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Remember when Barack Obama was running for president in 2008?
He pledged to have the most transparent administration in American history.
He promised bills in Congress would be posted on the Internet for two weeks for the public to read before he would ever sign them.
Then he pushed through the Obamacare legislation, a bill many thousands of pages that was passed exclusively with Democratic support, a bill then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously explained Congress would have to pass before we found out what was in it. Not a single member of Congress had the time to read through the bill before they had the opportunity to vote on it. Certainly, the public did not. In fact, every day we are still learning what’s in it. That’s why provisions of the legislation are being delayed even by the administration that championed it.
Every year, in fact, Congress passes hundreds of bills that are signed by the president – hundreds of bills no member of Congress actually reads.
Do you believe that?
It’s a scandal.
The amnesty bill is the latest example. Do you think even one member of the Senate got to read the whole thing before voting on it? Not a chance.
Think about it this way: Each new law passed represents a restriction of your liberty. Not only do you not get the chance to read those bills before they become law, even members of Congress don’t have the time to do so.
But I do have one new piece of legislation I would like to propose. I think it could be written on one page. And I think it would get universal, bipartisan support from the public.
It would require that all new legislation be posted, with complete text and all amendments, on the Internet for two weeks prior to any vote in the House or Senate.
This wouldn’t be an idle promise. It would be the law. Failure to comply would nullify any legislation.
If Democrats in the Senate won’t do it, it’s a great opportunity for Republicans in the House to demonstrate they are for accountability to the public.
Maybe some in Washington will argue their business is just too pressing to allow this kind of transparency. Let them explain that to voters.
Maybe some in Washington will argue they don’t have the time to read the bills themselves. Let them explain that to voters.
How in the world are the people supposed to obey thousands of laws legislators don’t even have time to read?
It’s a scandal – and one every citizen can comprehend.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s been going on for years. Legislators love to boast about their accomplishments. And some believe if they are not writing laws, they are not accomplishing anything. I’ve got news for you. Sometimes the best public service lawmakers can provide is simply voting no. Rep. Ron Paul proved that throughout his career.
There’s an old saying that’s got a lot of truth in it: The only time your freedom is safe is when Congress is not in session.
It’s time to change that. It’s time to slow Congress down. We don’t need hundreds of new laws every year. It’s time to demand that lawmakers read the bills they have their staffers and lobbyists write for them. It’s time to demand they post them for the public they supposedly serve to read – with ample time for feedback. It’s time to demand that Obama live up to one of his most famous campaign promises – the one he made about openness and transparency.
If they can’t read them, they shouldn’t pass them. It’s just that simple. If they can’t post them for two weeks before voting, they have no business ramming new requirements down the throats of the American people.
Tell me where I’m going wrong.