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.