We Know What You Are -- Now We Are Haggling Over the Price

I predicted the climate bill would likely pass the House as Obama and Co.  would happily pull out the checkbook to spend taxpayer money to bribe Representatives to pass his legislative agenda.   I wrote:

I am again hearing rumblings that the climate bill may pass the House.  If so, it will be interesting to see what last minute bribes were added to make this happen.  The most recent bribe we know about is the commitment to pay farmers not to grow crops with the weak window dressing that this is somehow a carbon offset.

The Washington Times reports on one such payoff:

When House Democratic leaders were rounding up votes Friday for the massive climate-change bill, they paid special attention to their colleagues from Ohio who remained stubbornly undecided.

They finally secured the vote of one Ohioan, veteran Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, the old-fashioned way. They gave her what she wanted "“ a new federal power authority, similar to Washington state's Bonneville Power Administration, stocked with up to $3.5 billion in taxpayer money available for lending to renewable energy and economic development projects in Ohio and other Midwestern states.

This is part of that mysterious 310-page ammendment that was revealed just hours before the vote.


  1. Esox Lucius:

    In light of your last post on warning labels for products about subsidies, and because of reading this post, I would like to suggest another "Good Idea". I suggest that before every vote for every bill in congress that there is an web based multiple choice test (say, 100 questions) regarding what is and what is not in the bill. They can be multiple choice or true false (or both). If you can't answer with at least a 70% correct rate, you don't get to vote. Period.

    So it would look something like this:

    This bill holds a provision for a Power Administration for Midwest Renewable Energy Projects. How many dollars are set aside for this provision?

    a. 500M
    b. 1.2B
    c. 3.5
    d. None of the above

    Think about the possiblities for our democracy if our congressmen had to actually read the bills...

  2. Jim Collins:

    Let's make it an open book test, with a 60 minute time limit. That way we know that at least some of them will have read some part of the bill.

    Now for the hard part. Who writes the test?

  3. Sluggo:

    Jim and Esox,
    Your open hearted simplicity is touching and heart breaking.

    Any city counselman who couldn't game any such test is a certified one-termer. Offer them an opportunity to prove their honesty by cheating? Hell, yes.

  4. Scott:

    Up the complexity of the idea. As is, do you really think the entire house wouldn't score a perfect 100 every time?

    Off load the question generating to no less than 3 different "non-partisan" groups, the more the better, give each group some reasonable amount of time to digest and generate a set minimum number of questions with no maximum. Each group also casts a vote as to the complexity of the bill.

    All the questions get thrown into one large pot.

    Each Representative must take the "quiz" in person and in public (probably at their seat on the floor, but they can't designate someone to take it for them), depending on the average complexity of the bill, as determined by the question generating groups, get a random set of questions from the pool ranging in number from say 15 to 50.

    The "quiz" will restrict the Representative to answering only one question at a time, with no ability to return to modify a previous question and no way of knowing the next question to come. The "quiz" must also be finished in one sitting, though there is no overall time limit.

  5. Brucio:

    Fail. Those selfsame representatives would have to sign off on such a scheme. No way in hell are they going to enact something that brings more transparency to the legislative process, unless those represented are at the door with knives and pitchforks. It's nice to dream, though.

  6. Scott:

    True. Unfortunately our setup of having the only people who can set the guidelines of our elected officials be the self-same elected officials is asinine.

  7. Mesa Econoguy:

    I’d be happy to enjoin Ms. Kaptur in a securities fraud suit if this monstrosity passes the Senate….

  8. Craig:

    It's probably unconstitutional, but one should have to pass a similar test to enter the voting booth.

  9. Scott:

    Craig, I don't think you should have to pass a test to enter the voting booth. Everyone should have the right to vote.

    However... I think that you should be voting from a terminal that gives the voter information on the initiative and person that they are voting on... and that maybe they should be able to pass a small content test before being able to vote on that specific initiative or person. So at least we know that they have some clue what they were aware somewhat of what they were voting on.

  10. Jeff S.:

    One issue that idea might create is that there might only be one person who would be able to pass such a test (likely, the drafter of the bill). The person who knows the most about the bill is also the one most likely to vote for its approval. It would also lead to drafters making the bills even more inscrutable, ensuring that they will be the only ones who will be able to vote on it and guaranteeing its passage.

    Other representatives might see some section that they find unseemly (say, $300 billion for nationwide Taco Tuesdays), and be prepare to vote against it based purely on that. In that instance, they might not care what's in the rest of the bill; that one provision is enough to sink it for them. I don't think there is anything wrong with allowing them to vote against a bill for that reason.

    If you amend your proposal to say that you can only vote FOR a bill if you pass the quiz, but can vote AGAINST it no matter what, I'd be up for that. An alternative is to only allow quiz-passers to vote, but to require a quorum of quiz-passers. If a quorum cannot be attained, the bill automatically fails.

  11. Scott:

    Easy fix. Require that a bill gets a minimum percentage of votes out of the number voters who actually showed up to vote.

    If no one can understand a bill then it doesn't deserve to become law.