Washington: Where no-brainer laws that should have been in place originally go to die

posted at 4:41 pm on March 20, 2014 by Dustin Siggins

Last week, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) proposed yet another piece of legislation that shouldn’t need introducing:

 Sen. Tom Coburn, after rounding up bipartisan support from about 20 senators, introduced legislation Wednesday that would require federal agencies to provide detailed information annually about their programs.

The bill is a companion to one by Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, that passed the House last month.

Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the bill would require an inventory of government programs that doesn’t exist. Agencies would have to describe all programs, detail the amount spent on them and the number of beneficiaries and estimate the number of staff members, including contractors. The information would have to be posted online.

As a longtime fan of Coburn’s work on federal transparency, efficiency, and accountability, I was temporarily encouraged to see the Senator’s legislation have so many cosponsors, especially since the House version was passed.

Unfortunately, I was swiftly reminded of how much necessary and basic “good government” proposals from Coburn has been ignored over the years.

There were the anti-fraud measures Coburn and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced in 2012. One Senate staffer told me the savings could total at least $60 billion per year.

In three reports in 2011, 2012, and 2013, the GAO found at least $200 billion in duplication across the federal government. Coburn has introduced legislation to force agencies to implement changes around these reports — but few, if any, have been signed into law.

Back in Black, the 600-page manifesto on inefficiencies, was published in 2011. While Coburn said it didn’t do enough, it cut $9 trillion from expected spending over a decade. Nearly three years later, fewif any measures have been made law.

And Coburn has worked on bipartisan and partisan legislation that would improve on the financial circumstances facing Medicare, Social Security, the Defense Department, and other agencies and departments.

Unfortunately, despite all of this work, Coburn has few real successes to show for his 16 years on Capitol Hill. He has stopped some bad legislation, certainly, and had modest victories — such as the House ban on earmarks and the elimination of some ethanol subsidies — but it’s disturbing to see that almost none of his necessary and “should have been there in the first place” bills and proposals have made it into law.

And Coburn’s not alone in this small category of “good government” Members of Congress. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) put out a five-year balanced budget in 2011 that eliminated several departments. Former Rep. John Linder (R-GA) first introduced the FAIR Tax, and the Republican Study Committee’s annual budget proposals never gotten through the allegedly conservative House of Representatives.

It used to be I got excited by solid legislation. But after more than five years of living in the Beltway, and watching conservatives be flatly ignored by statists in both parties – even though the House is under GOP control – I am wondering if most good legislation is just a waste of time.

Which leads to an obvious exit question: What options are left? Legislation is the traditional route, at least in this country, to make government change. (The unconstitutional use of Executive Orders by numerous Presidents notwithstanding.) Shutting down the government was a disaster, and Congress doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to not raise the debt ceiling.

It looks like we have to go back to basics: Voter education, GOTV efforts, and effective use of the media. As they say, elections have consequences, and oncoming fiscal insolvency is going to be one of them unless things change drastically and quickly.


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Any intelligent bills that are useful and proper will go to Dingy Harry’s desk. When it is full, they will be transported to the unused nuke waste storage facility in Nevada.

Any other questions?

platypus on March 20, 2014 at 4:47 PM

platypus on March 20, 2014 at 4:47 PM

.
That wasn’t quite how I was going to put it . . . . . but yours is MUCH better.
.
“Dittos”

listens2glenn on March 20, 2014 at 4:54 PM

It looks like we have to go back to basics: Voter education, GOTV efforts, and effective use of the media.

Gee, he forgot to mention revolution. Was that an oversight??

Deano1952 on March 20, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Washington: Where no-brainer laws that should have been in place originally go to die

Sensible and logical laws like this are DOA in brain-dead DC. Basic “good government” proposals are ignored because they are bad for the business of our politicians, government worker unions and bureaucratic cronies.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2014 at 5:01 PM

It looks like we have to go back to basics: Voter education, GOTV efforts, and effective use of the media.

Gee, he forgot to mention revolution. Was that an oversight??

Deano1952 on March 20, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Maybe not an oversight, just refraining from mentioning such a delicate topic, since the ingredients for such are at the moment fomenting. Don’t really want to stir up that brew but only as a desperate and last resort I would suppose.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2014 at 5:05 PM

This will go exactly nowhere. There are few things the government despises more than getting a taste of their own regulatory and compliance medicine.

natasha333 on March 20, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Maybe not an oversight, just refraining from mentioning such a delicate topic, since the ingredients for such are at the moment fomenting. Don’t really want to stir up that brew but only as a desperate and last resort I would suppose.

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2014 at 5:05 PM

In the meantime, NULLIFY. I don’t advocate violence, but you bet your sweet ass I advocate self defense.

gryphon202 on March 20, 2014 at 5:22 PM

In the meantime, NULLIFY. I don’t advocate violence, but you bet your sweet ass I advocate self defense.

gryphon202 on March 20, 2014 at 5:22 PM

DITTO!

hawkeye54 on March 20, 2014 at 5:27 PM

wonder how many new workers would need to be hired to fulfill this though?
seems it could be a double edged sword at this point :(

how about a deduplification.

for every dept that has a corresponding state level counterpart the federal level entity be turned into an advisory board made up of 2 people (elected/appointed by the state governments) from each state with no regulatory power and a budget only for their salary and travel.

and either dump the territories or grant them statehood, I opt for dumping them.

dmacleo on March 20, 2014 at 5:27 PM

The Federal Government should have one of these. It should also be mandatory that before any new program can be crunk up there must be a review of existing programs to see if what they are about to do is already being done somewhere (effectively or not) and whether the new proposal can be combined with or (heaven forbid) replace something else. But that would be efficient and we can’t have that, no sir.

jffree1 on March 20, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Gee, he forgot to mention revolution. Was that an oversight??

Deano1952 on March 20, 2014 at 4:59 PM

Wars, especially civil wars are very bad for everyone. Avoiding them is an indicator of true cleverness.

CrazyGene on March 20, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Coburn, for all his declared interest in good government and fiscal responsibility, must be an unusually poor judge of character. His good friend Barack “Idiot” Obaaahma is the personification of everything that Coburn claims to oppose in government. His affirmative action career stands in stark contrast to everything Coburn claims to champion.

Good job, Senator. You’re a real doofus.

Jaibones on March 20, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Did this bill include identifying duplication within the IC or subjecting the various elements to such accountability?

uatu1878 on March 20, 2014 at 6:22 PM

Wars, especially civil wars are very bad for everyone. Avoiding them is an indicator of true cleverness.

CrazyGene on March 20, 2014 at 5:51 PM

Or an ovine acceptance of one’s master’s will.

Solaratov on March 20, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Unfortunately, I was swiftly reminded of how much necessary and basic “good government” proposals from Coburn has been ignored over the years.

Yes, Tom Coburn is ever so quick to work getting things done for the Democrats but he still hasn’t quite figured out that the Lucy Democrats aren’t going to hold the football for Charlie Brown Republicans like him to kick.

RJL on March 20, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Jaibones on March 20, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Sure… I suppose publicly vilifying and castigating Obama and the Democrat members of congress would have been a far more efficient and effective means of getting them to see things his way…pass legislation that would benefit the entire nation… rather than offering them the opportunity to be the person he suggested they might be… and… by very public failure… prove him wrong.

thatsafactjack on March 20, 2014 at 6:45 PM

The Doomsday Book

A full inventory of the kingdom of government programs.

Call it that and run on it, that is a very Rand Paul sort of presidential campaign theme. May God bless all involved in advancing this issue, and man God protect them from the IRS too.

ShadrachSmith on March 20, 2014 at 6:47 PM

Re: Doomsday Book

I know it’s Domesday book, but this one will spell doom for more than one set of dead-wood government jobs.

How can a president govern, how can the Congress provide oversight when they aren’t even told what is in the government?

This is a winning issue.

ShadrachSmith on March 20, 2014 at 6:56 PM

When overbearing government converts citizens to subjects, it is the duty of the People to remove said government and return to the Founders vision.
Given this government’s propensity to ignore the plain meaning of the Constitution and it’s desire to undo Constitutional protections of the People, especially the 1st, 2nd A, and 4th A. We will retain the moral high ground by waiting for the tyrants to shoot first.
They will…look at the militarized police forces and the Federal Police Force, DHS(banned by the Constitution).
Then, all bets are off. They are outnumbered. 4th Gen Warfare will be the order of the days and months ahead.
The writers and enforcers of unconstitutional laws and their minions will find no refuge.
III

Sgt Stryker on March 20, 2014 at 7:24 PM

…by very public failure… prove him wrong.

thatsafactjack on March 20, 2014 at 6:45 PM

And to whom has this approach proved what, and to what effect? By your standard and mine, he is nonetheless an abject failure. Hey, but he’s good friends with our lying POS President, so he’s got that going for him.

Jaibones on March 20, 2014 at 7:33 PM

Jaibones on March 20, 2014 at 7:33 PM

I hope you find those antacids soon.

thatsafactjack on March 20, 2014 at 9:12 PM

It looks like we have to go back to basics: Voter education, GOTV efforts, and effective use of the media

What a maroon. The Dems have a 50 year head start at propagandizing kids in K-12 and college. They have $100M’s in union money and in-kind contributions of union workers being paid to GOTV. The Woodstock generation owns all the schools, Hollywood, the news media and the bureaucracy at all levels of government.

This f*cking war was over before the GOP even figured out the nature of the enemy’s plan. That an idiot like Obama could be elected twice shows the futility of “voter education, GOTV efforts, and effective use of the media.” Wake up, dim bulb.

Obama could mass murder 100 school children and his tracking poll numbers would go up (it would take the nation’s mind off of all his f*ck-ups, foreign and domestic). The media would either ignore it or spin it favorably.

Game, set, match, my pretties. Call out the instigator.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXfQsMi5xf0

PD Quig on March 20, 2014 at 11:00 PM

Which leads to an obvious exit question: What options are left?

Secession. These days, you have to secede in order to succeed.

Theophile on March 21, 2014 at 1:10 AM

Many are still waiting for the proposals outlined in the Grace Commission Report (1984) to go into effect.

Another Drew on March 21, 2014 at 2:44 AM

Don’t hold your breath waiting for government to reign itself in, when it is to the advantage of all in government, for it to grow.

kjatexas on March 21, 2014 at 10:32 AM