June 24 2013

Should We Take Up a Collection for Speed Reading Lessons for Congress?

Charlotte Hays

We were told that ObamaCare had to be passed so we could find out what it in it.

So how’s that working out?

Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate seems on the verge of passing another unread piece of legislation that will have a huge impact on the country. Do we now have a Congress that has evolved into a body that routinely passes laws it hasn’t even read? I'll bet George III's Parliament at least read the laws it passed.

I am not going to get quite as much into the pros and cons of the immigration bill that comes up today as into the pro of reading a bill before it is passed. Like ObamaCare, this bill is far-reaching andcould drastically change the country. Haven’t we had enough of this?

The Hill reports that New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer “predicts mass demonstrations” if the bill does not pass in the Republican-controlled House. I was about to call this a veiled threat of riots, except that it’s not really veiled, is it?

The White House is playing a big role in moving the legislation towards passage—but only covertly. I kid you not.

The New York Times reports that the White House has launched a “stealth campaign” to push the bill. It is headquartered in a door with no sign in the Dirksen Building, down the hall from the Senate Judiciary Committee.

[T]he work space normally reserved for the vice president is now the hub of a stealthy legislative operation run by President Obama’s staff. Their goal is to quietly secure passage of the first immigration overhaul in a quarter century.

“We are trying hard not to be heavy handed about what we are doing,” said Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and the president’s point person on immigration.

Six years ago President George W. Bush publicly sent cabinet secretaries to roam the Capitol building daily to try to woo Republican senators for a similar immigration bill. But this time, high-profile help from the White House is anathema to many Republicans who do not want to be seen by constituents as carrying out the will of Mr. Obama….

“We have folks who know the Senate really well, who know the players, who have been through this before so they know exactly what Senate staff needs,” Ms. Muñoz said. “We are deeply, deeply engaged.”

Yes, they’ve been through it before: ObamaCare was the product of wheeling and dealing and arm twisting. But advocates never urged lawmakers to read it, and indeed with a 2,000-plus-page bill of immense complexity reading it might not have been illuminating. And, by the way, don't you miss George W. Bush's transparency? Imagine publicly sending cabinet secretaries to the Hill instead of setting up a secret boilerroom.

 By the way, the immigration bill also contains more Obama-style stimulus spending in the form of a jobs program, ostensibly designed to help people who are already citizens respond to new workers coming to our shores.

Too many on Capitol Hill have seen the Obama presidency as a time when the liberal wish list can be made a reality—but this requires not reading laws before they are passed, threats of riots, and a lot of pork. If ObamaCare is a fiasco, they figure that we're stuck with it and the very unworkable nature of it might prove useful, perhaps as a pretext for ushering in a single-payer system. They get  what they wanted and their message to the rest of us is, “Deal with it.”

I said I wasn’t going to deal with the bill itself—just the necessity of our solons knowing what is in it before they cast votes. But I can’t resist calling your attention to Victor David Hanson’s bleak assessment of what this bill could mean:

There are lots of reasons to believe that most of what is promised in the current so-called comprehensive immigration-reform bill won’t be honored if it is passed by the full Congress and signed by the president.

First, this administration does not have a reliable record of living up to its policy promises. Obamacare — a similarly huge bill that few had read — was sold to Congress and the public on the assurance that its enactment would lower insurance premiums. As it begins to take effect, even its principal architect, Senator Max Baucus, has called the program a “train wreck.”

Second, this administration feels that law is a fluid concept, the degree of enforcement predicated on perceived social justice. Bureaucrats and judges are always more humane adjudicators than the legislators who drew up the laws or the voters who elected the legislators. Who is to say that Black Panthers were at a polling place in order to intimidate voters, so why pursue a criminal complaint against them? Was not the Defense of Marriage Act an unsophisticated, silly law? Why, then, enforce it?

Is there another train wreck headed our way?

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