There is a lot of talk in Washington these days about “draining the swamp.” Let’s be clear: You can’t drain the swamp by changing the alligators.”
Change all of them at once, and the swamp still exists, with all the snakes and other slimy creatures. It exists because of the structure of the swamp. It is dammed up, and what forms the dam in our legislative system? Hint: This is uniquely American.
The answer: Riders on bills. This is the name of the process by which amendments – tacked on items that have nothing to do with the nature, purpose, and scope of the bill and would have no chance to pass on their own merits – are allowed to “ride along” on passable legislation.
Some of these amendments are designed specifically to be ‘poison pills’- things so awful you can’t possibly vote for the major bill – but almost have to. Talk about gridlock makers!
No other major democracy in the world allows this clearly undemocratic process to occur. In some countries, it is a criminal offense to even attempt to place riders on legislation.
While riders are the most egregious characteristic, it gets worse when our congress fogs the swamp by making legislation unreadable, unsearchable, and unaccountable. Even though many of the bills are huge, there are no page numbers listed on the table of contents*, no search boxes, no hyperlinking, and no page indexing. The authors of the various sections are unnamed (often lobbyists), the formatting (including font size and style) unstandardized, and the time delay between inclusion of text and voting on the bill, non-existent. Clearly, congress is not operating in the modern world.
Who do you think benefits from this convoluted system of act writing legislation? Let us guess….. Lots of lawyers, lobbyists and special interests are going to hate this one. The swamp works very well for them.
It is time to drain the swamp and turn it into dry land where we can build a new, solid foundation for 21st Century governance. We need to vote people into office who are ready to pull the plug on this dam. We also need let those currently in office know how mad we are about the way they are doing business.
We’re not going to take it anymore!
The intent of the CLEAR Act is to point the way to better government. This proposed act is a grassroots effort that uses an uncommon approach rarely used in D.C.: common sense.
This is citizen driven, but is already picking up support among some lawmakers. It has its roots in the experience of small business people who don’t have the luxury of an army of lawyers and lobbyists to read and make sense of the huge documents our congress regularly puts out.
Want to get involved and really make a difference? That’s the intention of this site; to give you a voice in developing a prototype bill. We have posted the draft on this site. Our research has shown that, in the end, this bill may have to be followed up by a constitutional amendment to keep the alligators from chomping on the new act.
We will be building this CLEARACT website to allow you to:
- See which politicians now running for office or in office (and want to get re-elected or just do a better job and have an environment to work in that is not nearly as stinky) are backing this;
- Provide you the resources to contact your elected representatives and prospective candidates;
- Let you view and comment on a prototype, evolving bill;
- Link your friends and neighbors in and let them share in the fun;
- Be able to chat with others about this idea; and
- Be able to point us toward your media contacts so we can spread the word.
Are you in? Ready for a wild ride? Let’s have fun and get this done. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Don’t believe it? Check it out for yourself. Start with the PP & ACA (Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act – some refer to it as “Obama Care”). It is only 905 pages. You can view the official document at the official government web site: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr3590enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr3590enr.pdf