We have had comprehensive legislation on medical care and immigration reform. Comprehensive is “Good.” Reform is “Good.” So let’s do it right!
And, of course, turn about is fair play.
The beauty of comprehensive legislation is that nobody knows what’s in it or what it means until (if ever) long after it passes and gets signed into law. ObamaCare? Few if any of our brilliant (or, for that matter, not-so-brilliant) members of the Congress knew what it would or could mean when they voted for it. Read it? It was far too long and complicated for that, and they had far more important official functions, such as raising campaign funds and getting reelected to continue doing the same things again. Did the President know what it would or could mean when he signed it? How could he? Gracious! That’s a silly question. He is the President and has so many far more important things to do that he, above all others, could not bother.
We are still learning what’s in ObamaCare and what it means. True, there is minor unhappiness but that will pass as we become resigned to the ensuing deprivations and as other multiple distractions require our full attention. Should all else fail, perhaps another royal birth or even another new baby panda can be arranged. We probably won’t dismiss those who passed ObamaCare and signed it into law from their positions. That’s Good, because accountability for
unforeseen unforeseeable difficulties is bad.
Having written recently about the perils of comprehensive legislation, I began wondering whether such legislation could be conducive to the public good if written reasonably. It probably could be, with only minimal effort.
Accountability for incompetence is un-American.
All good people now realize that since all
men humans are created equal, any results they achieve are also equal and therefore good. Consistently(?), we now recognize our flawed natures as mere humans and understand that only experts — properly employed by governmental departments, agencies and commissions — embody all useful human virtues but no harmful human flaws. That’s why there are so many of them and why they have in great measure displaced the Congress. It also explains why legislation must be comprehensive to allow them to do as they decide is best within broadly amorphous parameters.
Questioning whether legislation enabling our betters to do as they decide is generally regarded as perverse. When the time comes, perhaps, to question whether our betters aided or harmed us, the time has passed to hold accountable the authors of the legislation that gave them freedom of action. Often, those honorable members have already gone to their well earned rewards, either below or above ground. If above ground, their rewards are often with the entities their legislation favored. Work well done by our faithful servants warrants praise and other rewards; not adverse accountability. These and other incentives help to promote government service by compensating, in small ways, for the dreadfully low salaries and lack of perks under which they so nobly suffer for us, the little people.
Comprehensive legislation can solve all of our problems, in one swell foop.
Proponents of comprehensive legislation have been far too timid. Comprehensive health legislation and attempts at comprehensive immigration reform were fine as tentative gestures, but more is needed. There is no apparent reason why each house of the Congress should not pass one comprehensive, and hence massive, bill once every year dealing with all of the nation’s perceived problems and solutions. If done correctly, this could increase the power of the Congress at the expense of both the Executive and Judicial branches, an excellent reason for the Congress to do it. The legislation should be labeled — consistently with its comprehensive nature — “Comprehensive Reform to Achieve Fairness and Justice for All and to Eliminate Waste.” Comprehensiveness is Good! Reform is Good! Fairness and Justice are Good! Waste is Bad!
Here’s how it should be done.
1. The legislation must be really comprehensive, by combining one complete Federal budget and all appropriations and defundings with all other provisions. To ensure that this is not got around through Executive Chicanery, it must also require that any attempt to divert funds appropriated for any specified entity to any other entity automatically cancels all funding previously appropriated for the entity from which the Executive Branch transfers them. A reason for doing this should be stated: if an entity needs less funding than appropriated, it is the function of the Congress, not the Executive Branch, to reduce it and send it elsewhere — but not, Zeus and Athena forbid, back to mere taxpayers.
2. It should expressly state that no part is severable from any other. To ensure that the (occasionally rather dense) courts understand, a non-severability clause should be included in every section for emphasis. This is necessary because the Supreme Court has exhibited a recent tendency to re-write legislation. With multiple non-severability clauses, those in the judiciary who don’t like one part would have to reject the whole — thereby not only leaving the judiciary without funds but also leaving the entire nation without the obvious benefits of all congressional enactments for the year. The legislation would be too big to fail.
3. It should repeal all legislation determined to have been bad, including ObamaCare, and declare Presidential Decrees found inconsistent with the enforcement of Federal legislation to be null and void.
4. After each house finishes with its bill, it should go to conference — once the Congress has recessed, leaving very few honorable members for conference committee duties. In the unlikely event that a joint bill should emerge, it should be considered only if truly comprehensive under the outline suggested above. If not, no new laws, no appropriations and no anything else.
These simple provisions might well prevent both Executive and Judicial Obstructionism because the consequences would be too horrid (for them) to condone or even to contemplate.
That’s a brief statement of the concept. Since the honorable members of the Congress — with the help of staff members and lobbyists — know how to cast most anything in acceptable legislative language, they should have no difficulty in doing so for a truly comprehensive piece of legislation — thus ensuring that no one would ever read the product of their labors yet still leaving ample room for pork.
Having passed the test with flying colors in creating ObamaCare, we can be confident that they are well suited to the task.
True, implementation of this modest proposal might well plunge the Federal Government into disarray and inaction, but compared to what? The present grand state of affairs?
There are those who may say, “Only fruitcakes would approve of this.” That seems likely, but then we are all fruitcakes.