Mark Twain is credited with the witticism that says, “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session.”
There is no telling what Mark Twain would say if he could see today’s Congress. Humor aside, the remark is right on target.
What can we do about it?
Rick Perry has a pretty good idea about what we can do about Congress. Make it part time.
Congress spends far too much time in Washington and there is little they do that we can really consider worthwhile. What does Congress do?
For starters, it spends money. It spends more money than we have. It also likes to have pointless hearings that either have all of the fairness of one of Stalin’s show trials or are the opportunity to have some ignorant celebrity to pontificate on something.
Texas is a state that runs very well. It is among the reddest of the Red States. It is also among the most economically successful of the states. Granted, Texas does have some great advantages, including natural resources.
It also has one other huge advantage. It has a very part time legislature. Members of the Texas legislature only make about $28,000 a year for their service. Another good benefit of the Texas state legislature is they only meet once every other year. The Constitution of the State of Texas mandates the legislature can only meet for 140 days.
Looking across the United States, not shockingly, the most liberal states have full time legislatures, while the most conservative states only have part time legislatures.
States like California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey all have full time legislatures. Those state legislatures also have large full time staffs. Those states are also economic basket cases, with California and Illinois heading at full speed towards economic collapse.
States like Texas, Tennessee, Montana, New Hampshire and Kansas have part time legislatures. They also have smaller staff and also are much better off than the liberal states with full time legislatures.
Perhaps Rick Perry is on to something.
What would happen if we cut Congress down to 120 days of sessions spread out over two years?
They would have to come into town, get work done and get out. Congress would have to get to the business of coming up with a budget quickly and getting that voted on.
They would not have time for their silly hearings that are at best a waste of time and at worst excuses for the members of Congress to be little more than media attention whores.
If Congress were a part time legislature, they would have much less time to cause mischief and much less time to spend passing really bad laws. Cutting the Congress down to a part time Congress could cut the number of staffers Congress needs, therefore cutting the budget. Does a part time Congress really need to take those taxpayer-funded junkets?
A part time Congress might be forced to leave the Washington bubble and interact with the people they are supposed to represent and might actually learn how much contempt the American people hold for Congress.
A part time Congress could make Congress a better institution.
It certainly could not make it any worse.
I have a better solution than this that I'll have out in a book in just a few weeks - I'll let everyone know once the book is published
I'm on board with the concept, especially the junket system.
I don't give a rats azz about trade meetings in Botswana, or Belize that these politico boobs take for the sake of justifying (supposedly) their job.
They no longer work for us, but against us.
Do away with the super committe, do away with the Congress perks. Yes, they work part time. AND cut the so called presidents hours 100%.
That would not be too difficult, since Obama only works about 4 hours a day (Monday-Friday, that is) often starting the day at 10:00 or 11:00 a.m. and usually finishing by 4:00 p.m.
Agreed and the GOOOH system would give us reps with no ties to special interest money, high accountability and term limits.
GOOOH would certainly increase productivity in certain areas! Proposed term limits would cause the dishonest to feather their nests quickly. Why not? No need to worry about re-election!
No one has ever satisfactorily explained to me why a person would spend $8M in campaign funds (the average spent on US Senate races) to obtain a job paying $175K. (Of course the benefits are pretty sweet.)
On the other hand, that $8M is mostly OPM (other people's money.)
Only one solution to America's political problems-->TERM LIMITS.
"Still water becomes stagnant, running water cleanses itself"
Term Limits are built into the original Constitution. The problem has been that we the people haven't been exercising them because we haven't been paying attention as the Founders expected we would. I think we've learned our lesson.
I'm on the side of leaving the original Constitution and Bill of Rights alone, just as they were written. Virtually every amendment adopted since the 1930s has caused us nothing but trouble.
By that logic, Carol we should be able to elect the same President as many time as we wish. We must do something to curtail the greed among our representatives that has caused the massive corruption we are now seeing in DC. Limiting the number of times a rep can be elected will do that and will also change the paradigm of those running for office to one of "I'd like to give back" instead of "what can I get".
I also like Perry's idea of cutting their $174,000 salary in half and allowing representatives to have other jobs; salaries would get halved again if the budget is not balanced by 2020. Likewise, the President's $400,000 salary would be cut in half if the budget hasn't been balanced by then.
Only one problem: good luck getting the Congress to approve it.
Part-time? Congress is already part-time! All you hear today from Congress is the need to cut: cut waste, cut spending, cut the budget. But how about cutting the number of weeks vacation that members of Congress get every year? Are you aware that members of Congress take a week off for virtually every weekday holiday and weeks off for the big holidays, accumulating nearly twenty-six weeks of vacation time every year? Talk about waste! Members of Congress currently earn $174,000 annually. If you count the $110,000 in taxpayer-funded fringe benefits Members receive (including plush retirement plans, paid time off, and contributions to Social Security and Medicare taxes), they’re earning close to $285,000 per year. Not too shabby for working a half of a year, is it?
Ronald, that is a great suggestion! Along with that we need to repeal the 17th Amendment so Senators are appointed by the state legislature again as originally intended. Both moves would tend to direct allegiance to where it belongs.