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Who’s Writing These Bills Anyway?

Who's Writing These Bills Anyway?WASHINGTON: When you were a kid, do you remember watching the animated School House Rock video, “I’m Just a Bill” and having that reassuring feeling that the legislative process was transparent and straightforward?

Me? Well perhaps it was the catchy tune and the vocally gifted piece of parchment paper begging for my sympathy (after all the bill just wanted to be signed), I felt at ease that those writing the bills were honorable citizens and disinterested legislators.

Now, a few years later amidst the cloudy and uncertain debate of health care, my mind is catapulted back to the elementary depiction of our government at work, and one question stands forefront in my mind. Who are the people that are writing the health care bill? Ordinary citizens? Unbiased legislators? As it turns out, the beloved cartoon of American educators everywhere failed to depict the true scribes of many of our laws.

According to a U.S. House of Representatives publication entitled “How Our Laws Are Made”, the source of legislation originates from diverse quarters. The source may come from constituents, representatives, the Presidents administration, and citizen groups, among others. But one source that is not mentioned are special interest groups.

Many special interest groups are composed of unions, political think tanks and conglomerates of like-minded corporations. Where as others, like the National Rifle Association (NRA) or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) represent grass root citizens who seek protection of certain rights or promotion of single issues. These groups write legislation that is then presented to congressmen and senators, who then introduce it in their respective chamber. Note, I have no real objection to proposals these groups may write, and, in turn serve as a basis or a starting point for legislation. The reason being that these organizations are acutely aware of the issues, and regardless of your political leanings, it is likely that at some point, legislation that you yourself supported originated or was supported by a special interest group.

What I do object to is the commandeering of the legislative process by these groups. Take for instance the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. As part of the $787 billion stimulus package, the act doles out billions to clean energy and green-collar job programs. Who wrote this piece of legislation? You guessed it, a special interest group, in particular the Apollo Alliance.

What exactly is the Apollo Alliance? Well, according to it’s website, the Apollo Alliance is a coalition of labor, business, environmental, and community leaders who seek to revolutionize America’s energy sector. Apollo’s goals are clean energy, green-collar jobs, and the reduction of carbon emissions. And did I mention that the Apollo Alliance is funded by the progressive George Soros?

So what’s the big deal you might say? Even if a special interest group writes a bill, it still has to go through a committee, a floor vote by both houses, and be signed by the President. This provides ample opportunity for senators and congressmen to read and debate the bill before it is sent to the President, and the President can always veto the bill. Right?

Well… the problem is this. While in committee, the bill is shaped with the help of special interest groups, like the Apollo Alliance, Acorn and SEIU, rather than by those most affected by the proposed bill. Next, when the bill comes to the house floor, Congress is voting on the bill without ever having read it. Don’t believe me? Ask Rep. John Conyers who recently said “What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”. And as for the President, he has stated that when considering subjects like the environment and health care, he seeks the help of special interest groups like Acorn, SEIU, and the Apollo Alliance.

So again I pose the question, exactly who is writing the health care legislation? The answer is, outside of a tight circle of legislators and the Obama administration, no one is really sure. Thus we are left to rely upon the Presidents promise that it is the Apollo Alliance, SEIU and the like who are directing the work, and this should cause you and me concern.

The legislative process as we understood it has been usurped by narrow minded organizations whose political objective is to consolidate power. Perhaps it is time that the School House Rock Classic is updated. Except in this version, the vocal little bill will be led hand-in-hand by baseball bat wielding union thugs who shepherd the defenseless little bill from house to house until it reaches the Presidents desk. What do you think?

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  1. October 19th, 2009 at 12:59 | #1

    Why aren’t more people asking this question? Great job on trying to provide the answers, Eric.

    John Conyers’ statement probably should be taken as indicative of the prevailing practice in Congress, rather than an indictment of his service. Obama was elected in part because he pledged a new era of transparency, but it is apparent now that his promises were just campaign rhetoric. Anyone seriously investigating his background would have called his bluff at the ballot box last November.

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