

    Someone once said that political comedy was the easiest job in the world because all you had to do was report the facts. Politics is strange than fiction. UCMTSU.

  20. #20 |  Chris Farris | 

    I think a lot of people where thinking that Obama would be able to exert some restrain on the Reid/Pelosi/Murtha/Frank cowboyism that was going to happen when the government went from being controlled by one party to being controlled by the other party.

    Either Obama is still settling in (his cabinet appointments haven’t gone off too good), or he is a lot weaker of a leader than most expected, or Rahm isn’t doing his job.

    On the other hand, perhaps Obama is letting the Congressional Dems get this all out of their system (They’ve been out of power since 1995) before he makes them buckle down and behave in a reasonable manner.

    Or its the meet the new boss same as the old boss thing again.

  21. #21 |  Li | 

    I think that we need to start considering that the President is not really the man in charge of our country, and may not have been for some time. How could such behavior travel so consistently from administration to administration, despite the different personalities that flow in and out of there? The Patriot [sic] act is a perfect correlate.

    I have no idea who is holding the marionette wires of our nation, mind you, but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that they are connected with Goldman Sax. No better king than a secret one, for that is one that can never, ever be overthrown.

  22. #22 |  mgordon | 

    Fuck me, it took 30 seconds to find.

    http://appropriations.house.gov/

  23. #23 |  Leonson | 

    Grats, and it was available for all of 10 hours before the vote.

  24. #24 |  Z | 

    The worst thing is not even the bill. It’s the idea that Americans can live infinitely and live well off a credit and consumer based economy where people no longer make things, produce things, create things.

  25. #25 |  mgordon | 

    Jesus Christ, it’s like you guys think (and Flake wants you to think) that this shit was drafted in 5 minutes. It has been there if one would bother to look.

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.1:

  26. #26 |  ChrisD | 

    Finding the legislation is one thing. Reading it is another. Thinking carefully about the worth/likely outcomes of provisions is yet another thing. The idea that someone can make the the pretense of a good decision under this time crunch is ridiculous.

    Esepecially b/c legislators put in the worst pork at the last possible minute precisely to avoid multiple days of press scrutiny.

  27. #27 |  mgordon | 

    Really? do you think the changes were that drastic that one would have to read 1000 pages of legislation to consider the consequences?

    What do you think was proposed? Don’t you think they get a summery of the changes?

    Theatrics plain and simple.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvnwOjDjnH4

    If they haven’t read one page of that by now they should be voted out of office.

  28. #28 |  andyinsdca | 

    Now, seriously, Radley, are you surprised at how Obama and his Dem cronies are acting?

  29. #29 |  ChrisD | 

    If pols made a good faith effort to make things clear and consistent, you wouldn’t have to re-read all 1,000 pages – true. But these are politicians. A single slipped word here or there makes a difference.

    “Don’t you think they get a summary of the changes?”

    Right, and a politicians would never write a misleading summary for their own benefit, right? Omit damning details? No, never, never.

  30. #30 |  Billy | 

    I don’t know much about this guy, and I vote on the other side of the country, but I definitely liked this (wishful thinking, but hey..) part of his campaign:

    http://www.lawsonforcongress.com/issues/good-government/

    Time for Change

    When people ask why I’m running for Congress, I start with a summary of my four primary concerns about our federal government, and Congress in particular:

    1. Most people assume that our elected Representatives and their staff actually read the bills before they vote on them. They don’t.
    2. Many people assume that our lawmakers limit legislation to a single topic at a time. They don’t do that, either.
    3. Most people assume that our elected Representatives actually write legislation. Increasingly, they don’t.
    4. Finally, many people assume that Congress follows rules concerning what our federal government should, and shouldn’t, do. Not any more.

    Our process of government is broken. The current process obscures accountability, serves only special interests, and is a disservice to the American people. I believe it’s time for a new generation of principled leadership, and I want to pass the following four bills to correct the legislative process and return control to the people:

    1. The Read the Bills Act: Congress should read legislation before it votes on it.
    2. The One Subject at a Time Act: Congress should limit legislation to one subject per bill.
    3. The Write the Laws Act: Congress should write laws and be accountable for their results, and not delegate rulemaking authority to unelected bureaucrats and corporate lobbyists.
    4. The Enumerated Powers Act: All legislation must specify the Constitutional authority upon which it is based.

  31. #31 |  Jim Collins | 

    Anybody who thinks that Obama is going to keep the promises that he made during his campaign is a moron. He just said what was necessary to get elected.

  32. #32 |  supercat | 

    Harry Browne, in his campaign for President, promised that he would would not sign any piece of legislation without actually reading the whole thing. Any piece of legislation too large to be read within the Constitutionally-mandated time frame would be automatically vetoed.

    Seems like any good President should adopt such a policy. Why is it so impossible to get people elected who will actually do their (bleep)ing job!?

  33. #33 |  David | 

    Because the public doesn’t want them. They want charisma, affirmations that their beliefs are right and good, condemnations of things they dislike, and promises to fix everything they deem wrong with the world.

  34. #34 |  mgordon | 

    “Right, and a politicians would never write a misleading summary for their own benefit, right? Omit damning details? No, never, never.”

    Right, and in your simple minded world the Dems sit in a dimly lit room drafting legislation that will bring and end to civilization as we know it. Sorry, they made no secret that they wanted to include the repubs in the process. Fuck, Obama was practically begging them for their input. If they didn’t participate in the process then it’s their own fucking fault that they don’t know what changes have been made.

  35. #35 |  Radley Balko | 

    mgordon —

    Go back and watch your Schoolhouse Rock.

    I was during the conference committee sessions to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill that Pelosi and the Dems locked out the Republicans. That’s also when the final version of the bill was marked up, including all sorts of add-ons that weren’t in either the House or Senate versions of the original bill.

    It’s that bill that was then passed on to both houses for a quick vote, where members were given only 11 hours to sift through 1,400 pages to see what had been added, subtracted, or amended.

  36. #36 |  Jon H | 

    Radley,

    This is what staffers are for. Split the bill up among all the GOP Senators, Representatives, and their staffs, and you could make quick work of it.

    You’d think the GOP would jump at the opportunity to do this, to find politically useful material. Why didn’t they?

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