In Congress, for a bill to become law, the process is quite elaborate. Feel free to see how it works here.
As a bill trundles its way through Congress, it often becomes an over-bloated piece of…er…legislation that bears little resemblance of the original intent with add-ons that are the result of politicians aiming to improve their chances of winning re-election by telling their constituents, “see what I did for you?”
A most fitting example of pork barrel spending; a $1.8 million rider to the 2009 omnibus spending bill to study pig manure odors in Democrat Senator Tom Harkin’s home district. While this amount is a drop in the bucket to our total federal spending, it makes up one of thousands, and those drops add up.
This bill was certainly not of national interest, and as with most federal law, is a clear violation of the 10th amendment, although the Supreme Court seems to have all but forgotten about that one. However, it flooded $1.8 million into Senator Harkin’s district, no doubt garnering him favor. But, Senator Harkin, or even the DNC as a whole, are not alone in this practice—it is common among both parties.
Many people think Congress fight too much among themselves instead of compromising, and therefore nothing gets done, and consider this a bad thing.
While I used to share that sentiment as a child when I was young and ignorant, it wasn’t until I started becoming interested in politics that I realized this was a good thing and exactly what our forefathers intended.
So why would they do this? Because any law is essentially an erosion of one person’s liberty, they wanted to be sure that any bill that made it into law was ultimately something that would transcend a political agenda or partisan politics.
We start from a point of ultimate freedom or anarchy, then add laws as we deem necessary in order to protect people’s rights. If they don’t pass a majority in the House or Senate—gone. If the President vetoes it—gone. If the Supreme Court, strikes it down—gone. The default position should be no law unless a proper case that almost all of us can agree on as to why it should be allowed.
On opposite sides of the spectrum, there are politicians like Senator Rand Paul (Doctor) or Senator Ted Cruz (Attorney) who left private practice in the pursuit of a civic duty to restore our country’s liberty. But then there’s our president or the disgraced Anthony Weiner who never spent time in the private sector and who simply always aspired to be part of the ruling class; achieving said goal.
While these two competing ideologies are generally at odds with each other, they certainly agree that murder should be illegal for instance, so passing such a law should be easy, and obviously, such laws exist.
However, when it comes to taxes for instance, they’re generally not going to see eye-to-eye, and a fight will ensue. If the system works as designed, no law is passed through both houses of Congress and/or is vetoed by the President. Or on occasion, overturned by the SCOTUS.
Occasionally, this system breaks down, such as when Obamacare was passed. The Democrats controlled both houses and the White House, but the Supreme Court still had the opportunity to make this right, yet they didn’t. John Roberts, in a peculiar move, opted to find a way to allow the law within the framework of the Constitution by rewriting it as a tax instead of a penalty.
He indicated that he didn’t feel like the court should try to violate the will of the people who elected the politicians to enact such a law. But, this decision is infuriating and violates the spirit of the Supreme Court who are there to protect the minority from the majority using the Constitution as their basis—not public pressure.
If the Supreme Court ultimately feels they shouldn’t undermine the will of the majority, then there is no reason for them to even consider the Constitution, they would ultimately just become a third house of Congress or a higher court of appeals.
John Roberts ignored his duty to not consider the will of the majority when our rights as enumerated in the Constitution are violated. Since he’s not susceptible to elections, I will never understand his logic here, but it was clearly disappointing to those of us on the side of liberty.
Yet, this is exactly what the people asked for—a compromise. People claim that the left and the right should work together and compromise in order to get more done, but I couldn’t disagree more.
If I want to go to a football game, and my girlfriend wants to go to the ballet, so we compromise and go to a comic convention neither of us wanted to attend because it’s nothing like football or the ballet, is that a good result for both of us?
Instead, Congress and the president should learn to pass laws in smaller chunks, picking only the things that they agree on, and scrapping anything else. Not compromise; common ground.
Sadly, the president had the power to do something like this by line-item veto, but for reasons I can not understand, the Supreme Court struck it down in Clinton v. City of New York. Their logic being it gives the president too much power against Congress. But this argument makes no sense.
If a law makes it to the president, that means essentially everything in it is OKed by Congress, so if the president strikes down certain parts, what’s left should still be OK by Congress. All the president is doing is advancing liberty in some small way by keeping additional legislation off the books.
If Congress doesn’t like this, they pass laws without all this extra nonsense, and if pork barrel spending is worthwhile, it should pass as its own bill on its merits.
So the next time you see Congress fighting and they cannot seem to find common ground, don’t lament that they can’t seem to compromise, cheer that the system is working as intended.