How to Improve America’s Legislature

The American government has some things that are worth considering fixing. (two suggestions at the end)

There are two items that are the cause of the issue, and neither are bad in their own right, but when put together cause problems.
1. Representation based on geographical districts
2. Bills get edited and end up much larger than when they start out.

The legislative branch is the strongest wing of our government. It is fractured by design to make sure that everyone is represented. The problem with this is that it leaves the executive branch to look out for everyone, as a whole.

Case in point: the current health care bill (12/2009). From what I can tell, it started out being relatively clean with the goal of reigning in the insurance industry, trying to cut down overall health care costs, and keep people from going bankrupt to pay for health care, with the expansion of government coverage.

The bill as it stands has been diluted from two directions in order to get enough legislative support to pass it. First, things like the public option and single payer have been removed. That must have earned more votes than it lost. The remaining votes had to be bought with earmarks, or giveaways to their districts.

So, anyone who is going to support the bill now, because of earmarks for them, is no longer voting for the bill, but instead voting for the earmarks in the bill.

So, how to fix this.

1. A per-capita tax of 50% for benefits within a bill based on district. Does the federal government give your town $50m to build a dike? Great. The 300,000 voters in your district now pay $83.33 as their share of the dike. But now, rather than it being paid for at a rate of 0.0005%, it’s now 50%. Pork projects by representatives would be received differently if the represented people actually had to pay for some of the pork.

2. Each bill only does one thing. Sure, you’ll have gridlock without people voting for their earmarks. But there’s gridlock now, and the price for unlocking the gridlock is tons of unnecessary spending. So, if you want earmarks write it so people will vote for it on its own. Your district will be paying 50% of the cost, so sure. This also removes the need for a line-item veto.

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