January 4, 2010
How your Congress spent billions, blindfolded
By James Wilson

In the waning hours of 2009 Congress rushed to bundle unrelated bills that they then passed with little consideration or debate. They were so busy with the cancerous healthcare bill that they couldn't be bothered to behave responsibly.'s "One Subject at a Time Act" would have prevented this.

Please send your representatives a letter asking them to introduce and pass our "One Subject At A Time Act."

You can copy or borrow from my letter . . .

Congress's irresponsible behavior in the closing days of 2009 is a perfect example of why we need the One Subject at a Time Act. The obsession with passing a healthcare bill by Christmas was pointless and counterproductive, because . . .
* reconciling the Senate bill with the House bill and getting it signed into law wasn't going to happen until 2010 anyway
* other items were more urgent, because the federal government still needed to be funded for 2010 and several laws and programs were facing expiration dates

The obsession with healthcare caused Congress to neglect other bills until the last minute. This means you guys didn't give these bills the time and consideration they deserved. Instead, Congressional leaders combined unrelated bills together and then hastily passed them. An example of this is the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 3326), which included theoretically "urgent" non-Defense items such as:

* Additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
* Extension of Patriot Act expiration dates to February 28
* Extension of unemployment and COBRA health insurance benefits

It also included non-urgent items such as:

* Compensation to Swain County, NC for the federal government's broken promise to re-build a road it had destroyed
* An Apology to the Native American Peoples

None of the above provisions were in the House version of H.R. 3326 that passed in July, and none except the Apology was included in the Senate version that passed in October. These additional provisions were included very late in the process.

Each deserved to have been considered and debated as a separate bill. You guys essentially passed all of this stuff blindfolded, without having much of a clue about what you were doing.

But Congress didn't have the time to consider them separately, because it was so focused on healthcare.

Dozens of times a year, Congress wastes time passing unimportant bills that do things like naming some obscure post office after a deceased person. And then, because you don't use time wisely, you combine unrelated but expensive and important bills - such as Defense spending and COBRA insurance - into one bill, with little time for debate or deliberation.

This is insulting to me as a citizen, and makes a mockery of the whole idea of representative government.

The One Subject At A Time Act would have . . .

* delayed consideration of the healthcare bill, so that it wouldn't have been rushed;
* given more urgent bills due consideration
* prevented the bundling of unrelated bills into one monstrous package

Republican opponents of this process should introduce OSTA. And Democrats, if they want to keep their jobs, should redeem themselves and sponsor OSTA as well.


You can send your letter to Congress using's Educate the Powerful System:

Please also make a contribution to further our work:

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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