President Obama last night supported prohibiting inside trading by members of Congress (Congress is currently exempt from insider trading laws) Gee, if only someone had proposed making Congress live under the same laws as they expect us to live under. Oh wait, someone did:
REPUBLICAN CONTRACT WITH AMERICA
FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
If Congress had held to the concept of #1, they would not have been allowed to inside trade.
I am amazed at how much the Contract with America still applies to America 17 years later. Even today when we talk about “budget cuts”, these are usually not really cuts. Congress plays a dirty game. The way it works is simple. Suppose Congress has published plans to increase every budget by 5% (whether needed or not) and for program X, this means $500 billion more over the next 10 years. Now suppose some budget minded conservative believes we only need to spend $300 billion more–this is called a cut.
This practice allows people who favor big government to demonize people who want to limit the growth of government by being able to say that just not increasing spending as much is a cut. Zero Based budgeting eliminates this practice. #8 on the Contract with America.
I like the original Contract with America and I do not find it “embarrassing” at all.