One Bill to Rule Them All

Before Congress passes one more bill this year, the following should be signed into law:

No bill shall be voted into law without every member of Congress having read said bill.

And, yes, it’s that simple. I’m sure there will be those who claim I’m oversimplifying very complex matters, to which there is only one valid response: bullshit.

It’s this simple. If you can’t read and understand the bill, then you shouldn’t pass it. End of story. I don’t care what political party you’re in. I don’t care how necessary or noble the bill supposedly is.

And if the bill is “too long,” then perhaps that’s as good an indication as any that it shouldn’t be passed.

The U.S. Constitution, which is meant as the foundation of our entire government, clocks in at a mere 4,400 words and was a document that was easily understood by any literate soul at the time of passing. Now, it’s quite obvious that many in Congress haven’t read the damn thing judging by the laws they pass. And I guess if they can’t bother with that, then expecting them to read a bill 1,000 PAGES long is too much to ask.

So how about another simple solution: Don’t pass any bills longer than 4,400 words. Good enough for the Constitution, good enough for everything else.

Okay, now I’m oversimplifying things. But think about it this way: You have two deliberative bodies with no real expertise in anything who don’t read the bills they’re trying to pass and don’t necessarily deliberate — unless you count negotiating with lobbyists and special-interest groups as deliberation. And that’s where these bills grow into 1,000 page monsters written by God knows who and unread by anyone until it’s too late. Plain, simple language in short documents would go a long way toward making bills easy to understand and making it hard for Congressfolk (or their staffers) to hide crap within them.

George Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English Language”:

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. . . . Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

Sound familiar?

5 thoughts on “One Bill to Rule Them All

  1. You know where I fall on this. Like I said, this behavior wouldn’t fly on most other jobs.

    PROFESSOR: Hey, I didn’t actually read your paper. It was kind of long, and I had a bunch of them to read, but I’m pretty sure it’s a B.

    COP: Hey, I didn’t actually see you run that red light. I was busy doing some other things, but I’m gonna arrest you anyway.

    DOCTOR: Hey, I didn’t actually check your symptoms. I had a lot of patients waiting, and it’s been a long day, but why don’t you take this medication anyway?

    REPORTER: Hey, I didn’t actually check the facts on this story, but it sounds like a good story, so let’s run it. (Whoops…I forgot about the NY Times. Never mind that last one.)

    It’s unbelievable that some of them are even TRYING to justify not reading the bill. “Well, it’s really long.”


    Maybe if you’d spend less time trying to get re-elected, or being camera whores (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Schumer) you’d have more time to…oh, I don’t know…do what you were elected to do?

    People should be outraged over this, Republicans and Democrats alike. This is beyond political parties. THIS is the American system that is truly broken, and far, far worse than health care.

  2. How about no bill should be longer then 1 hour to read, and each no bill should be legally pass unless read twice in in the same session of congress before a final vote.

  3. Hey, maybe we could all be in one of those Sprint/Nextel commercials, like “What if loggers ruled the world?”

    “What if non-assholes ran the government?”

  4. Don’t be ridiculous. We have to go at this in steps, like the health care bill. First we have to require that all lawmakers can read.

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