Tue, Oct. 15

Letter: Congressional bait ‘n’ switch an insult to American people


I, for one, am sick and tired of the bait ‘n’ switch that infects much of the legislation proposed in Congress. I’m also tired of how that system is used to over-characterize or/and mis-characterize the votes of our representatives in the House and Senate.

In too many ways than one, it’s federal horse trading...with worn out saddles and degraded spurs negotiated in exchange for an otherwise desired steed.

To get A and B, let’s say, a Senator or Representative must choke hard to vote yea for a bill that includes C and D. It’s a sphincter-puckering vote, yes. But it’s the only way to get A and B passed. However, come election time, the Congressperson’s vote for C and D is foremost in his or her competitor’s campaign, while A and B are ignored. That is just not fair.

I want a constitutional amendment that says that any bill before the House or Senate may only be focused on the primary substance of the bill. If you want to fund the building of a bridge, then that’s it. You may not include any riders that provide funding for a golf course, a moose path, or the testing of how fast a shrimp can run on a treadmill. Enough, already.

You want to fund the legwork of the shrimp? Great. Go for it. But don’t bury that in a panoply of other unrelated allocations. Stand up and say that the motility of a shrimp is important. Then let the voters decide...but limit the decision making – and budget spending -- process to the single issue, in this case being the testing of shrimp.

Years ago, budgetary allocations from Congress included multi-thousand dollars to study the sweat of Australian aborigines and to learn why college students like to play Frisbee. I’m not kidding! And it’s been far worse than that. Your tax dollars at work.

The true pain, though, is that members of our Legislative Branch have to gulp hard to vote for a bill that will help serve The People but that will also include “uncomfortable” allocations ... and then in re-election time they get nailed for C&D and not the reluctantly traded-off benefits for A&B. And this applies to Left and Right alike.

Much has been said about government transparency. But let’s be transparent and specific about what goes on in Congress. I’ve had it with Congressional bills that purport to be about home delivery pizza but are rife with additions that guarantee new car loans and free haircuts.

Michael Westlund


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