It certainly seems at this point that our congress has lost sight of the simple fact that it is our congress. The legislative process was designed by the people who drafted and ratified the constitution as a means of better serving the people of the United States, not as a vehicle for perpetual re-election or self-enrichment. The idea that the taxpayers’ money belongs to elected officials and is to be used to fund projects aimed at buying votes or securing donations is in direct contradiction to the intent of our founders. This seems to be the model for legislation at present, however, which defines wasteful spending. The legislative process must be free from inappropriate earmarked spending in order for it be fair to the taxpayers. U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives are in congress to fight for the rights of the citizens they represent, not to fight for funding of projects that add up to massive campaign contributions or kickbacks to their family members and friends.
I would propose that each state legislature, in close communication and cooperation with the governor and with direct involvement of the state’s elected officials in Washington, D.C., draft a “grant proposal” with details of spending allocation of federal funds (essentially a ‘wish list’ of projects for the state that are above and beyond the state budget) and a request for an amount of federal money (NO MORE THAN 10% OF THE TOTAL STATE BUDGET) to cover this proposed spending. This would be submitted prior to the fiscal year federal budget for consideration/debate in congress. Each state and each proposed itemized budget request would be reviewed–there are only fifty states, so it is not such a monumental task as I’m sure critics would claim. The final approved amount for each state would then be included in the federal budget. The approval would be done with an eye toward conservation of fiscal resources at the federal level.
The president should never sign any legislation laden with earmarks. While there certainly are worthy projects that are funded in this manner, it is the manner of the funding that is inappropriate. There are a lot of unworthy projects that are funded in this manner as well. The above system would eliminate the need for earmarks, because it would satisfy the budget needs of the states in a one-time payment. Any additional money that was needed during the year would be the responsibility of the state, except in the case of emergencies or natural disasters.
No bill should ever be longer than 25 pages in length, period. If the point of the legislation cannot be communicated in a document of that length, then it is too obscure and difficult to define. Also, with regard to legislation and, especially spending legislation, the attitude ‘less is more’ should be used as a guide.
The current state of our government’s approach to legislation and spending is in direct contradiction to the intent of the our Founding Fathers. Our country desperately needs a RETURN TO PRINCIPLE on the part of our elected officials if we are to survive as a unified, strong, principled nation.