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September 2, 2008

Procedural Matters

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Quote of the day:
“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats, procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.”
– Thomas Sowell

Subject: Procedural Matters

This message is about procedural matters. Why? Because Procedure matters.

* The budget rules of the House and Senate are such that the federal government is guaranteed to be larger with each passing year.
* The political rules are such that every single crisis results in a hastily passed law, with no regard for Constitutionality or cost.
* The rules of state are such that the politicians and power-brokers DON’T pay a price for their mistakes — neither for passing ineffective or destructive laws, nor for busting the budget. In fact, saying “Yes” to more spending and new laws always benefits them, and saying “No,” can cost them support.

How do we change these rules? You’ve heard it said, “The devil is in the details.” Yes, the devil, because if you try talking about the budget process or the legislative process you’ll divide folks along partisan lines, or worse, bore people to sleep.

How can we unite people to care about procedure? It seems hopeless. And that’s where DownsizeDC.org comes in.

We’ve offered a series of real proposals that actually interest regular Americans.

* One of them is symbolic, but important.
* All, but one, are laws that bind politicians, instead of citizens.
* Most of these proposals reverse perverse political incentives.
* All of them are transpartisan.

And unlike a think-tank that spends tens of thousands of dollars to hold a conference or publish a book that essentially says, “Wouldn’t it be good if thus-and-such was the case?” we give you our “Educate the Powerful System” as a method to turn valid (not theoretical) proposals into reality.

We call these ground-breaking proposals “The Downsize DC Agenda.”

* The Read the Bills Act (RTBA) would require members of Congress to read their bills before voting to pass a law, create a program, or spend your money. A quorum of Congress would have to sit and listen to a word for word, in order reading of the entire bill. And after that reading, Congress would have a seven day waiting period before they could cast their final vote, during which the bill would be posted on the Internet so that members of the press, watchdog groups, or YOU can read it.

RTBA would give Congress an incentive to shorten their bills and would almost certainly reduce the number of bills they pass. It would prevent them from sneaking things into bills and end the practice of last minute surprise votes. And you can help get it introduced by sending a message to your Representative and Senators using our new Educate the Powerful System.

* The Write the Laws Act (WTLA) could’ve been called the Separation of Powers Act. This bill deals with unconstitutional delegation of power. According to the Constitution, Congress should write the laws, not unelected bureaucrats or judges. And of course, Congress should have to read the laws before passing them! Recently, Congressman Ron Paul told me he’d be willing to study and consider WTLA. I know there are fans of his on this list, so please remind him of his commitment. And for the rest of you DC Downsizers, you can help get this bill introduced by sending a message to your Representative and Senators using our free Educate the Powerful System.

* The One Subject at a Time Act (OSTA) would require Congress to pick a clear descriptive title for their bills. Then, everything in the bill must match what’s in the title. Moreover, the contents of the bill are limited to the product of one of the standing oversight committees.

OSTA would’ve prevented Congress from inserting online gambling prohibitions into a Port Security bill. It would’ve stopped Congress from jamming the Real ID Act into a bill for Iraq troop appropriations. You can advance OSTA by sending a message to your Representative and Senators using our new Educate the Powerful System.

* The Enumerated Powers Act (HR 1359) is largely symbolic. But its passage would require Congress to include the Constitutional justification for each piece of legislation right in the bill. This requirement would create a record of shame that might become politically, or even legally useful. Shouldn’t Congress be required to cite the Constitution when they act? If you think so, you can help bring HR 1359 to a vote with a message to your Representative and Senators using our free Educate the Powerful System.

That’s the Downsize DC Agenda. But we have one more procedural bill that we think really matters.

* The Fiscal Responsibility Act (HR 500) would apply consequences on Congress when they deficit spend — they would see their salary cut! Not only would they lose their pay raises, they’d see their pay decline. Instead of drunken sailors, they’d be required to behave more like stock-holding, board members. And if you want to see HR 500 passed, please send a message to your Representative and Senators using our new Educate the Powerful System.

Procedure matters. Incentives matter. And DownsizeDC.org has a real process to begin reform.

The power is in your hands: a few keyboard clicks and a couple mouse clicks. As a DC Downsizer you can, “Educate the Powerful!”

But there’s one more important procedural matter I want to bring your attention.

We want to reach the point where we can overwhelm members of Congress with unrelenting pressure on the airwaves and on the ground. To get there requires financial support from folks who are smart enough to understand the problem and wise enough to see that the Downsize DC Army can indeed become so big that Congress cannot afford to ignore us.

Our monthly budget is modest — just $15,500. And this month, we expect about $8,100 in existing monthly pledge support. On top of that, we have a group challenge pledge of $3,600 for the month of September. Every donation up to a total of $3,600 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by this donor group. Thus, a pledge of ten dollars would bring in ten dollars more this month. And a one-time donation of $100 from you would be instantly worth $200! Please help us secure these funds.

The absolute best way to support us is with a monthly credit card or scheduled electronic check of $3, $5, $8, $10, $15, $25, $35, or more per month. But any contribution can and will make a difference.

Please help ensure that we collect that $3,600 pledge and make budget. Please contribute today.

And remember, you have our permission to trim off the “announcement” at the beginning of this message, the footer at the bottom (so that no one accidentally unsubscribes you from the Downsizer-Dispatch list), as well as the appeal for financial support, so you can distribute this message far and wide — so long as proper attribution is left in place.

Please… Send it to friends. Post it on your blog. Share it with a talk-radio host or power-blogger.

You can also help spread the word by “Digging” this message at our blog. And you can leave a comment there as well.

Thank you for your support. Thank you for being a part of the Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

If your comment is off-topic for this post, please email us at feedback@downsizedc.org

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