GOP is not helping folks who are struggling

Too often, our congressional representatives are voting on bills hundreds — if not thousands — of pages long.

The Affordable Health Care Act was about 2,700 pages long; the regulations about 11,000 pages.

H.R.1, called the For the People Act, currently before Congress is 791 pages long.

Who is actually writing legislation?

Is it our representatives, their staff, industry executives or is it lobbyists?

Is the legislation meant to help constituents, a political party, a politician or some entity with a financial investment in its passage?

Every piece of legislation should include a list of anyone who contributed to its content along with their affiliations.

Why are so many bills so complex?

The language of most proposed legislation is confusing and difficult to follow.

Generally, proposed legislation includes references to other laws or regulations to which the average citizen does not have easy access.

Is it possible that politicians intentionally use complexity to limit scrutiny?

Do you remember hearing, “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” or, “If you like your current health care insurance you can keep it” or Nancy Pelosi saying of the Affordable Care Act, in 2010: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”?

Is it possible that the true intent of creating a 2,700-page bill with thousands of pages of regulations was to obscure the true effect of the bill?

How many of our elected congressional representatives do you believe have personally read the entire 791 pages of H.R.1 For the People Act?

My guess would be less than a handful, if that many.

This bill is full of pages and pages of references to numbered parts, lettered sections and subsections.

It is a bill written for party politicians, not the people they represent.

A number of polls indicate that only one in five Americans trusts our government.

Perhaps that number could be improved if all state and federal legislation were limited to 100 pages or less, presented in plain language using words with common and everyday meanings, include a list of anyone who contributed to content along with their affiliations and explain any financial obligations associated with the legislation and how it will be funded.

Nancy Foster

Louisville

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(4) comments

Charlie McGrath

How about the names of bills? The Affordable Care Act that made healthcare more expensive. The Safe Act that didn't make anyone more safe. The For the People Act is to give the government more power. Let's start naming them truthfully.

rdsouth

Most things are really complex. Not just laws. This applies to the policies that laws create, to the problems the policies address, and to the reasons that bills are even more complex than they have to be. It's known that part of the game of competing legislative priorities is to hide things in the complexity. But it's also true that laws that don't specify enough detail are likely to lead to the executive branch filling the holes. And who writes legislation varies from legislator to legislator and bill to bill. Indeed lobbyists like ALEC often write legislation and provide it to legislators along with suspicious bulging sacks of cash, it's also true that much legislation is written and reviewed by legislative staff. The assistants who work in congress are the institutional memory and often know more than the elected representatives they work for, providing summaries and working to execute the intent of the boss without actually bothering the boss with all that detail. Finally, many legislators take a personal interest in every detail, and they actually hammer legislation into its final form through the complex legislative process which can produce many amendments and riders. Part of the reason for the size of bills is the process which forces everything to be inserted in single huge bills because that way you can get things through on the strength of what they are bundled with. What could solve these problems? One is to actually have majoritarian democracy. Simplify the legislative process (through rules changes) to give the majority the power to do what it wants without having to negotiate. Even better, but probably impractical, would be to get rid of the multicameral model. There's no need to have two houses. Another measure that might help is to get rid of the amendment process. Let legislators draft and submit bills and then the bill can be debated and voted up or down without being tinkered with any more. I'm sure other measures could be created. But nobody has a vested interest in them, so why bother to even think about it? Legislators answer to people who fund campaigns and the people who fund campaigns like laws complex.

Pitbull

You're spot on Nancy. A few too many lawyers in DC, perhaps? And like you mentioned lobbyists, etc. We need to simplify. They are pulling the wool over our eyes (and its getting very scratchy). 100 pages or less. I love it.

forsythia

In Ms. Foster's letter to the editor only used Democrat sponsored bills as examples. Her letter would have more credibility if she used a couple of Republican sponsored bill as example eg. the 2017 tax bill. Until she does her letter is tainted to be partisan.

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