After voting to institute a ban on earmarks, the House GOP Conference is now faced with an overhaul of how Republican members — and, ultimately, the House of Representatives — will do business in the 112th Congress. The conference vote, taking place Wednesday, will show American taxpayers how serious the new majority will be in changing the bias towards bigger government and higher spending.
For their part, House Republican leadership has shown a strong commitment to stemming the growth of government. The recent abolition of earmarks, a subject absent from their Pledge to America, demonstrates that voters have reason to believe the reforms listed therein will serve as the baseline, and not as an exhaustive list, of reforms that will be suggested.
One proposal that is listed in the pledge is a waiting period for legislation, one of the fourteen ways Americans for Tax Reform has suggested the government reduce spending. Republican Leader Boehner has been vocal about changing the way Congress is able to legislate at lightning-fast speed by promoting a 72-hour waiting period for all bills before they can get a vote on the House floor. This idea would ultimately stem government growth wrought at the hands of sly lawmakers by subjecting the monstrous bills they concoct to the light of day.
The savings from simply slowing down the lawmaking process could be huge — nowhere is the warning that “haste makes waste” more evident than in the dealings of the 111th Congress. The “stimulus” bill, with a running price tag of debt and spending closing in at $1 trillion, was whipped through Congress at the speed of light — not a single member voting for the monstrosity could verify they actually read the bill. The inevitable — and perhaps feigned — outrage that followed when members learned they had passed legislation allowing recently bailed-out AIG executives to keep their bonuses was telling in more ways than one.
The healthcare bill and the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House last June also tell similar stories. Behemoths amounting to over a thousand pages each, both bills were laden with sweeteners snuck into the bills to ensure passage. The cap-and-trade legislation wasn’t even cobbled together when a final vote took place, thanks to the late-night airdrop of a manager’s amendment totaling over 300 pages — designed, of course, to cement last-minute Democrat votes.
The healthcare bill fared no different. If taxpayers hadn’t been leery before of the increasing opacity of the 111th, they were made acutely aware of the majority’s allergy to transparency after Speaker Pelosi’s now-famous claim that the bill had to be passed so that Americans could “find out what is in it.”
In each case, taxpayers have been left to foot the bill for laws that become increasingly less popular as Americans learn more about them. The midterm elections, which were a referendum on big government, were fueled by the majority’s aversion to not only listening to the American voters, but also their antipathy towards allowing taxpayers to be involved in their government.
The 72-hour waiting period, then, would do more than just give lawmakers a proper amount of time to read legislation. It would give taxpayers the warranted opportunity to actually investigate the legislative injustices forced upon them by Congress, and raise concerns with their elected officials. More than that, transparency in the legislative process would serve as an antidote to these mammoth bills.