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Posted by on Jun 28, 2009 in Politics | 16 comments

House Narrowly Passes Nonexistent Bill

It’s an unfortunate comment on the current state of our democracy that Congress routinely passes bills which virtually none of the members have read. Hope is also rapidly eroding that the White House will actually post all proposed legislation on the web far enough in advance that at least we could read them before they come to a vote. But at a bare minimum, up until now they seemed to at least stick with a policy of having a final copy of the bills in existence so they could have theoretically been read. That quaint, antiquated tradition seems to have drawn to a close as of Friday, when the house voted to pass their new centerpiece legislation, ACES. (Which stands for All your Cash will Easily be Stolen… um, no. Wait. It’s the American Clean Energy and Security Act.)

One of the key problems with that bill, at least from a technical standpoint, is that it didn’t actually exist in its finished form.

By all appearances, the House is about to vote on a very long bill of which it has no completed official copy.

Texas Republican Reps. Joe Barton and Louie Gohmert have just asked the chair whether there exists a complete, updated copy of the Waxman-Markey carbon-cap bill.

If a bill for which there is no copy were to actually pass this body,” Barton asked, “could the bill without a copy be sent to the Senate for its consideration?”

The more than 1,000 page bill had a three hundred plus page amendment and list of changes summoned out of thin air at the last moment, yet the House voted on it before those changes and additions could be incorporated into the final document. Come on, guys! The very least you could do is help out the happy and weak minded among us by preserving the illusion that you’re actually reading this stuff before you pass it.

We can, if you like, have an extensive debate on the bill itself. From what little we’ve seen there are actually some very good features in the proposal. Most of these deal with providing incentives to the expansion of alternative energy sources and providing more of our own energy via domestic sources. But at the same time, let us all at least be intellectually honest enough to admit one truth: this is a massive tax increase and there’s no other way to describe it. The energy companies are not going to simply “absorb” the additional costs and say, “Oh well. I guess we just won’t have as much of a profit this year.” They’re going to pass those costs on to us penny for penny. If that’s a cost that Americans are willing to pay to achieve these objectives, then fine. I suppose that’s what we’ll wind up doing. But please don’t try to yank our chains and call a tax increase something else.

But either way, even if we assume that the bill is reasonable, do us the courtesy of at least combining all the changes into one version before you vote. If you’re worried about using up that much paper, then just give us an electronic text document of it. Throw us a bone here, congresscritters. At least PRETEND to be doing your jobs!

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Father_Time

    Yeah the government needs the money to pay on the republican generated massive debt. It has to come from somewhere. Compromise in TYPE of energy bill had to be made. Stop blaming President Obama. Besides, one of the adjustments to the bill, after it becomes law might very well be price controls on energy companies, but we don’t know if we need it yet, now do we?

    When are we going to START hearing something positive out of these useless blogs anyway?

    • “Compromise in TYPE of energy bill had to be made. Stop blaming President Obama.

      If you have a free moment, Father_Time, could you point out where the President’s name or even the executive branch of our government was mentioned in my post? Did I even mention the name of either political party?

      No? Ok. I accept your apology.

      • joeaudio

        The second line of your post reads:
        “Hope is also rapidly eroding that the White House will actually post all proposed legislation on the web…”

        I assume you mean the White House in Washington DC, where the President lives?
        Don’t you even read you own post?
        And you complain about Congress not reading bills!
        Read you own post!

    • $199537

      Stop blaming President Obama.

      Obama promised he would post all legislation on the internet for five days prior to signing it but has broken that promise repeatedly. That’s what he’s criticizing Obama for, and legitimately. That’s really just a small part of Jazz’s post though since most of it refers to Congress.

  • GeorgeSorwell

    First of all, I don’t know why you’re even worrying about this bill. The Senate will kill it. Nothing will be done.

    Second of all, you’re quoting an opinion piece. And even then, the author hedges his whole argument in the first three words of the piece: “By all appearances”.

    In short, this author only pretended to do his job.

  • $199537

    This Congress seems to be in the habit of rushing through legislation without providing documentation, and as you say the concept of posting bills on the internet for review for five days has been scrapped. That the campaign promises of transparency have been so quickly dropped is disappointing. Does anyone know what’s in the 300 page amendment? My guess is pork.

    I suspect this particular bill will find tougher going in the Senate though, and maybe we can actually find out what’s in it.

  • Any time a lefty defends the passage of a Dem bill that no one read, I’m going to say two simple words: Patriot Act.

  • I really don’t think it’s fair to present every bill that involves regulations as a “tax increase.” It is true that consumer goods cost more when companies need to comply with regulations, but those regulations are often essential to protecting us from careless or unscrupulous businesses. I am happy to pay a few pennies more for food they doesn’t contain melamine, for example. I don’t mind paying a bit more for worker protections. I would rather see gemstones cost more than to buy cheaper ones from China, where employees have no protections and often die of silicosis from breathing silica dust in their poorly ventilated factories. I want my food to be Salmonella free and my drugs to be subjected to FDA mandated laboratory testing to assure that their purity and potency meets the specifications of regulatory agencies.

    Requiring electric utilities to clean up their act may cost a bit more, but I happen to like clean air and I believe our future will be brighter in many ways if we invest a little now in more of a clean energy future for ourselves and future generations.

    On the other hand, I do agree that a final bill should be available, and should be read by every legislator who is voting on it one way or the other.

    so, Jazz, here’s the full text of the bill, which I hope you will read.
    http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h2454/text

    I see lots of tax credits, but no actual taxes in the bill. Did I miss something? Jazz?

    In general, there’s a lot to like in this bill. I’m not a big fan of cap and trade, however. Actually, I’d prefer an honest emissions tax, but this post is just a mild example of how toxic the term “tax” is these days. So, the bill is about “incentives” and gives the Wall Streeters something to smile about, which makes me frown.

  • SteveK

    Michael Merritt said: “Any time a lefty defends…”

    A “lefty” eh?.. Was there a specific lefty you had in mind or are you just tossing out an “everyone on the left” ad hominem to see what kind of replies you’ll get?

    Also… Do you really think the “Patriot Act” is but two simple words Michael?

  • That the House of Representatives would pass a law that almost none of its members read is outrageous and beyond defense. And yet a number of the commenters here have decided to take their outrage on Jazz (the messenger) instead of the people in Congress who are truly deserving of condemnation.

    And while Jazz might not have mentioned the Democrats by name, I think we all know which party controls the House of Representatives. This bill could have never have passed without the assent of Pelosi and the Democratic Leadership. This is every bit as indefensible as when the Republican Leadership rushed through the Patriot Act only a couple of hours after the 342 page bill was printed.

  • How do you know they haven’t read it? I have. Have you? I don’t know if you’re characterizing me as being “outraged” at Jazz. He certainly knows better. I do hope Congress read it. Of course, the final bill will be worked out in conference, so they do have some time to consider where to compromise.

    • We know they didn’t read it because it sat on Nancy Pelosi’s desk that morning and 3 republican reps (one from OK, one from TX) asked for it and she said it was not available. The dems didn’t need to read it because they’re being told to pass it BY PELOSI!!!

  • DLS

    This bill was junk, compounded by poor behavior. At least these clowns will do something on another issue now instead of stoop to depths of, say, HR 1835 I believe it is (more energy BS — fuels).

  • DLS

    “How do you know they haven’t read it? I have. Have you?”

    Did you locate the additional 300 (or more) pages released just after three A.M. prior to the vote, and read it all, prior to the vote?

    I doubt it.

    * * *

    “This Congress seems to be in the habit of rushing through legislation without providing documentation”

    Without propriety, without sensibility, without self-control, even.

    I wonder what is the nature of the effort to stupidly rush this bill and other things like health care. Was this just cynical and brutal politics, abusing the advantage the Dems have now in Congress to ram through in any way possible as much as they can, is it a misreading of the public (not everyone is so gullible and manipulable they will fall for so much of what the Dems in Congress and the executive branch are doing), is it somewhat retarded-personal-development childish ambition and conceit and self-indulgence and simply wanting to do whatever they want as soon as they want (without considering the people’s views any more than the GOP’s), or what?

    At any rate, they’re already ready to rush through something on “immigration reform” (pro-immigration sign-up-more-Dems non-reform and likely amnesty) and who knows what next — another new thing also piled atop the existing junk pile or a revisitation for a second set of rounds on issues other than health care (in addition to health care, that is — these people are wacky), like HR 1835 for energy, more stimulus spending, more stuff for gay rights, or going after “card check” and other union goodies as a follow-up to the UAW payoff as part of federalizing the Detroit companies. Everything at least twice before November!

  • “I wonder what is the nature of the effort to stupidly rush this bill and other things like health care. ”

    It’s called “getting stuff done.” I like it.

    I can’t respond to all your repetitive talking points DLS, but as an example of the other side of your rant about GM and Chrysler, the bankers got ALL their money, while the unions got around 50%. If Obama had just let them crash, neither group, nor shareholders, nor bondholders would have gotten squat.

  • Dear GREENDREAMS:

    what part of cap and trade dont you understand is ‘not a tax increase?’ That’s the CAP part. If this bill is passed, at any time, if they wish to lower the CAP, then guess what….YOU pay more tax. This bill has nothing to do with the environment. It is the same bill they passed in Spain in which their unemployment went up from 9% to 18% within 2 years. IF this bill is passed, it will begin the collapse of this nation into bankruptcy. As far as T Boone Pickens’ House bill 1835, and him calling for a comprehensive energy plan, well, I believe you’re old enough to remember the last ‘comprehensive energy plan.’ It ended up with you waiting in line for gas for hours. This is a government Cap and Regulation on FREE trade and will amount to an increase of 800 billion in new taxes. Enjoy your snooz folks – iamjohngalt.org

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