There are times and places for big combo packages. Personally, I like up to five different toppings on a pizza and I certainly don’t mind saving a few bucks in the process. Feel free to offer me a living room set with a discounted price for the sofa, love seat and recliner which is less than the sum of the pieces sold individually. One place where we do not need a package deal, however, is in the construction of massive conglomerations of legislation which get shoveled through Congress and onto the President’s desk when it is unlikely in the extreme that any of them have even read the entire thing.
We have been told repeatedly that we need comprehensive tax reform. Obamacare was the shining example of comprehensive health care reform and it remains mired in controversy and implementation problems. And now we are being assured that Barack Obama would never have whipped out his pen to sign off on executive amnesty had our elected legislators only passed some form of comprehensive immigration reform.
This is not only an ill advised approach to governance, but a destructive one.
I want the tax code to be revamped… perhaps replaced with something entirely new. I’m not sure about the best path to take until we see some concrete plans. But no machine of such a complex nature needs to have each and every one of its gears tinkered with during the same adjustment. If we are to revamp and improve the existing tax code, it can be done in pieces. Some may find broad bipartisan support and quickly attract enough votes to pass. Others may be more contentious and require extensive debate and public education. But it is easier for everyone, from the layman on the street to the confused House member in their offices, to examine the individual elements and judge them on their merits.
The same argument applies to health care. I’ve never argued that our health care and insurance system was perfect. Far from it, in fact. But all the pieces inside of Obamacare could have been looked at individually and offered up to the public for their judgement. Some were clearly popular. Others were atrocious. Each should have stood against the wheel to pass or fail on their own merits.
The most common arguments we hear against this sound like the language of surrender. The typical line of thought states that massive, complicated systems such as these can not survive being dissected into their component parts. We have to take the medicine along with the sugar, we are told, or we’ll all wind up trying to survive on only sweets. I’d prefer to have a bit more faith in the public, even if they stumble a few times in the course of a lengthy process. The members of Congress should all be adult enough to understand these things as well, assuming they are in any way fit to hold their office. And when making your case in situations such as this, it’s part of the difficult job of creating legislation and winning support for it to be able to convey the importance of it all.
The same thing applies to immigration reform. There is much that could be done to improve the situation, but there is absolutely no reason we should be told that you can’t improve border security without standing down the efforts of ICE to locate and remove criminals. Quotas can be examined and adjusted, priorities for who should or should not be allowed entry and other factors can each be weighed in their own right without also being told that concerns over illegals in the community are racist nonsense.
When you jam too many ingredients into a massive, toxic stew, the resulting meal will not be to anyone’s liking. We need to steer away from this course of “comprehensive” legislation and demand that lawmakers create specific bills to address specific problems. Those with merit will pass. The rest were, in all likelihood, neither needed nor desired.