Boehner: Change the way Congress works

Much of the talk about what Republicans will do, now that they have a majority in the U.S. House, has focused on policy. Policy is important. But there is another element to what angered the public about their elected leaders over the past two years: How elected officials go about making policy.

If there’s any justice in the world, the line “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it” will be carved on Nancy Pelosi’s tombstone one day. That quotation came to symbolize everything the public disliked about the way Washington works. By that point, even some Americans who agreed with the basic premise of ObamaCare had become exasperated with — and therefore suspicious of — the way Democrats were ramming it through Congress.

So, it matters that the presumptive new speaker of the House, John Boehner, addressed the process of government in (what I believe to be) his first published op-ed since the election. It’s in today’s Wall Street Journal, and here is the relevant section:

[T]here are several steps I believe the next speaker should be prepared to take immediately. Among them:

• No earmarks. Earmarks have become a symbol of a broken Washington, and an entire lobbying industry has been created around them. The speaker of the House shouldn’t use the power of the office to raid the federal Treasury for pork-barrel projects. To the contrary, the speaker should be an advocate for ending the current earmark process, and should adhere to a personal no-earmarks policy that stands as an example for all members of Congress to follow.

I have maintained a no-earmarks policy throughout my time of service in Congress. I believe the House must adopt a moratorium on all earmarks as a signal of our commitment to ending business as usual in the spending process.

• Let Americans read bills before they are brought to a vote. The speaker of the House should not allow any bill to come to a vote that has not been posted publicly online for at least three days. Members of Congress and the American people must have the opportunity to read it.

Similarly, the speaker should insist that every bill include a clause citing where in the Constitution Congress is given the power to pass it. Bills that can’t pass this test shouldn’t get a vote. House Republicans’ new governing agenda, “A Pledge to America,” calls for the speaker to implement such reforms immediately.

• No more “comprehensive” bills. The next speaker should put an end to so-called comprehensive bills with thousands of pages of legislative text that make it easy to hide spending projects and job-killing policies. President Obama’s massive “stimulus” and health-care bills, written behind closed doors with minimal public scrutiny, were the last straw for many Americans. The American people are not well-served by “comprehensive,” and they are rightly suspicious of the adjective.

• No more bills written behind closed doors in the speaker’s office. Bills should be written by legislators in committee in plain public view. Issues should be advanced one at a time, and the speaker should place an emphasis on smaller, more focused legislation that is properly scrutinized, constitutionally sound, and consistent with Americans’ demand for a less-costly, less-intrusive government.

The policy will come later, but that’s an area where the GOP won’t be able to call all the shots for the next two years. If — if — Boehner and his caucus can implement these rules on themselves, they will have taken one step toward regaining public trust in Congress.

81 comments Add your comment

Jefferson

November 5th, 2010
9:57 am

Sounds good on the surface, but looks like a good way to get nothing done. Like today’s cartoon again. I guess the t-reps know their place by now.

j

November 5th, 2010
10:00 am

who cares? how is this going to create jobs? :)

j

November 5th, 2010
10:01 am

That’s right they don’t know how to create jobs or what they want to do except to reverse everything that has been done the last two years.

JDW

November 5th, 2010
10:03 am

will give him credit if he can pull off the earmark thing. It is and has long been an abomination.
The Constitution bit is window dressing:

The Constitution states:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

That is carte blanche if you can get the President to sign it and it does not impinge on a right.

barking frog

November 5th, 2010
10:11 am

Yeah, cry me a river is the way to go…

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 5th, 2010
10:14 am

Good ideas but we’ve heard this before, from both parties. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Port O'John

November 5th, 2010
10:31 am

Funniest thing I’ve read in years.

Given John Boehner’s record (passing out tobacco lobbyists checks on the house floor, etc.) this is just a bunch of pablum for the gullible right-wingers to swallow.

Like McConnell in the Senate, the only thing that matters to Boehner is beating Obama in 2012. No compromise, no way. He has a nice cushy job, great health-care and plenty of under the table perks from lobbyists. If you think Boehner or Pelosi or Reid) give a rodent’s hind-quarter about ordinary americans you are mistaken. They only care about political power and how that can help them and their lobbyist friends. The Tea-Party just handed the keys of the House of Representatives to a remarkable corrupt, self-serving politician. If you like gridlock and partisan bickering, you’ll love the next two years.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

November 5th, 2010
10:33 am

Perhaps, however, the Reps are aware the TParty will be running more candidates come 2012. That may be somewhat of a motivator. In fact, over the next decade I would hope the TParty conquers the Reps party from within.

David Shivers

November 5th, 2010
10:39 am

Transparency, no earmarks, etc., is what they’re saying. The real proof will be in they actually do

JKL2

November 5th, 2010
10:39 am

Sounds good. I know the Demwits didn’t learn anything from the last elections, but hopefully the Rebublicans figured out that you need to do what you say or you’ll be replaced.

booger

November 5th, 2010
10:43 am

j,

As many conservatives have been saying from the beginning of this late unpleasantness, it is not the government’s role to create jobs. It should be the governments role to eliminate those conditions which hinder job growth, but it has never been their role to create jobs.

I think it is very possible we will see job growth very soon as consumers and companies begin to feel more confident that there is a portion of the government which is not openly antagonistic toward them.

There is an old quote, “don’t just do something, stand there”. This may be the best advice right now.

JohnnyReb

November 5th, 2010
10:45 am

Progressives are sore losers. Their Champion, Obama, does not get it and neither do they. Tuesday’s election sent a clear message the whole world understands with the exception of Obama and his rabbid supporters. Obama continues to give inconsistent excuses avoiding the facts. Hello Barry, it’s your policies, stupid! And, Progressives make a mistake when not recognizing the resolve of Conservatives to stop Obama and repeal the harm he has done. That process has started and all they can do is spout that Republican leaders won’t do what they state. And, they claim to be the smart ones!

Halftrack

November 5th, 2010
10:46 am

The proof of the pudding is what is on the inside. We will just have to keep sipping our tea and see how things are going to be adjusted and anti-Pelosized.

BW

November 5th, 2010
10:48 am

Sounds like a recipe for California style proposition voting. Sometimes a comprehensive bill is needed for the big issues. After that use reconciliation to tinker around the edges. The problem is no one drafts a good comprehensive bill due to competing ideologies.

The tea party is going to have to show that it can govern. There are real political consequences to cutting popular spending so we’ll see what happens since the new tea party congressmen don’t run any committees.

williebkind

November 5th, 2010
10:48 am

I like it. Now the business of creating jobs can fall onto the public sector–where it belongs.

williebkind

November 5th, 2010
10:49 am

opps I meant the private sector.

BW

November 5th, 2010
10:51 am

It is not the private sector’s role to create jobs….it is to turn a profit for its shareholders PERIOD

They are not entitled to keep unemployment below 5%….it is a reality that everyone is going to have to wake up to one of these days

ml

November 5th, 2010
11:04 am

they will be the same republicans they have been for 30 years. all this election will do is make nothing happen for 2 years except fighting, hatred and put downs of the other side. then in 2 years we will get another republican president and he will do the same things as the last 3 we’ve had and the country will be in extremely bad shape in 2016. will we get it then? probably not. the dems are bad and they aren’t the answer, the republicans are worse and we should not be letting the fox run the hen house again. and creating a radically dumb and mean political party like the tea party won’t help America then either. when will people start trying to work together again for the best benefit for everyone and our country? or that’s right, we can’t work together, because that’s socialism and that’s bad. all we can do is tear the other side down with character assassination just so the side we support can win even if just by getting 51% of the vote. when we all have noticed that winning at any cost is not really winning at all but quite the opposite. we should be trying to win by 75% at least. trying to make the best decision no matter what the issue is.
remember this: since employers will eventually weasel out of more and more benefits for their employees saying ignorant and insensitive things like ‘your paycheck is your benefits’, no employer will eventually offer healthcare. and most Americans won’t be able to afford it. so most Americans won’t have any healthcare at all. we will someday have national healthcare paid for by the taxpayers. there will be no way around it. but it will be the republican party that pushes it. they will say they are doing it for families and the little children and they will call it something like ‘ the American Patriotic Family Wellness Act’ and all the conservatives will love it and support it. this is coming, maybe ten years. but when the majority of this country doesn’t have healthcare and sickness and death is a really big problem in a so-called ‘great’ country something will have to be done. and why not, it is a matter of national security to have a healthy populace. it certainly isn’t a good way to defend your country by having your citizens mostly in poor health. not a good way to try and stop another country from defeated you.
we need healthcare for all. and we can fund it by not funding others countries.
one thing I have noticed recently is all the people with bad teeth that need work.
I have never seen so such a high percentage of people in this country that need dental work. they can’t afford it. and these are good people that work hard and many of them are veterans. the situation is getting worse. something should be done.
we need a government because the option is not good.
and every government has socialism in it. everytime you have two or more people working together for a common goal you have socialism and it’s not all bad automatically.
why don’t you support the troops? I do! but isn’t a standing army a form of socialism, sure is punkin.
we need to start working together and stop using hate and ignorance to hide behind.
this country deserves better.

Adolf H.

November 5th, 2010
11:12 am

I wasn’t a Socialist you morons. I was a dictator plain and simple. sure we called ourselve’s Socialists but that was just to trick people.
bad people rarely call themselve’s what they really are or what their motives really are. silly!
remember the People’s Democratic Republic of North Vitenam?
or maybe the People’s Democratic Republic of China.
or how about the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (weren’t they really Communists?)
just like when someone calls themselve’s a Patriot when they know what they are doing is hurting the United States.

Linda

November 5th, 2010
11:12 am

The news media announced that the Reps. replaced 60 Dems. in the House of Representatives.

The Dems. announced that they had created 60 new jobs & saved 375 jobs in the House.

David B.

November 5th, 2010
11:34 am

Will Rogers once said, ‎”If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these acceptance speeches there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.”

CJ

November 5th, 2010
11:41 am

Hey Kyle,

My most recent rant is out there in cyberspace somewhere. It goes without saying that you won’t like it (I said it anyway), but will you track it down and throw it up anyway?

Thanks again.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

November 5th, 2010
11:55 am

When Obama get to India he should STAY in India.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 5th, 2010
12:13 pm

A promising start, literally; if the promises are kept, it will be an improvement over the way the House conducted business for the past eight years. I still have grave doubts about the wisdom of leaving Jerry Lewis in charge of appropriations.

Tyler Durden

November 5th, 2010
12:28 pm

Wow! Nancy Pelosi invented earmarks, vague language in bills and closed-door policy making. She’s been a VERY busy woman. Thanks God none of this happened from 2000-2006, or someone would be tempted to call John Boehner a lying sack of GOP-oop.

Kyle: if you want to build some credibility yourself, remember this post and reflect on it next spring. A line-by-line comparison of what Boehner says today versus what he actually does will reveal how honest he was in this editorial. And if you continue to give him a pass after that, you will forfeit any right or expectation to be taken as a journalist.

By virtue of taking him seriously now, you’re already off to a bad start…

scrappy

November 5th, 2010
1:03 pm

Tyler – ya beat me to it.

In 2 years when we are all voting again I would like to see how much of this has happened.

When these promises aren’t kept, I will expect those that threw out the policticans this year because they were angry with the way the gov’t was running, will be even angier, and will again vote for change.

dixiedemons

November 5th, 2010
1:16 pm

Enter your comments here

dixiedemons

November 5th, 2010
1:21 pm

J-Bo has been in Congress for 20 years . He is a major part of THE problem—– Now he has the solution ? A Palin / J-Bo ticket for president and vice president is just the medicine our country needs for “real” Americans to feel good about this country again. You guys are going to Hell.

Skeptic

November 5th, 2010
1:22 pm

And the band played on as the Titanic sank.

CJ

November 5th, 2010
1:39 pm

Post Attempt #3 (condensed)

even some Americans who agreed with the basic premise of ObamaCare had become exasperated with — and therefore suspicious of — the way Democrats were ramming it through Congress.

“Double Standard Kyle” strikes again.

Both of Bush’s major tax cuts were “rammed through Congress” or, more specifically, passed in the Senate via reconciliation. No doubt, Kyle is ready with a rationalization explaining why reconciliation is acceptable when Republicans use it and tyranny when the Dems use it.

On a similar subject and responding to Kyle’s midnight comment in the previous thread, he clearly doesn’t know what gerrymandering means: “to divide (a territorial unit) into election districts to give one political party an electoral majority in a large number of districts while concentrating the voting strength of the opposition in as few districts as possible.” He criticizes it when Democrats do it and rationalizes it as a noncontroversial fact of life when the Republicans do it.

Responding to the Kyle’s falsehood that Obama and Dems didn’t try to work with the GOP in this Congress, Obama offered and implemented many compromises to Republicans in the last couple of years (e.g., allowed the public option to die), despite mandates for the proposals that he and Democrats ran on. In addition, just the other day, Obama told the nation that he’s willing to extend the Bush tax cuts for the top two rates for two years (with no proposals whatsoever on how to cut spending to account for the lost revenue arising out of such an extension). Once again, this angered his base (including me), and it’s also a reversal of a campaign promise that helped get him elected. Republicans, pretending that Dems were not elected to the White House and the Senate majority, said no.

Consistent with Kyle’s double standards regarding reconciliation and gerrymandering, he believes that Democrats with large majorities should have reached out to Republicans more (defined as giving Republicans everything they want without getting anything in return), but House Republicans now have no obligation to do the same with Dems still in the White House and still in control of one House of Congress.

Seriously, the double standards expressed with impunity by Kyle (and the corporate media in general) are seemingly endless.

CJ

November 5th, 2010
1:41 pm

Kyle,

I’ve made three attempts to post my rant with no luck. I know it’s not a word count issue, because the post at 11:04 is bigger. There’s no vulgarity. There was only one link. What gives?

paleo-neo-Carlinist

November 5th, 2010
1:50 pm

seems to me, if you eliminate earmarks, there’s no reason for Americans to “read bills” before Congress votes. Obamacare is pork, Iraq and AfPak are pork. Section 8 is pork, TARP is pork, the stimulus bill is pork, etc., etc. I have a better idea; let the country run and only draft bills when you want to amend the Constitution, which is never.

Kyle Wingfield

November 5th, 2010
2:02 pm

Tyler @ 12:28: If you want credibility yourself, how about reading what I actually write? Nowhere did I say that Nancy Pelosi invented all the things that Boehner now wants to end. I cited one famous quotation from her and said it “came to symbolize everything the public disliked about the way Washington works.” If you can’t tell the difference, I’m afraid you’re never going to find me “credible.”

Now, on to CJ @ 1:39: First, I have no idea why your post wouldn’t publish immediately. I can’t find any trigger words that sent it to the spam filter.

As for the meat of your complaint: I understand perfectly what gerrymandering means. You refuse to read what I’ve actually written. Nowhere did I write that, going back to my example of Pennsylvania, the GOP would be justified to take a 12-7 congressional advantage and, say, turn it into a 17-2 advantage. I’ve explained myself several times on this topic and have given up getting you to acknowledge it.

The same goes for the “compromise” issue. Obama-Pelosi-Reid didn’t give up the public option to persuade Republicans; they did it to persuade their own caucus members. This is simple and obvious, and everyone without an Obama ‘08 bumper sticker seems capable of understanding it.

Kyle Wingfield

November 5th, 2010
2:18 pm

Ragnar: It goes without saying that a promise is only as good as its fulfillment. Putting the old guard back in charge of the same old committees would be just as big a mistake for the GOP as re-empowering all those Carter-era (and Ford-era…and Nixon-era…and Johnson-era…and, yes, Eisenhower-era) pols was for the Democrats.

Speaking of which: What does it say about the respective parties that Dems have twice as many congressmen who have been in Washington for 25 years or more as Republicans do (27-13)?

jconservative

November 5th, 2010
2:20 pm

I would agree with some others that the requirement to quote a clause from the Constitution is just plain silly. There is a large pack of ravenous wolves reading every bill passed and signed into law to see if it is “constitutional” – lawyers. If they think not, they grab a plaintiff off the street and file suit in Federal Court.

Please recall the Line Item Veto passed by a Republican Congress and signed by Bill Clinton. The day Clinton used the authority the large pack of ravenous wolves led by Mitch McConnell filed suit in Federal Court. The Supreme Court said “Unconstitutional”. And the “Line Item Veto” rode into the sunset never to be seen again.

I would prefer that Boehner concentrate on getting a Balanced Budget out of the House & before the Senate. AND, that balanced budget should reverse the Johnson and Reagan bills that authorized borrowing from the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds. At present those funds are simply IOUs from the US Government.

glenn

November 5th, 2010
2:31 pm

Kyle , past two years . The people have been voting anti-establishment for the last six years . Almost has a blind rage feel to it . I think Pelosi & Reid got alot of heat for reasons that are borderline incomprehensible . Mind you not a fan of either . I wish that Reid would have gotten beat by that tea party flake . Forget her name . The make lemon-aid out of rape lady . The republicans hid from her & rightfully so . I think if two other names surfaced as leaders of congress that the public could use as symbols of congressional leadership they would & will get hammered to if the economy doesn’t turn around . Congress has been unpopular for awhile now with both parties in charge . Ideology isn’t important to most Americans for better or worse . If what one calls socialism puts food on the table & allows for premium cable channels they will be cool with it .Like it or not the public expects politicians to provide them with feel good times . If not there would be no need to say its time for the government to focus on job creation & making tax cuts permanent. Have a good weekend .

Intown

November 5th, 2010
2:34 pm

Some of these process changes sound honorable. Some sound like an excuse to do nothing.

Sigh. The next 2 years in Congress are going to be a complete waste of time.

dixiedemons

November 5th, 2010
2:42 pm

“Speaking of which: What does it say about the respective parties that Dems have twice as many congressmen who have been in Washington for 25 years or more as Republicans do (27-13)? ”

It says we have 40 Congressmen that need to be sent home. They have violated the public trust long enough to qualify for pensions and lifetime health insurance. They must be hanging around to pad their pension because they sure as hell don’t work for the greater good of the American public.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

November 5th, 2010
2:56 pm

Agreed. The classes on The Constitution will do these congressional dimwits some good. Couldnt hurt for Obama to attend classes either.

Will the Dems allow Nasty Pelosi to be Minority leader? Lettuce hope not as that would be the ultimate insult if the ole battleax was busted down to a commoner.

kitty

November 5th, 2010
3:13 pm

Kyle, you aren’t really that naive to think Boehner will really do what he says, are you? He has been part of the problem for a few decades himself. Where was he when the GOP had control of Congress. Let me tell you…padding his pockets and living the lobbyist highlife. NOTHING WILL CHANGE.

duck feal

November 5th, 2010
3:15 pm

Booger: “I think it is very possible we will see job growth very soon as consumers and companies begin to feel more confident that there is a portion of the government which is not openly antagonistic toward them. ”

That is about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard on here. The Democrats passed credit card reform, healthcare reform, banking reform, student loan reform. That was antagonistic toward consumers? Neither is this administration hostile towards business. It has been trying to spark some life into the economy it inherited by pumping money into the system. Problem is the old conservative saying that you can’t kill the goose that layed the golden egg (business) cuts both ways. You can’t tap out the American consumers, that comprise two thirds of our economic activity, and expect business to get going again. We both need each other. Until Americans get back to a state of ecomonic health the economy won’t go anywhere.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

November 5th, 2010
3:22 pm

“MSNBC suspends Olbermann over political contributions”…LOLOL!!

“The Democrats passed credit card reform, healthcare reform, banking reform, student loan reform. That was antagonistic toward consumers?”

YES. All these will, in the end, cost consumers. Geesh…use that thing inside your head called a brain.

Linda

November 5th, 2010
3:24 pm

Here’s an interesting article calling for impeachment.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jul/22/the-case-for-impeachment-142967590/

It also includes a list of other articles this columnist has written.

Matti

November 5th, 2010
3:24 pm

If the Republicans in Congress actually DO their jobs, it will be a significant change. For four years, they’ve been collecting paychecks to whine about the Democrats and say, “NO effing WAY” to any and every bill sponsored by a Democrat. My Congressman has spent a lot of time at Tea Tard rallies and playing Pundit on Fox “News” in a never-ending game of Pin the Rap on the Donkey. Good for his career, perhaps, but not exactly the job description for which he’s being paid handsomely in cash and benefits far superior to what most Americans can get.

Do you think now that Boehner is in charge, we’ll actually start to SEE some of this “personal responsibility,” “accountability,” and “hard work” the Republicans are always claiming to support? MY, that WOULD be a change! Let’s hope so.

A Hearty Cheese Sauce

November 5th, 2010
3:30 pm

“Pelosi: ‘I Am Running for Democratic Leader”

Typical spoiled crybaby libs refuse to acknowledge what a crappy job they do and insist on a good beating. Hopefully the Dems will put this piece of human garbage, nasty pelosi in her place.

Ole BATTLEAX!!

duck feal

November 5th, 2010
3:34 pm

A stinkin stilten sauce: Pray tell how exactly taking the middle man out of student loans, at a great savings to consumers and the goverment, will cost the consumer? I can’t wait to hear your response.

duck feal

November 5th, 2010
3:36 pm

Why should Pelosi go away. She fights for her convictions. More power to her. I don’t recall the republicans running to the center when they got slaughtered in 2008.

Tyler Durden

November 5th, 2010
3:44 pm

Jeez, Kyle… if you’d read what I wrote, you’d notice that I was aiming my ire at Boehner’s revisionism, not your comments. But fret not: since you appear to agree with his assertion that these traits were exclusive to Democratic control of the House, you sure sound like yet another lackey carrying GOP water without any individual thought or accountability of your own.

duck feal

November 5th, 2010
3:47 pm

Linda: I couldn’t read more than a couple of lines of that crap. Are you nuts. Sounds more like a trumped up call for a good old lynching. Of course that would be par for the course, coming from the Washington Times.

duck feal

November 5th, 2010
3:52 pm

That would be the Moony Times, or more aptly the Loony Times