Tag Archives: United States Congress

Congress can learn from ancient Rome’s laws for both good and bad

Congress has gone crazy. The House of Representatives and Senate write and pass thousand-page bills with little debate and sometimes before the bill is even released. As Nancy Pelosi once said, “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

A couple of laws are often proposed to stopped these huge bills from being rushed through Congress. One proposal is to establish a waiting period for all bills. The Republicans in Congress established a three-day waiting rule on all bills, but this rule has no legal binding. The second proposal that is often heard of is to limit bills to a single item. This would make bills easier to understand and would also stop Congress from inserting unpopular items into popular bills to sneak them through Congress.

If only we had some sort of precedent to establish a waiting period and ban omnibus bills… But in fact we do. Back in ancient Rome (98 BC), the Lex Caecilia Didia established a 17-day or 24-day waiting period (there is some debate on this) between the publication of a law and voting on it in the assembly. It also banned bills that included many unrelated provisions.

Thus, about two-thousand years ago, the Romans found a solution to our current problem. Unfortunately, laws like this did not save the republic. Similarly, a law like this for America might help, but cannot solve our problem: the desire for more government.

– Michael E. Newton is the author of the highly acclaimed The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny. His newest book, Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution, was released by Eleftheria Publishing in July.

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Book Review: Tempest at Dawn makes you feel like the 56th delegate at the Constitutional Convention

Thanks to James Best’s masterpiece, Tempest at Dawn, I felt like the 56th delegate at the Constitutional Convention. Using vivid narrative and expressive dialogue, Tempest at Dawn presents all the major issues the Founding Fathers struggled with. More impressive, you get to know the character of the men who created our great nation.

Tempest at Dawn is based primarily on Madison’s notes to the Convention. Mr. Best adds to the story events that happened outside of the State House. It is a true credit to the author that it is difficult to tell where Madison’s notes end and the author’s speculations begin.

Keeping in mind that Tempest at Dawn is historical fiction, it is a must read for anybody who wants to understand the principles and efforts that went into creating the Constitution and struggles to create our nation.

Federal Reserve blames Congress and President for problems

Marketwatch reports in a story titled Fed says Congress needs better growth plan: Central bankers urge tax, regulatory reforms, pro-trade policy:

Top Federal Reserve officials on Monday said the central bank has done everything it can to help a weak U.S. economy. The rest is up to Congress and the White House.

The Fed is correct here. Not only have they “done their part,” they’ve actually done too much. Our current economic problem is not something the Fed can fix. There’s no shortage of money. There’s no credit freeze. There’s nothing the Fed can do. (So why don’t they stop their quantitative easing?)

The economic problems come from the fiscal side. High taxes and unpredictable government interference has scared away capital and risk taking. The report continues:

In separate speeches, three senior Fed executives said Washington needs to fashion better tax and regulatory policies that encourage businesses to invest in the U.S. and create jobs.

“It is absolutely imperative that the Congress and the president attack the long-run budget problems the nation faces,” St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said in a speech to Wall Street financial analysts in New York.

“The Federal Reserve cannot and should not do it alone,” he said. “Other policymakers must bear their burden and do their part to encourage more-robust economic growth and establish the conditions for stronger employment.”

In a speech Monday in San Antonio, [Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard] Fisher warned that the Fed’s credibility could be lost if global investors perceive that the U.S. is trying to inflate its way out of debt.

All three said U.S. lawmakers have to figure out ways to boost the nation’s competitiveness and develop better long-term growth policies. They urged Washington to streamline regulations, simplify the U.S. tax code and pursue more free-trade deals to open foreign markets to American goods.

Fisher said fewer businesses want to invest in the U.S. because they can get a better return on their investment in other countries.

“The remedy for what ails the economy is, in my view, in the hands of the fiscal and regulatory authorities, not the Fed,” Fisher said.

The question remains though: Who is most incompetent? The Federal Reserve? Congress? The President? They are all so totally incompetent that there is only one way out of this mess: the government, that is all three of the above, has to get out of the way. Stop interfering in the economy. Reduce taxes. Reduce spending and return a large portion of the economy back to the free-enterprise system. The economy will not thrive until they do so.

NOV 2 Prediction. A Republican tsunami! My official election prediction for the House of Representatives.

It’s election day and I am assuming there won’t be any more polls coming out. So now it is time to make my final election prediction for the House of Representatives. For those who have not been watching, this is not my first prediction.

Here is my prediction from October 22. GOP gain of 61 seats.

Here is my prediction from October 24. GOP gains 78 seats.

Here is my October 29 prediction. GOP gains 72 seats.

First a review of how I make my prediction.

I simply take the RCP average of Generic Congressional Vote as my baseline. I adjust their vote totals to assume the GOP and Dems receive 100% of the vote (ie. no third parties win any seats). Then, I have three models to convert vote totals to House seats.

40-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 1968.

8-year model: Regression of House seats vs. vote total for every election since 2002. Because of the increase in partisanship and computerized gerrymandering, there are now many more safe seats.

1994 & 2006 model: In these two mid-term elections, control of the House switched sides against an unpopular President. The same will likely occur this year.

The models produce the following results:

40-year model: Republicans win 268 House seats, gain of 90 seats.

8-year model: Republicans win 247 House seats, gain of 69 seats.

1994 & 2006 model: Republicans win 253 House seats, gain of 75 seats.

Taking a simple average of the three, I now predict the Republicans will win 256 House seats, a gain of 78 seats.

Possible new gold disclosure rules. Hurting you in the name of consumer protection.

With gold hitting record highs, it is obviously time for Congress to do something stupid. Seeking Alpha reports:

A press release from Rep. Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, not yet (as of this instant) posted on Mr. Weiner’s Web site, announces that a September 23 hearing of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection (a subcommittee of Rep. Henry Waxman’s Commerce Committee) will focus on “legislation that would regulate gold-selling companies, an industry who’s [sic] relentless advertising is now staple of cable television.”

From the press release: “Under Rep. Weiner’s bill, companies like Goldline would be required to disclose the reasonable resale value of items being sold.” That’s great. Are Mr. Weiner and Chairman Bernanke also going to agree to print on every dollar the reasonable expectation that its value will be eroded by inflation?

Why don’t they require all companies selling goods to disclose the resale value? The second you drive off the lot with a new car, the value drops by about 20 percent. Why isn’t that disclosed? Of course, the goal here is not disclosure. It’s to put these companies out of business. It would be impossible for a company like Goldline to disclose the resale value in its commercial because the value is constantly changing. Is Congress too stupid to know that or so manipulative as to pretend they are looking out for consumers?