Posts Tagged ‘accountability’
December 28th, 2012 at 4:30 pm
Filibuster Reform Seems Imminent

The Hill is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has the 51 votes needed to change the upper chamber’s filibuster rules.  Historically, rules changes to Senate procedure are done with two-thirds support (currently 67 votes) in order to ensure bipartisanship.  Making the change with only 51 Senators would mean only the majority of Democrats favor the move.

An ad hoc group of Senators from both parties is trying to broker a compromise reform that would speed certain processes along – such as some judicial nominations and the amending of bills – but so far their version of reform doesn’t include the most obvious change: Actually requiring an objecting Senator to verbally filibuster.

Call me simplistic, but I think presidential nominations should get an up-or-down vote, and filibusters should be real.  There’s too much posturing in politics.  I’d much rather see politicians put their reasons on the record than suffer through another year of finger-pointing.

July 25th, 2012 at 5:55 pm
REINS Act Gets New Champion

The important reform bill, the Regulations of the Executive In Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, is getting new champion with the retirement of Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY).

From an emailed press release announcing the change:

“Todd Young is one of the hardest-working and most diligent new members of Congress.  He has enthusiastically championed the REINS Act at home and in Washington,” said Congressman Davis.  “Congress has excessively delegated its constitutional responsibility for making the law of the land to unelected bureaucrats for too long.  The REINS Act is one of the most important structural reforms to restore this accountability.  I am confident that Congressman Young will be a tireless champion for the REINS Act going forward.”

Calling Young “tireless” is a good word choice.  According to the Congressman’s official bio, he put himself through night school to get an MBA from the University of Chicago and a law degree from the University of Indiana.  Prior to that, he enlisted in the Navy en route to securing an appointment to that branch’s academy.

Young will need that doggedness to pass the REINS ACT into law.

Currently, there is no congressional oversight of bureaucratic “major rules” costing the economy $100 million a year or more in compliance costs.  The REINS Act would change that by requiring administrative agencies to submit proposed major rules to Congress for an up-or-down vote in both chambers before becoming law.  The aim is to stop rogue agencies like EPA or HHS from legislating through rulemaking what they can’t get Congress to pass through the normal lawmaking process.

What are Young’s prospects?  This year, Rep. Davis convinced the GOP-dominated House to pass the bill, but like every House reform, the REINS Act died from inaction in the Democratic Senate.  But if after the November elections the GOP can hold the House and gain the Senate with conservative reformers – or Republican incumbents scared straight by conservative primary challengers – then expect to see the REINS Act make great strides towards passage.

Our constitutional system needs Congress to get back in the game on regulation, if for no other reason than to reestablish accountability between the laws that govern us and the people we elect to pass them.

Good on Davis for picking Young to succeed him.  Now voters in the several states need to send another crop of conservative reformers to the Senate to help him out.

March 12th, 2012 at 5:11 pm
GAO Says Energy Department Lacks ‘Internal Control’ Over Loan Program

Here’s some more deservedly bad news for the Energy Department bureaucrats that brought us at least 12 multi-million dollar loser loans like the $535 million sinkhole known as Solyndra — a damning indictment from the Government Accountability Office summarized by The Hill:

The Government Accountability Office, in a new report, said it took Energy Department staff more than three months to provide data on the status of its loan guarantee applications.

“Because it took months to assemble the information required for our review, it is also clear that the [Energy Department’s loan office] could not be conducting timely oversight of the program,” the report says.

With typical understatement, the GAO also concluded that the Energy Department’s failed accounting for billions in taxpayer money “is not consistent with one of the fundamental concepts of internal control”.  Sounds like it’s time for Congress to exercise some external control to get things back to normal.

August 15th, 2011 at 5:27 pm
Obama Waives Legislative Process with New NCLB Deal

Kudos to the Heritage Foundation for drawing attention to this analysis from the Brookings Institution about President Barack Obama’s unprecedented use of the waiver process to bypass Congress and rewrite education law:

It is one thing for an administration to grant waivers to states to respond to unrealistic conditions on the ground or to allow experimentation and innovation. Similar waiver authority has been used to advance welfare and Medicaid reform going back to the Reagan administration, and to allow a few districts and states to experiment at the margins of NCLB in the Bush administration. It is quite another thing to grant state waivers conditional on compliance with a particular reform agenda that is dramatically different from existing law. The NCLB waiver authority does not grant the secretary of education the right to impose any conditions he considers appropriate on states seeking waivers, nor is there any history of such a wholesale executive branch rewrite of federal law through use of the waiver authority.

March 21st, 2011 at 12:51 pm
Missouri GOP Holding ‘Air Claire’ McCaskill’s Feet to the Fire

Forget all the media salivating for the 2012 presidential campaign.  The Missouri Republican Party is launching its first attack on Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill’s liberal use of taxpayer money.

Over the weekend, the Missouri GOP printed a full-page ad in the Springfield, MO News Leader demanding that McCaskill explain why she paid the U.S. Treasury $88,000 for flights on one of her husband’s private jets.  McCaskill continues to claim that only one of the flights was for a purely political reason (and thus ineligible for taxpayer reimbursement), yet her check covers 89 trips.

Since McCaskill’s seat is seen as a great pickup opportunity for Republicans, don’t expect the Missouri GOP to let the self-styled accountability watchdog off the leash easy.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2012 campaign cycle!

October 6th, 2010 at 1:29 pm
Tea Party-Republican Fusion Favors Grassroots

The fusion of the Tea Party and Republican Party is underway, according to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.  Of particular interest is the headway being made in Virginia where Tea Party activists are keeping Republican politicians’ feet to the fire.

Virginia’s statewide tea-party alliance is perhaps the most advanced of any in the country, both in organization and in its own interactions with the GOP.

Its convention this weekend is expected to draw the cream of the state Republican Party and at least 3,000 participants. The state’s top three Republicans—Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli—all agreed to attend and field questions, but as mere panelists, not keynote speakers.

“The party is trying to mollify the tea-party folks, if only as a protective measure,” says Mr. Cuccinelli, who rose to office last year with the support of thousands of tea-party activists.

Messrs. McDonnell and Bolling see it differently. “I am going because I am driven, and the tea-party members are driven, by the same ideas,” says Mr. McDonnell. Mr. Bolling says his message to the convention will be “that we stand with them and we appreciate their involvement in the political process.”

Several events have helped to push Virginia to the vanguard of a national tea-party movement. A huge sales-tax increase in 2004, passed with the help of Republican votes, stirred a rebellion among the party’s base and helped propel a new crop of conservatives to power last November, including Messrs. McDonnell, Bolling and Cuccinelli.

Accountability is coming to the political process.  Double-dealing politicos beware.