Senate How to best fix U.S. government?

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ghost, Mar 29, 2014.

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How can U.S. government best be fixed? (besides constitutional amendments)

disclosure and transparency for political campaign financing 9 vote(s) 40.9%
nonpartisan congressional redistricting for the House 7 vote(s) 31.8%
further erode the filibuster and similar measures in the Senate 3 vote(s) 13.6%
automatic voter registration/updating 2 vote(s) 9.1%
mandate that the options of early voting and vote-by-mail be available in every state 4 vote(s) 18.2%
eliminate the debt ceiling 3 vote(s) 13.6%
make it so government is always continuously funded (shutdowns no longer possible) 2 vote(s) 9.1%
Other? (please explain) 13 vote(s) 59.1%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    There's been a lot of talk in recent years of eliminating the Electoral College, or making all political campaigns entirely funded by the public, among other reform ideas. But those would require constitutional amendments if they were to pass judicial scrutiny. And getting two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states to agree on anything remotely controversial right now would be nearly impossible. If there's a big enough movement for it, it could eventually happen, but surely some other reforms could be done in the meantime without needing an amendment.

    So, besides constitutional amendments, what political reforms should be passed that would fix or at least improve how well the U.S. government works?

    Some ideas:
    1. disclosure and transparency for political campaign financing
    2. nonpartisan congressional redistricting for the House
    3. further erode the filibuster and similar measures in the Senate
    4. automatic voter registration/updating
    5. mandate that the options of early voting and vote-by-mail be available in every state
    6. eliminate the debt ceiling
    7. make it so government is always continuously funded, and therefore failure to agree on a new budget or appropriations bill for the new year would only mean no changes would be made (not that the government would shut down)
  2. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
  3. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    Take money out of politics. Declare money isn't speech. No private donations for campaigns. No PACs. Compulsory voting. Term limits for congresspeople.
  4. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    I don't see why this makes sense at all. Yes, shutdowns are not positive experiences, but I don't see why you'd want to eliminate them. Your proposal only enables obstructionism. After all, consider what would happen if Repbulicans simply refused to agree to any budgets after the ACA passed. Obamacare would not exist in any fashion, and the only price would be that the government hobbles along on the budget of fiscal year 2009 into perpetuity. Why is it a good thing to remove incentives to negotiate, when many identify an unwillingness to do so in the first place as part of the problem with the present attempts at working through the legislative process?

    EDIT: : Lord of Vivec, I agree about the first part, but I don't see how term limits help. The process of government is not really that straight-forward, and it takes some time to figure out both the practical mechanisms of government (eg "How do I propose a bill?") and to develop a practical sense of what is doable (eg "What impacts will this bill have?"). This is true even when you are bringing in people who are already subject experts. For instance, while Christina Roemer's long academic study of depressions gave her the insight to push for a large stimulus bill, she lacked the political insight to know how senators might recoil from a price tag that seemed too large.

    It makes no sense to throw people out before they can develop these kind of instincts. Especially given that other players have no such limitations placed on them. In states where it has been tried, the practical effect has often been to further empower lobbyists to write and direct legislation, since elected officials are too inexperienced to lead the process themselves.
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Mar 29, 2014
  5. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    I know you're probably not completely serious, but if you were, what about after the revolution? How would a new government have to be structurally different, to stop it from repeating the mistakes of this one?

    Those would require constitutional amendments, except maybe compulsory voting.


    What I'm saying is, the government is always continuously funded. If Obamacare passed in the first place, then it would be continuously funded as long as it is law.
    Last edited by Ghost, Mar 29, 2014
  6. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
  7. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    How would something be "continuously funded?" One has to set appropriations levels for the various functions and departments of government. If you aren't making up new figures, you have to use old ones. If an old one doesn't include monies for the new programs, then those programs manifestly cannot exist. I don't mean just in regard to this particular program, to be clear. But just in general, how would this actually work? I'm not seeing any clear mechanism.
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Mar 29, 2014
  8. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Whenever a program is created or revised, you amend the budget in that very law to include funding for it. Completely tying together each program and funding for that program.
    Last edited by Ghost, Mar 29, 2014
  9. Souderwan Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2005
    star 6
  10. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 4, 2003
    star 8
    A. How would that be practical for outlays that change from year to year? Do you really want to amend the entire farm bill just to hire a few extra people at the Department of Agriculture?

    B. I still don't think your automatic funding clause would work re: the ACA. For instance, the bill does say that $X are to be appropriated to the Department of Health and Human Services to fulfill each particular clause of the law. However, the problem is that the ACA nowhere sets the total budget of the department (as well it shouldn't). So, if we carry forward the previous year's budget total, you must assign money two different places simultaneously. Since you didn't increase the total funds in their budget, they still to pay for the entire ACA-related cost mandated by law and all the other parts of the department. Despite likely triggering automatic violations of the various mandates to spend certain amounts of money on different topics, you also guarantee pretty severe malfunction, as something will have insufficient funds. Is this really that much better than the effects of an outright shutdown?
  11. Condition2SQ Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 5, 2012
    star 4
    Compulsory voting? That would just exacerbate what is, to me, the actual problem, which is how depraved and cynical the electorate is. Though some of the structural issues listed here can be cynically manipulated, that is a logical outgrowth of what they were designed for, which is to give minority ideological interests greater representation and protection than their mere number of adherents would normally dictate. The problem as I see it is that much of the electorate has subscribed to such a depraved view of politics, what I call "sports fan" politics; they don't actually care about whether policies they ostensibly advocate actually are efficacious in what what they were designed to do--alleviate poverty, reduce crime, foster economic stability etc.--, but instead just care about "winning" an election, as if it were akin to a sports championship where you put on a hat and t-shirt, party for a week, and then go home until next year. Witness the ostensible "conservatives" who cared not one bit about Bush's fiscal irresponsibility; witness the liberal apathy in the face of Obama's drone and surveillance policies that would have had them in full-blown apoplexy had Bush, McCain, or Romney authored them.


    Also, aside from being a nice Leftist slogan, how exactly do you "take money out of politics"? People have interests. People wish to advocate for them. Advocating for them requires human and material resources to broadcast your message. Resources cost money. Maybe have some kind of public financing pool people can use for political advocacy? (I'm seriously asking "how?" here, not being rhetorically snarky)
    Last edited by Condition2SQ, Mar 29, 2014
  12. duende Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2006
    star 5
    term limits
    decentralization
    Lady_Misty likes this.
  13. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    y'know, a lot of the shenanigans going on in government right now are due to first-timers in the House (in particular) who have no idea how government works and don't care. Term limits won't help that -- it'll just hamper those with enough clout to stop these guys.
  14. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    Disclosure and transparency for political campaign financing
    Nonpartisan congressional redistricting for the House
    Further erode the filibuster and similar measures in the Senate
    Mandate that the options of early voting and vote-by-mail be available in every state
    Eliminate the debt ceiling

    I voted for these, and for Other. Making certain legislative positions, like Speaker of the House non-partisan would be a good start.
  15. duende Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2006
    star 5
    yeah but jello these people hanging around for like thirty, forty years have got to go. the longer they're in there the more institutionalized they become. there has to be a workable middle ground here.
    Last edited by duende, Mar 29, 2014
  16. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Mar 4, 2011
    star 7
    I don't agree with compulsory voting either. People have the right to be apathetic.

    I definitely agree with taking the money out of politics though. Even politicians who run for office with the best of intentions get hit with the corporate and special interest lobbying and promises of large campaign donations.

    It would involve changing the way elections are run in this country but I think that's the biggest factor in cleaning up corruption.
    Jedi Merkurian likes this.
  17. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6

    Then give them what the President gets, a maximum of two four year terms.
  18. duende Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 28, 2006
    star 5
    i was gonna suggest 12 years total and that's it, any combination of house/senate.
  19. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    I could go along with that, as it basically amounts to the same thing. Two terms and done.
  20. DarthWilliams Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2008
    star 4
    Other: Term limits for members of Congress.

    This will never happen because it would require current members of Congress to vote to essentially say that at a certain point they'll automatically lose their jobs, but it would be a hell of a lot harder for the special interests, lobbyists, et al to gain the sort of influence they have right now if funneling cash into the re-election campaigns of current members of Congress wasn't something they could use as leverage. We'd also see a decline in strict party-line voting as Congress members would no longer feel the threat of a primary from his/her party if they don't vote on the party line on a certain issue.

    I don't necessarily think a one-and-done system would be the best solution, which would certainly dilute those benefits a bit, but a Senator who knows he can only be Senator for two terms would certainly act differently than one who's looking to keep that seat for as long as possible.
  21. Chancellor_Ewok Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2004
    star 6
    So what would you suggest instead of Congressional term limits?
  22. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    Here's some of my ideas...

    1) Abolish the Electoral College
    2) Establish mandatory photo IDs for all voters
    3) Require valid, authenticated Social Security cards for all voters
    4) Abolish "common core" practices
    5) Actually read the Tax Code before changing anything
    6) Replace the IRS with an all-encompassing flat-tax system
    7) Reverse Hugo Black's twisting of the "separation" mentioned in Jefferson's 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists
    8) Allow elective classes for all religious studies in public schools
    9) Enforce all state laws requiring school textbooks to be factually accurate
    10) Eradicate political correctness
    11) Allow an equal number of conservatives and liberals on the Supreme Court
    12) Every candidate for U.S. President must reveal their long-form birth certificate before campaigning
    13) Restore marital laws to the individual states, without federal interference
    14) Do the same with gun rights as #13
    15) Restore the original spelling of "unalienable" to the Declaration, and explain its meaning
    16) Allow every independent business to be run as the owners see fit, unless doing so results in crimes like murder, human trafficking, drugs, etc.
    TOSCHESTATION and Lady_Misty like this.
  23. DarthWilliams Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2008
    star 4

    How would this work? With an equal number of conservatives and liberals, there would be an even number of Justices and cases could (and would) result in a tie. Who gets the tie-breaking vote? Who decides who's "conservative" and "liberal" and appoints the set amount of each?
    Jedi Merkurian likes this.
  24. Moviefan2k4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 29, 2009
    star 4
    I also like Mark Levin's proposed steps in his book "The Liberty Amendments". Here's an interview he did with Sean Hannity a while back...

    Kuag likes this.
  25. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10