Chapter 4.	 Congress
			
I.  Congress--Introduction
No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.
— Gideon J. Tucker

America has no indigenous criminal class . . . other than Congress. 
--------Will Rogers 

Suppose I am a crook; suppose I am a congressman; but I repeat myself.
–––Mark Twain

	The loss of public faith in government is even more pronounced for Congress. By 1989, three out of four Americans surveyed indicated that most members of Congress care more about special interests than they did about their citizens.  Voters rank Congressmen’s honesty twenty-fourth in a field of twenty-five occupations, with only car salesmen lower.  Fifty-five percent of a Hudson Institute survey called Congress the most powerful institution  of government and the least effective and least responsive; less than half want it to be that way.  What we have is a great amount of apathy dealing with the fact that the system has become in a sense too large, too cumbersome, totally unresponsive.  Congress does only what it wants to.  The electorate believes Congress is not held accountable for its actions and does not play by the rules its imposes on the rest of America.   In 1993, incumbents were already building their war chests for the 1994 elections, even before arriving after their 1992 victories. Multimillion dollar campaign accounts are not unusual.   Challengers have little chance of victory, unless they are privately wealthy or heavily supported.  Over the previous forty years, the winning rate for incumbents has been over ninety percent.  Incumbents can hardly lose and more and more are running unopposed. Total Congressional staff has grown tenfold in forty years (to over 37,000), over  50 or more staff members per legislator.  The budget of Congress is  two billion dollar.  The legislators cannot begin to be informed about all of the activities on which they now legislate.  They pass laws, but primarily on the advice or staff and lobbyists. Campaign spending on television has climbed fifty-fold in thirty years to over $150 million.  Certainly, this too is part of the system problem that needs to be corrected before the process of rebuilding America can begin.
	Just examine PACs.  In 1974, the average cost of winning campaign for the House was only $56,000; by 1990, that average had increased to $400,000.  In 1974, the average cost of  running for the Senate was $400,00; by 1990, the average was $4 million.  To raise the money required to win a House election means an incumbent member must, on average, identify and pocket over $4,000 each week of his/her term; a Senator three times that much for each and every week of his/her six year term.  In 1990, money raised from special interests accounted for 67% of all funds raised by members of the Senate and 72% of the funds raised by members of the house. How can this system not appear as if the legislator were selling himself to the highest bidder? We will never have a good congress so long as it is accepted by the people that  they take care of their own people first. 
II.  Congress--The Problem
	A tendency towards quick fixes has become the norm.  These short term fixes are being made to avoid long-term decisions and as a result, America has become worse and worse as more and more layers of bandaids have been plastered on the patient.  The aim is to avoid the uncomfortable.  Congress has been working incrementally, addressing the symptoms, not the problems. 
	Congress has become a permanent class.  It has become a career, not what it was intended originally by our founders. Failure in government is not so much failure of performance but failure to secure reelection; pleasing the voters becomes the ultimate performance evaluation.  Without measurement, no idea exists about success or failure of the program; decisions end up being political, which constituency makes the most noise and which have the best connections. The typical Congressmen becomes so wedded to Washington and the power that exists there, that after his retirement (very rarely is he defeated), he will stay on and lobby his former peers, instead of returning to his home district.  Many of the true professions--law, medicine, business, journalism, are considered genuine professions in part because they have codes of professional ethics which are often taught as part of the professional education in their respective graduate schools.  Congress has none and until it can develop workable accountable codes and adhere to him faithfully, it will have none of the respect of the other professions it would dearly love to be equated with. 
	 The question must be discussed who is the Congressperson representing? When a person goes to congress, he/she feels that he/she is representing his district.  Currently, it is in the incentive of Congress not only to help his district by serving his constituency (helping them with their problems with government which is a noble and valuable function) but also to bring home as many goodies from the federal pork platter as he can.  In actuality,   he isn’t representing his district to rape and pillage the federal treasury for them, he is representing the nation;  he is paid by the country, not paid by his constituents.  He is paid out of a federal revenue and his first responsibility should be to the welfare of the nation and the nation as a whole.  
	Term limits were included among the fifteen resolutions of the Virginia Plan submitted to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and actually supported by the majority of the founders.  Term limits, however, were put aside and characterized as “entering too much into detail for general propositions.”   However, a provision limiting tenure was proposed and adopted by Congress as part of the Articles of Confederation on October 14, 1777.  That detail is badly needed today.  Article VIII of the Declaration of Rights in the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, declared that citizens have a right to expect ‘public officials to return to private life . . . in order to prevent those who are vested with authority from becoming oppressors.’ The United States of America was the first government created whose leaders would not be rulers.  Citizens, the ruled, would be elected to Congress, and a widely acknowledged principle of rotation in office would guarantee that members of Congress would not become lifelong legislators. This informal rule was such that it became customary to serve no more than four years in the House nor six in the Senate, and service  in Congress was viewed as a temporary duty undertaken on leave from some other occupation. Turnover was typically forty to fifty percent per election, many stepping down voluntarily.   Term limits apply to the President, the Vice President, 28 Governors (many who are limited to just one term), and hundreds of mayors as well.  The power to set Term Limits already exists: Article 1, Section 4, Clause 1 of the Constitution gives the states the authority to set the ‘times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives.”  Several states have set term limits on their on legislators and indicated their intention to do the same on  congressional terms.The Supreme Court will be ruling in the fall of 1994 as to the applicability and legality of the states to enforce term limits on federal officials (Congress). Rotation also is a historical precedence: The Roman republic rotated tribunes and various magistrates, including their consults, by confining them to one year in office.  Seventy-five percent of Americans believe that politics should not be a lifetime job.
	Andrew Jackson said, “Every man who has been in office a few years believes he has a life estate in it, a vested right.  This is not the principle of our government.  It is rotation in office that will perpetuate our liberty. What we want is a legislature of ordinary people who are willing to serve in the duty of their country, not to advance themselves, not as a career, but as a break from their actual career.” The founders clearly were in favor of citizen legislators who would through rotation “return home and mix with the people.  By remaining at the seat of government, they would acquire the habits of the place, which might differ from those of their constituents.”
	Term limits is one of the few devices which can break the link between legislative careerists and the capacity of the modern state to be bent to the service of their careerism.  A permanent class of career legislators is inherently against limited government--government that is discriminating in its ends and modest in its means. The pattern of expenditure produced by legislative careerists is a pattern politically comprehensible but socially and economically irrational and is also one which leads directly to large deficits.  Deficits are the incumbent’s best friend because they buy present benefits and votes by burdening future voters. Congress no longer represents the governed, it only represents itself. Many Congressman have no other occupation and know no other work.  The privileges and power that being in Congress boggles the mind; the entire purpose in life of a Congressman often is to get reelected at all costs and to stay in Congress; not to secure what is best for his constituents or his country. 
	Government mindset increases as tenure increases.  A definite correlation exists between length of service and sympathy for spending proposals. Aristotle defined a corrupt regime as one that rules for its private good rather than the public good.  Jefferson defined corruption as a legislature legislating for its own interests.  The reelection rate for House incumbents has exceeded ninety percent for the last twenty-one elections since 1950. The turnover rate among members of Congress during the 1980s was lower than that of the Soviet Communist Party’s Central  committee; in 1990 over 97 percent of the incumbents were reelected. The word for government controlling itself is autonarchy--combining anarchy and self-interest.
	The tradition of taking turns, alternating shifts, is widely accepted by most Americans.  Even nature does it:  a flock of geese in flight has an individual leader who takes a turn leading the V-shaped skein, taking the full burden of the wind.  Periodically, the leader drops back and another bird takes his place.  Thus sharing the workload and collectively determining the course, maximizing the performance of the group and ensuring cooperation.  
	The result of imposed Congressional term limits will be no more careerists.  The power of lobbyists and staffs will be reduced. and seniority and retirement systems will be reformed.  The Committee system must be consolidated and revised; special interests curbed.  Actual debate and action should result.  With term limits, elected officials will be required to return at least periodically to live among the people and directly experience the impact of the laws they have written. 
	Another result of the small degree of faith the general populace has placed in Congress and our other elected officials is that many good people who otherwise would make excellent representatives have openly declared they would not be caught dead in a public office.  The intense public scrutiny, the media circus of the campaign, the PAC special interests, the black hole that is congressional morality and accountability have caused this.  We need good leaders. We want the best to run for and be elected as our representatives.  We must cleanse public offices so that the best will be brought forward towards elected office, not repulsed by it.				


III.  Congress--Recommendations 
	 What is needed is curbs on Congress:  Term Limits, Limits on Campaign Funds, Disclosure statements for lobbyists, tighter limits on lobbying, registering, disclosure rules.We suggest campaign financing be accomplished totally through public funds, and kill all  PACs.  Voluntary contributions would be limited to $100 per person.  Pressure put upon employees or members of associations to contribute would be illegal and violate election laws.  Campaign contributions of any kind from any other source would be  strictly prohibited.  Campaigns would be funded strictly from federal funds with audits by independent auditors to guarantee proper use of funds.
	Our position on term limits is to limit the terms of both the Senate and the House (of a revised 4 years House term) to 2 terms each.  Period.  Cumulatively.  No taking a break and returning to run again.  A maximum of two terms for the same level position.  Afterwards they could advance to another elected federal office where they would be allowed to hold office for no more than one term.  In other words, a good House member could hold office for 8 years, progress for 12 years to the Senate, 8 as Vice President, and a final 8 as President.  That is 36 years of Federal office.  Perhaps too many but it would require up or out. And for a true leader, the people wants, this would probably be sufficient. Opposition to term limits present the possibility of a very talented person,  very very good why get him out of the system if he is doing a great job and he is performing well and better than someone else who is coming in new, wouldn’t the government be better leaving him in?  Our answer is up or out.  If he is good as a Congressmen, he should be good as a Senator. If he were to stay as a congressperson all his or her life, he becomes neither a good congressperson nor a good citizen. 
	The franking privilege is widely abused and must be revised or deleted.  Members should be allowed one mass mailing a year, at the end of each year, to report on the year past and on plans for the year ahead.  Challengers should be given equal use of franking for any usage during election years. 
	Omnibus bills attract pork like honey does bears.  The Crime bill of 1100 pages and the original Clinton health plan of 1500 pages is just too overpowering and overwhelming.  A Congressperson does not have the time to read let alone contemplate the potential effects of  a five inch thick document.  Our solution here is to create a maximum page limit for a bill.  The Gettysburg address is eloquent and moving and yet is just over 250 words; the Constitution and Declaration were adequate to provide direction for our country for over 200 years.  We recommend no more than 10 pages per act.  This would eliminate pork and congressional add-ons.  It would also create bills that are succinct, readable, and hopefully more understandable and manageable. 
	Congress, as an example of the arrogance and corruption which resides in that once formerly fine body, exempts itself from the operation of many of the laws it passes.  Members don’t have to obey the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, the Equal Pay Act, the Freedom of Information Act, The Privacy Act, the Ethics in Government Act, just to name a few.   Members defend such exemptions by arguing that Congress has a right to manage its internal affairs and they must be given complete freedom to hire and fire employees.  Why should voters have to accept the blanket hypocrisy of a legislative body saddling private citizens and businesses with burdensome regulations from which it exempts itself? By doing so, Congress undermines its moral authority to legislate rules for the rest of society. One potential solution is to forbid the legal implementation of any law which Congress itself fails to abide by.
	We believe Congress has grown too large to operate effectively. We are in favor of  a much smaller group than either of the current senate and the house. The bigger the group the less it is able to respond to crises and be relevant there are just to many individuals trying to take care of there own constituents. must be able to react quicker to modern crises which do not provide us the liberty to discuss items for months at a time.  Speedy decision making in government, as it already has become in the private sector, is  essential. Congress must be reduced in size.  Committees should be  downsized and minimized.  Constituents can be  represented by fewer congressmen and fewer senators and do the job just as well.  
	Our recommendation is one congressperson per state (50) and  between 16 and 20 senators based upon 2 each at large from between 8 and 10  geographically contiguous  and related areas. A classic geoeconomic book called The Nine Nations of North America indicated some areas relate better to each other regardless of state boundaries. The areas described were: Rust Belt, Eutopia (Seattle through San Francisco), Mexamerica, the Great Basin, the Prairies, Caribbean America (which includes South Florida), New England, Mid America, and Quebec.  Farm-centered Western Colorado relates more to Kansas City, Manitoba and Iowa than it does to Denver. Calgary has more in common with Utah and Denver than it does with Vancouver or Toronto. And so on. These nine regions have common interests and similar populations with each other.  
	We need to return Congress as a citizens group.   The millions of well educated and qualified, would vote electronically on all expenditures, taxes, and laws and debate the issues electronically.  True republic.   The house part time.  Budget and legislation for only 2 months a year at Washington. Congress should not be a permanent meeting ground.  It should meet twice a year for two weeks each session.  Congresspersons would then become part-time Congresspersons and full time  at their other occupation, which was what the founders wanted and what it should be.  With the electronic conferencing capabilities, internet, the information superhighway, little need exists for constant face-to-face interaction.  Electronic conferences can achieve much of the needed interaction.  This would mean that the Congressperson would remain in his/her home district and live among his/her constituents and work at a regular job, being  grounded in day to day living and in the local business community so as to be more in tuned with common person.  Therefore we would not have professional politicians but citizen-volunteers.  No more will we have a permanent ruling class with high salary, high fringe benefits, and royal treatment. 
	The time has come for complete and full public funding of national elections. Public funding of elections  is not a novel or untested concept; it was first proposed on the national level by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907. A model public funding system would contain the following elements:
	•A prohibition on all PAC contributions to any candidate in a primary or general election.
	•A prohibition on all individual contributions to general election candidates and strict limits (under $100) on individual  contributions to primary election candidates.
	•Reasonable spending limits for primary and general election races.
	•A provision to give all ‘qualified’ candidates public funds. Any candidate or party receiving at least 5 % of the vote in the general election would be qualified for federal public funds. All candidates qualifying for primary election ballot status would receive a predetermined amount of public funds, based on the spending limits, for the primary election. Those candidates surviving the primary and qualifying for ballot status in the general election would be provided with an additional amount of funds for the general election. If we were to presume spending ceilings for a House election at $500,000 per candidate: $150,000 for the primary and the remainder for the general election.   Funds may be spent as the candidates see fit.  Candidates still can spend as much of his own wealth as he desires.  The full cost of public funding would be about $300-500 million per year.  
	Our last proposal is to have a “None of the Above” (NOTA) ballot option.   If the majority of populace showed their displeasure for a non-opposed incumbent or for both of the candidates by voting for the NOTA, a new election would have to be held with new candidates. This would be useful in many cases where  none of the choices are acceptable to the populace. This would open up elections to more political competition.  Citizens fed up with the status quo could simply vote a vote of no confidence for either candidate and pull the NOTA lever.    If a plurality of votes are cast for NOTA, the candidates who lost to it would be disqualified and a new election must be held with a new slate of candidates.  This would also give citizens a reason to go to the polls even if they are not enthusiastic about the candidates offered them.  NOTA might even discourage negative campaigning since the candidates would be running for the approval of the votes, not against another candidate.

Home Page	
Preface & Introduction	
Chapter 1: Responsibility  
Chapter 2:  Leadership   
Chapter 3: Government  
Chapter 4:  Congress    
Chapter 5: Regulations and Bureaucracy   
Chapter 6: Defense  
Chapter 7: International Affairs 
Chapter 8: Crime and Justice  
Chapter 9:  Civil rights 
Chapter 10: Economic  
Chapter 11:  Education  
Chapter 12:  Health  
Chapter 13:  Planning and National Goals  
Conclusions  

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