Bills should be required reading


That Congress doesn’t work to serve our best interest is not news.  Major legislation, including the $787 billion “stimulus” porker and the cap-and-trade energy tax legislation are essentially written by Democrats in leadership positions and then popped onto the floor for quick votes.  As a result, almost nobody knows what’s in them until after the deed is done.

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrat Brian Baird of Washington State and Republican John Culberson of Texas, have introduced a resolution to require non-emergency legislation to be posted on the Internet 72 hours in advance of a floor vote.  A number of good-government interest groups, including Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based organization created in 2006 to promote transparency in government, are pushing the effort.  A conservative group, Let Freedom Ring, is attempting to extract a promise from members of Congress that they won’t vote on health care legislation until they’ve read it.  

This is a campaign every American should join. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’ll give members 48 hours to read bills. Arcane legislation that hasn’t been fully aired in committee hearings requires more.  Pelosi knows, however, that if voters know what’s in crammed-down, railroad-through legislation that opposition will develop.

Three days is hardly any time to examine hugely consequential legislation.  But if it is made available to the nation on the Internet 72 hours in advance of the vote, an army of individual experts will find and signal its sweetheart provisions as well as its flaws.

Ah, now we see.  The last thing Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid want is transparency.

71 comments Add your comment

Truth Seeker

July 7th, 2009
7:56 am

Good Mornig,

Jim you had an execellent chance to make a valid argument for open government, and you choose to blow it by taking a cheap shot at Pelosi and Reid. The failure of congress to allow time for the public to get familiar with proposed legislation is not confined to the left, and you know it… Bush and Cheney did everything they could to cloak thier agenda in secrecy but now you want to hang that lable on those in power on the left. Don’t do it. This is a real issue that both sides of the asile need to be better at and hacks like you cheapen the argument when you make it partisian. Grow upa nd stop playing the blame game like a 6 year old. Be better than that.

Road Scholar

July 7th, 2009
8:04 am

Adequate time to review changes in any proposed legislation is needed. But Jim, your assumption is that any edited change must be hunted down by reading the whole legislation each time from beginning to end. There are computer programs that highlight changes within a text. There are also programs that can compare two versions of material as to similarities and differences. So, if changes are made they can be reviewed quickly assuming the reader has an awareness of what was previously included in a bill.

You, as well as many citizens appear to not acknowledge this capability to review documents. Also keep in mind that elected officials have staff and there are employees in agencies who read legislation, and they can make reccomendations to elected officials as to the legislation’s accuracy and content.


July 7th, 2009
8:47 am

Needed. But don’t be a hack. It was needed when Republicans held majorities, too. This from a guy who has voted Republican far more often than not over 30 years.

Tricky D

July 7th, 2009
9:16 am

All of Wooten’s diatribes about transparency and reading bills before they’re voted on began 1/20/09. Ask him has he had the chance to find out who wrote Cheney’s energy bill. Either you argue openness and transparency for both sides or stfu.

Get Real

July 7th, 2009
9:19 am

No Barracuda Palin stories Wooten? I expected to read some story about how her quitting as governor would set her up for the 2012 election. But even you can’t turn that lemon into lemonade.


July 7th, 2009
9:21 am

Personally, I’m hoping Palin will do a spread for 40-plus magazine. That, or Older and Bolder.


July 7th, 2009
9:27 am

Jim Wooten, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Sept. 3, 2008:

“Republicans want a fighter. I do believe they have one in Gov. Sarah Palin.”

Clear-eyed judge of character there, Jimbo.


July 7th, 2009
9:28 am

Best quote from the recent Runner’s World interview with Bailin Palin:

I betcha I’d have more endurance. My one claim to fame in my own little internal running circle is a sub-four marathon. It wasn’t necessarily a good running time, but it proves I have the endurance within me to at least gut it out and that is something. If you ever talk to my old coaches, they’d tell you, too. What I lacked in physical strength or skill I made up for in determination and endurance. So if it were a long race that required a lot of endurance, I’d win.

Yeah, determination and endurance. That’s the ticket. Also.


July 7th, 2009
9:34 am

Okay, a primer on journalistic cowardice on display at the Wooten joint today.

Now, despite the 800 pound Gorilla from Wasilla sitting in the parlor, Jim turns his steely gaze to a topic that nobody could really disagree with — the idea of placing all proposed legislation online to allow public inspection. A salutary notion to which none could object. In other words, a thumbsucker of a column.

However, by turning the column into a bash on Pelosi/Reid, Wooten amplifies his cowardice by implying that the GOP under Bush was a paragon of openness and sunlight, never obfuscating, never hiding behind executive orders and signing statements, never ramming through legislation without clarifying the particulars. Indeed, in Wooten’s increasingly sclerotic mind, the Bush Administration was basically a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood of good governance.

Good God, Jim. At long last, as your faculties dwindle and you sink into the sunset of senescence, have you no shame? Stop your pathetic hackery and answer to your epic failure as regards the disaster from alasker.


July 7th, 2009
9:41 am

Jim, I totally agree with requiring some type of transparency on legislation. There was a day when the committee system took hours of “testimony” from invited “experts” to testify re pending legislation.
Both the majority & minority invited their selected experts. That system served to provide some type of transparency, in particular, after the advent of CSPAN. Even working stiffs like me could catch replays of committee work during the evening hours.

Alas, that system was stopped when Gingrich became Speaker. That same session the Senate adopted the same policy (to a lesser degree than the House).
So, what little transparency we has disappeared.

Watch the Sotomayor hearings next week. There was a time when every major piece of legislation got the same treatment.

Ga Values

July 7th, 2009
9:50 am

Saxby Chambliss (Socialist, Ga.) has been piling Ethanol earmarks into the cap & trade rip off. We know he is doing it what difference is posting it on the internet. Saxby Chambliss the gift thet keeps giving for the LOBBYIST.


July 7th, 2009
9:52 am


Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 7th, 2009
9:55 am

Sergey Aleynikov was a computer programmer at Goldman Sachs, whose
prowess in trading has long made it the envy of Wall Street.

But over five days in early June, the authorities say, he stole
proprietary, “black box” computer programs that Goldman uses to make
lucrative, rapid-fire trades in the financial markets. Experts say
their value could be incalculable, The New York Times’s Graham Bowley

After being arrested by federal agents Friday evening, Mr. Aleynikov
has pleaded not guilty to charges of theft of trade secrets and
transporting them abroad. He has since met the terms of his $750,000
bail and was released Monday, FBI spokesman James Margolin told

The case, as detailed in a federal complaint filed in court in the
Southern District of New York, throws a spotlight on the
multimillion-dollar technology that is increasingly employed by the
world’s biggest banks to gain an edge in financial markets.

Asked about Mr. Aleynikov by The Star-Ledger of New Jersey, a Rutgers
University professor called him “one of the brightest students I ever
worked with” as well as “an excellent competitive ballroom dancer.”

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 7th, 2009
9:57 am

Fiat announced a 50-50 joint venture Monday with the Guangzhou
Automobile Group to make cars and engines for the Chinese market.

Road Scholar

July 7th, 2009
9:57 am

jconservative: You mean that average Americans watch C-Span? I thought that they wanted cliff note versions of everything since they have the attention span of a dog! If it isn’t special effects and shot-em-up, do they watch? Comprehend? Get them beyond the slick sensationalism of talk radio or faux news, they are lost!


July 7th, 2009
9:58 am

Mr. Wooten, what Truth Seeker said. You had credibility today until your partisan cheap shot in the last sentence. I have long been appalled that our Congressmen rarely read the full content of the bills on which they vote. Patriot Act, anyone? Seriously, this should be a “common ground” issue in which we ALL hold our representatives more accountable for their votes, regardless of party. But you don’t really care about that, do you Mr. Wooten?

Ironic how you prove yourself to be exactly what you revile in Pelosi and Reid, don’t you think?

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 7th, 2009
9:59 am

Discover Financial Services says it will sell $500 million of common
stock and use the proceeds for investments or to buy back preferred
stock issued to the U.S. Treasury under its bank rescue plan.

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 7th, 2009
10:01 am

Harley-Davidson, Honda Motor and Bank of America are leading about $9.5
billion of debt offerings for the Federal Reserve’s program to
encourage lending, Bloomberg News reported.

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 7th, 2009
10:02 am

Maurice R. Greenberg, ex-chief of A.I.G., heard himself described as
either a brazen liar or a law-abiding businessman as lawyers made their
closing arguments in a trial that accused Mr. Greenberg of looting a
retirement plan for top A.I.G. employees.

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 7th, 2009
10:03 am

Lear, the auto parts and car seat maker, filed for bankruptcy Tuesday
along with its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries after winning the
necessary support from its creditors.

Big Bucks GOP doing the Lords work

July 7th, 2009
10:04 am

Axa, Allianz and American International Group lead a group of airline
insurers set to post the biggest monthly losses since September 2001,
which may force them to raise prices to bolster reserves.


July 7th, 2009
10:23 am

Take a partisan cheap shot any time you want to Jim.We’re talking Pelosi,Reid here as a target.You are the conservative columnist.

Government needs transparency in the bills it passes to spend the people’s future.All the bills,all the time.72 hours isn’t a lot of time to debate anything as large as a health care bill or a stimulus package worth multiple billions.


July 7th, 2009
10:31 am

Yes there was Zero Transparency during the last administration………….” Mission Accomplished “……….So I guess when the shoe is on the other foot, time to get upset !


July 7th, 2009
10:32 am


Jim what did we ever learn about the Dick Cheney Energy Meetings ?


July 7th, 2009
10:34 am

Well, Clyde, I guess if cheap is all you got, that’s all you can give, huh? Can’t get deep water from a shallow pool. Too bad you value cheap shots over the best common interests of Americans. Personally, I don’t care much for Pelosi or Reid either, but scapegoating everything on them while ignoring the big picture is about as useful as spraying the mosquitoes on your front stoop while ignoring the standing water in your back yard.

But hey, if it makes you feel better, keep applauding mindless squawking, and that’s what you’ll continue to get.


July 7th, 2009
10:42 am

Thanks, Jim Wooten, for reminding us that transparency is need. Reading that healthcre bill in 48 hours would be a constant two day reading of voluminous thrown together info.

You are absolutely correct in assuming that Pelosi does not want representatives to read this bill.. But Congress better. When Americans find what might be foisted upon them at great expense and little expertise they will be plenty angry. Pelosi knows that and she is cramming it through, hoping to make it before the sun rises..

This is a hoodwink Demo led Congress so we can expect every old political trick in the book. Pelosi knows all of them and is rightfully designated as the petty pusher of politics.

Keep up the good work, Jim. We depend on you for the truth (and nothing but the truth!)


July 7th, 2009
10:46 am

In case you haven’t noticed,politics consists of cheap shots,one liners and everyone’s religious views.The days of actual issues deciding elections has gone past.In the meantime I don’t mind a little scapegoating.It gives us something to do betwixt the hours of the dark and the daylight.


July 7th, 2009
11:03 am


Very good and timely piece. Much of what has been passed to date in this admin. could never had passed if there had been ample airing to the public. Since we no longer have a credible press bring issues forward, we often must rely on our own reps. to do so.

As for Cheney’s energy meetings, they were about as transparent as Obama’s recent meetings with coal executives. Obama would not disclose who attended, or topics discussed to protect their privacy. I think it’s fair for Obama and for Cheney. In fact, I was happy to see Obama talking to someone who knew what they were talking about, rather than a lawyer or politician, even though he has shown his contempt for all things business.


July 7th, 2009
11:19 am

Clyde, fair enough. How you spend those hours is still (as far as I’m concerned) your choice. That you’d rather NOT be part of the solution… well again, your choice.


July 7th, 2009
11:29 am

Never gonna happen.

Hillbilly Deluxe

July 7th, 2009
11:34 am

I like this idea although I still think 95% of the Congressmen won’t read the bills. It would at least give the people a chance to read them if they choose to.


July 7th, 2009
11:37 am


You, a liberal, want to come to a conservative blog and start complaining about conservative comments? Did you miss the “nice” ones from liberals here today? Have you forgotten the eight years of virulence poured on President Bush by liberals?

You better get your own house straight before you start telling others how to do it.


July 7th, 2009
11:42 am

A perfect example of a lack of transparency is the Repubs and their talking points relative to “socialism.”

When the topic of health care is raised the Repubs usually add the pejorative “socialism” to the sentence. One has to wonder how this pejorative is applied to public education, public schools, public transportation, mass transportation, housing, Social Security and on and on and on?


July 7th, 2009
11:45 am

Dusty, what the flip are you talking about? I’m an American. I’m FOR reading the bills before voting on them — something BOTH parties have failed to do. I reject your labels as being part of the problem, not the solution. Idea: Let’s ALL start holding our representatives accountable instead of attacking one party and giving a free pass to the other. Maybe then we’ll get something useful out of them for a chance. Hello? Are you really THAT shallow that you can’t see (or fling) anything but labels?

Whackjob Wasilla & Whackjob Pubbys

July 7th, 2009
11:55 am

Bills should be required reading for Jim Wooten who has never read one he’s commented on in his life. And it’s very obvious.

Whackjob Wasilla & Whackjob Pubbys

July 7th, 2009
12:03 pm

July 7, 2009
LettersPalin’s Fireworks on the Third of July To the Editor:

Re “Palin Resigning Governor’s Job; Future Unclear” (front page, July 4):

If it had not been for the wisdom of the electorate and a bit of luck, the inept and rambling Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska could have been our nation’s second-in-command to the septuagenarian Senator John McCain and a single heartbeat away from assuming the presidency.

Arthur L. Yeager
Edison, N.J., July 5, 2009

To the Editor:

Sarah Palin’s loopy and incoherent explanations for the clearly self-serving decision to quit the governor’s job highlight all her flaws as a political figure and even manage to add a new one. We now know that when things get tough, or maybe just boring, Sarah Palin quits.

Janice Gewirtz
Mountain Lakes, N.J., July 4, 2009

To the Editor:

Taking Sarah Palin at her word for the moment, she seems to be telling us that she believes she can accomplish nothing in the final year and a half of her term. In other words, she admits that she is incapable of exercising leadership for even one full term as governor of a thinly populated state hitherto more economically advantaged than nearly any other.

It will be interesting to see her supporters try to explain how abandoning her duties and shirking her job qualifies her for higher office.

Mitchell Zimmerman
Palo Alto, Calif., July 4, 2009
To the Editor:

Re “Palin and Her Enemies” (column, July 6):

Ross Douthat shrewdly analyzes the mistake Sarah Palin made in saying yes to John McCain’s invitation to join his ticket. But the overall tenor of Mr. Douthat’s column strongly suggests that what did her in was elitist classism.

I disagree. Her greatest strength on Mr. McCain’s ticket was her direct appeal, in her own words, to “Joe Sixpack.”

It was not, as Mr. Douthat suggests, her lack of an Ivy League degree that derailed her; it was her own obvious lack of knowledge, and contemptuous attitude toward answering legitimate political questions in depth, coupled with her own exploitation of xenophobic patriotism.

Linda Charnes
Bloomington, Ind., July 6, 2009

To the Editor:

Regarding Ross Douthat’s column: My dislike of Sarah Palin has nothing to do with her sex or class. It has everything to do with her policies, her anti-intellectualism and her contempt for me.

Her remarks stating that because my political views are different from hers and suggesting that because I live on the East Coast I’m not a real American are offensive, to say the least. I work hard. I pay my taxes. And the America I believe in is tolerant of our differences.

If that makes me un-American, so were our founding fathers.

Kenneth J. Davis
Scotch Plains, N.J., July 6, 2009

To the Editor:

Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd can poke fun at Sarah Palin all they want (“Sarah’s Straight Talk,” column, July 4, and “Now, Sarah’s Folly,” column, July 5), but I begin each day with a silent, heartfelt “thank you!” to the soon-to-be former governor of Alaska.

If not for her breathtaking ignorance, which she refreshingly coupled with soaring arrogance, and if not for her coldblooded disdain for the lives of wolves, moose and polar bears, Barack Obama might not have won the presidency.

America and indeed the world are infinitely indebted to her. Thank you, Sarah Palin, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Jim Krieger
Fort Lee, N.J., July 5, 2009

To the Editor:

Gail Collins, commenting on Sarah Palin’s rambling resignation, asks: “People, what is going on with governors in this country? Are we doomed to see them go bonkers one by one, state by state?”

With the Republican Party in disarray, those who have achieved the office of governor by espousing the rhetoric of social and/or fiscal conservatism without themselves having a core sense of public responsibility are beginning to show the shallowness of their political/philosophical credentials (without the party discipline to “keep them in line”).

Perhaps their constituents will now pay more attention to the serious problems we face as a country and choose to vote for perhaps less ideologically driven candidates who can articulate real solutions to our problems.

Evelyn Chorush
Houston, July 4, 2009


July 7th, 2009
12:07 pm

Dusty, You are a hypocrite …You say

“You, a liberal, want to come to a conservative blog and start complaining about conservative comments?”

I ask how many times are you at Jay Bookmans liberal blog complaining about his slant on views?



July 7th, 2009
12:11 pm

JLK: When DUSTY gets you in her sights, you’d better run dude…Jus’ sayin’
Dusty, still on your stump, I see…guess I’ll go home now…jus’ wavin’


July 7th, 2009
12:16 pm

Dear Jim, here is a question that I dare you to answer, What is the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? I’ll answer it for you because I am not looking for Republican talking points. The difference Jim is, they occupy opposite sides of the isle of the Capitol. That is the only difference. Your article is not even good enough to make any Georgia high school newspaper (sorry GA high schools, I don’t mean to demean your literary efforts).

Whackjob Fishin' and Quittin' at Bristol Bay

July 7th, 2009
12:21 pm

Congratulations to our excellent new Senator Al Franken.

Billy Bob

July 7th, 2009
12:44 pm

Enter your comments here

david wayne osedach

July 7th, 2009
12:49 pm

These bills should be “available” for reading. Not “required” reading.

Billy Bob

July 7th, 2009
12:50 pm


For all the commentary by Democrats on the NEED for healthcare reform in this country, it’s awfully interesting to hear Canadians talk about the extended wait-times and lack of access to specialists they ENDURE.



July 7th, 2009
12:56 pm

dwo @12:49 pm,
Aren’t the bills already available to read? Just curious.


July 7th, 2009
12:57 pm

What a stupid idea, read what they are voting on, how idiotic. Why would we require these people who control our money, and they steal it from your paycheck before you even see it, to read anything? Do they even know how to read? It is a shame that we even are having this discussion; they should ALL read ALL of the bills put before them. If they are not reading them what are we paying them for? Since our government does not know how to read what ever happened to “We will post every bill on the internet for 5 days before we vote” I guess it was just another lie, ooppss I mean “mis-speak”.


July 7th, 2009
1:01 pm

What kinda bills we talkin’ ’bout, Jim? The bills WE’re expected to pay?

This is a great idea but I don’t know how we could be sure they’d read them or that we would even get to see “the bill” in it’s entirety.

I have become very cynical, I have.

Billy Bob

July 7th, 2009
1:02 pm

All bills should be published on a public website hosted on a federal government server of COMPETENT ability (sufficient bandwidth) for viewing and download AT LEAST three days before coming to a floor vote.

Put it in the House and Senate rules.

Whackjob Fishin' and Quittin' at Bristol Bay

July 7th, 2009
1:09 pm

LOL upon LOL. Palin has just demonstrated her enormous stupidity and lack of grasp of the executive branch of US government. This comment that the DOJ would defend her from articles she doesn’t like about her if she were president is clearly the most moronic concept an adult could have of the DOJ (not to mention that the nitwit twit called it the “Department of Law.” Apparently Dimwit can’t differentiate between White House Counsel and DOJ, but then neither did Bush.

From Christy Hardin Smith:

She just finished a run at the Vice Presidency wherein, by admission of McCain campaign staffers, they tried to stuff her brain full of governmental knowledge in massive cram sessions for the Veep debate.

And THIS is what comes tra-la-ing out of Bailin’ Palin’s mouth on ABC?

But when I asked Palin if she ever decided to pursue national office again, as she did less than a year ago when she joined Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the race for the White House, wouldn’t she encounter the same political blood sport? Can such ugliness ever be avoided?

Palin said there is a difference between the White House and what she has experienced in Alaska. If she were in the White House the “department of law” would protect her from baseless ethical allegations.

“I think on a national level your department of law there in the White House would look at some of the things that we’ve been charged with and automatically throw them out,” she said.

There is no “Department of Law” at the White House.

Why do I feel the need to express mail a copy of the full School House Rock cartoon DVDs to Palin with a lovely hand-penned card telling her to watch the whole thing and take notes?

“Department of Law.” Robert Jackson is turning over in his grave right now.

Note to Sarah: The Department of Justice are not the President’s own, personal attorneys, despite what Dick Cheney may have told you. Read up on some basic civics before you hurt yourself.

Sad State Of Affairs

July 7th, 2009
1:11 pm

This nation just passed what WILL be (not if, WILL be) determined in the course of history as the final nail in the economic freedom coffin: the Cap And Trade Bill. The Dimocrats, libtards, and libtard Republicans that allowed this bill to pass, much of which was unread and loaded with special interest bullcrap, will be held fully responsible (and those mindless morons that voted for these assclowns) for the lost business, business shifted overseas, lost jobs, and raised taxes. Now these geniuses are talking about ANOTHER “stimulus” bill. What, did not reading the last one and ramrodding it through via the Pelosicrats not do enough? Not COST enough? Did some of the libtards not get enough special interest bullcrap last time around? Next up on the plate is these very same INCOMPETENTS attempting to run our entire health care system. But what does the media care to report about? Michael Jackson and a close runner up to that, Sarah Palin’s resignation. It cannot get any more pathetic in this nation than it currently is, but as we’ve seen, how many more “we miscalculated” comments will we hear from Bidenplugs before America comes out of its Obama/Jackson spell?

Sad State Of Affairs

July 7th, 2009
1:13 pm

Yeah and regarding Palin, looks like the FBI had to shut libtard piehole up on the reason for her stepping down was because of investigations:

You mindless libtards are really scared of her, aren’tcha? You should be, especially the way your hero is running this nation right into the TOILET.