25 January 2013

I Can Fix Everything...

I am sure you could too, but I am willing to bet (figuratively of course) that your solution to the moribund institution called Congress would be a lot like mine.  Tell me…

1.       Public and limited campaigns – 
Getting elected now matters more than serving, in part because it costs so much.  Create a new Fairness Doctrine for TV (including cable!) that gives all candidates on the ballot the same amount of time on the air.  The limit the total amount of air time for them all to say 30% of advertising time.  Then limit the time they can advertise to the month before the primary and the month before the general election.  Want to spend more, fine.  Use the mail.  Buy space in newspapers.  They both could use the business.

2.       Longer terms
Two year cycles are too short.  The encourage the perpetual campaign, at the expense of actual governance.  Extend Representatives to four years, senators to eight, and the president to two five year terms.  

3.       Judicial Congressional redistricting
End gerrymandering by creating a panel of retired federal judges to draw new districts every ten years.  Have any challenges sent directly to the Supreme Court.
4.       No congressional perks or exemptions from laws affecting them personally 
Members of Congress and the President are not affected by most of the laws they pass.  They should be members of Social Security, have a health plan used by ordinary federal employees, join Medicare when qualified, and have a 403b form of retirement subject to ERISA like the rest of us. I don't get a guaranteed pension, nor do most citizens.  Neither should they. 

5.       Tax return and financial asset visibility (law)
Congress and the President must annually make their income tax and financial assets visible to the public. Let's see how average they are, and whether they remain so.

6.       Disqualified from any relationship to Congress after serving.
No fair changing sides.  No member of Congress or President may work for any firm that lobbies Congress or any federal department or office.  In my business, when you retire you leave town and shut up.  So should they.  

Maybe there are other things that should be done, but I think that's a good start.  And only one of them would require amending the Constitution.  What do you think?

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