January 6, 2006
Update on RTBA sponsorship
By Jim Babka

On December 13th DC Downsizer Judith Woodruff faxed me the following letter:

[Letter no longer available, as of November, 2011.]

This might look like good news. But sadly, there's more to the story...

Receiving this letter put me in a panic. We had been considering changes to RTBA. I felt we needed to make those changes prior to speaking with Congressman Paul. The problem was, we lacked the funds at that very moment to make the changes. We asked DC Downsizers to fund these changes. More than 40 DC Downsizers did just that. The work was done, and I called Congressman Paul’s office as instructed. Sadly...

He repudiated the offer made in the above letter. The letter was issued by his campaign office without his knowledge or approval. Congressman Paul says he does not want to sponsor RTBA.

I was crushed to hear this. And I now feel a need to share the history of all this...

Congressman Paul was my original choice to sponsor this bill. I shared the idea for RTBA with two of his team members at least three months before we announced the project on the Downsizer-Dispatch (roughly November ’04). Each of them liked different aspects of RTBA. I remained in regular contact with one of them as we wrote the legislation. We even used lawyers who have drafted legislation for Congressman Paul in the past – people we knew he trusted.

When we completed the first draft we shared it with Congressman Paul's office. They discussed it and informed us of a problem. The Congressman felt he shouldn't have to read a bill he planned to oppose.

This objection made sense to us. It reminded me of something my father used to say, “I don’t need to play in it to know it’s garbage.” So we amended the bill to solve the problem. RTBA only requires full readings by those who will vote affirmative on a piece of legislation. Call it the Paul Amendment to RTBA.

With Congressman Paul's objection met, we resubmitted the bill to his office. We were told it wasn't the kind of thing the Congressman likes to sponsor. My contact used the word “gimmicky.”

This was disappointing. But we were undaunted. We believed in RTBA. We think it's essential to force Congress to read the laws it passes. We consider it a first step toward slowing and then reversing the growth of government. We decided to have the courage of our convictions and submit RTBA to a market test.

We blast-faxed the bill to all the offices on Capitol Hill. We published RTBA on our website. We asked DC Downsizers to persuade others to support the bill. Public support has grown with each passing day.

In September, I went to Capitol Hill to promote RTBA. Several DC Downsizers joined me. We had eight appointments. Congressman Paul was not one of them. He knows where we stand and we had plenty of other appointments. As far as I'm personally concerned Congressman Paul is by far the best person in Congress, and I don't hold it against him that he doesn't see the value of RTBA. I just hope he changes his mind at some point.

From May till December, more than two dozen DC Downsizers have asked me why Ron Paul isn't sponsoring RTBA. I've never felt it appropriate to put words in his mouth, or even share the information I'm sharing with you today. I've simply told people to ask him directly.

In October, someone did so after a speech the Congressman gave. Several DC Downsizers were in the audience. Congressman Paul's response was confirmed for me by three sources. Congressman Paul called RTBA a “publicity stunt.”

RTBA is not a publicity stunt. It is the first in a series of proposals to Downsize DC. We are deadly serious about RTBA, and I want everyone to know it. So I did two things.

First, I went on Harry Browne’s radio show to seek his formal endorsement of RTBA. I did this because I know Ron Paul respects Harry Browne. They also share many supporters. You can hear Harry's three-minute endorsement of RTBA in the attachment to this post (below).

Second, I called my two main contacts on Congressman Paul's staff. Both responded quickly and graciously. They set my mind at ease. Congressman Paul wasn't insulting RTBA by calling it a “publicity stunt,” he was merely describing his assessment of its purpose. They told me he routinely pursues projects that only serve to “educate the public” aka "publicity stunts." I thanked them for the clarification and moved on with my real purpose, which is to recruit an army large enough to compel passage of RTBA.

It would be really nice to have Congressman Paul leading the charge. But he has his own agenda. He must budget his time according to his priorities. I understand and respect this. Congressman Paul has already stepped to the plate for one of our previous projects. He was the lead plaintiff for our lawsuit against the campaign finance laws (which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court). I am grateful for this.

As for us, we are back to the status quo. RTBA has no sponsor. We will work to change this in 2006. We have exciting plans for doing so. We look forward to sharing them with you. RTBA will be the engine of our growth. Our growth will eventually exert inescapable pressure on Congress, and someday they will pass RTBA to rid themselves of that pressure. But that will only be the beginning.

With RTBA in effect, we will move to other common sense proposals designed to Downsize DC. As we progress, I retain the hope that Congressman Paul will join us. He is a good man.

Filed under RTBA
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