Thursday, November 26, 2009

Size Matters

Perspective is sometimes a drizzle, sometimes a steady pour. Today's rainmakers: Danny Shaw and Andrew Rabinowitz at OpenCongress, via Glenn Thrush of Politico:

The Top Ten Lengthiest Bills Written by Congress in the Past Ten Years

1. 314,900 words, "Affordable Health Care for America Act," 2009, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.)

2. 314,832 words, "Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users," 2005, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)

3. 314,573 words, "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," 2009, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

4. 296,111 words, "Consolidated Appropriations Act," 2005, Rep. James Kolbe (R-Ariz.)

5. 276,849 words, "Consolidated Appropriations Act," 2008 Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.)

6. 274,559 words, "No Child Left Behind Act," 2001, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio)

7. 258,205 words, "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008," Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.)

8. 250,286 words, "Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008," Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.)

9. 246,984 words, "Consolidated Appropriations Resolution," 2003, Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.)

10. 226,492 words, "Energy Policy Act," 2005, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas)

As you can see (and as bolded), five of the longest congressional bills written within the past decade were penned by Republicans (who says they aren't artsy and poetic), with GOP Rep. Don Young's (R-Ah Lass Kaa) epic novel on transportation (and vampires!) a mere 68 words less than that big bureaucratic Democrat freedom-killer, or health care thing.  John Boehner (R-Loompaland) cashes in at number six with the No Child Left Behind (or Advanced Much Further From Their Current Position) short memorandum that encouraged, appropriately, reading.

We are constantly reminded by our friends in the Republican Party that health care reform will effectively overhaul 16% of our entire national economy. Is it that unreasonable to believe it could take just shy of 2,000 pages to do it right, like it apparently did with energy policy, education reform, and transportation investment?

On second thought, what do they possibly say in 2,000 pages that they can't scribble on a couple of napkins and get pretty much the same effect?  Hell, @SenJohnMcCain could probably say what needs saying in like, 13 tweets, tops.  After all, does anyone remember when Republicans wrote a bill that was 3 pages long and effectively overhauled 100% of our economy?  Now that's efficiency.

Step into the rain:


  1. "The fact is, this country's going broke....We're spending money we don't have and passing it onto our kids, and at some point somebody's got to say, 'Enough is enough'"

    John Boehner

    Where was this jackass when the halfwit from Crawford, Texas was spending the United States into a bankruptcy so paralyzing there is no precedent for it in all recorded human history? Where was his outrage when when the Bush Mob plundered the nation's treasure by making war on a country (Iraq - just in case it slipped your mind) that was a threat to absolutely no one? Is he really serious? That's the really funny thing - he is.

    John Boehner is as crooked as they come. Since the departure of Tom Delay he has become the corrupt politician's corrupt politician. He is the new face of organized political sleaze. Someday we'll all realize this. As hard as he may try, he'll never be able to escape the wrath of history. The fact that he has always been (I'll be polite) "ethically challenged" should not surprise anyone who's paid even scant attention to his career these past twenty years.

    In June 1995, at a time when Congress was deliberating tobacco subsidies, he was busted handing out checks (bribes - let's be honest) from the cigarette industry to various members in a naked attempt to influence their votes. This incident occurred in plain view right on the floor of the House of Representatives. Is this a great country or what?

    Tom Degan

  2. My problem has never been with the length of the bills, only that no one can claim to know them completely if they're that long and the legislators don't have enough time to read them! You can't vote on hundreds of thousands of words that were written the night before! Some may groan about how long the bills are, but they should ALWAYS be made public so that American citizens know what their elected representatives are doing and voting on. Length is important but not the be all end all; transparency is the key.

  3. A worthy rebuttal to my superior wit and intellect. Still no ice cream though.