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Transparency and Accountability: what EVERY voter should demand

In letters to Senators Gillibrand and Schumer – as well as to Congressman John McHugh – Nancy Foster, Chairwoman of the Lousiville Republican Committee is urging new laws on legislative accountability and transparency.   The text of that letter follows:

Along with millions of other Americans we were absolutely appalled that our government representatives voted on the $787 billion dollar American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 (stimulus bill) without personally reading the legislation in its entirety. We have since learned that it is not uncommon for our elected officials to vote on bills they have not personally read. Instead, they rely on staff recommendations and committee reports. No matter how dire our circumstances seem to be, members of Congress cannot abdicate their responsibility to their staff or committees.

The American public has become increasingly frustrated with a government whose rhetoric does not match its actions. We were promised transparency but have gotten a maze of convoluted trails that seem to be contrived to bar the public from following how, where, and when our tax dollars are being spent.

Not only is legislation rarely open for public scrutiny before it is voted on, it is written in legal language and references volumes of material not provided to the public when they are able to view a bill.

Although President Obama promised he would “…not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days” that has not happened. Government is losing the trust of the American people. You can help ebb that trend by authoring and supporting a bill that will guarantee, except in cases of extreme national security emergencies:

1.  The distribution of all legislation to the members of Congress seven days prior to a vote on said legislation.

2. The posting of all legislation, including references, to an internet site accessible to the public at the same time it is distributed to the members of Congress. Such posting shall also include a straightforward summary of the major points of the bill.

3. No last minute additions or changes shall be made to pending legislation without providing members of Congress and the public an additional seven days for review of the proposed additions or changes.

4. Most Americans view the practice of inserting identity free earmarks in the dead of night as unacceptable cowardly acts unworthy of our government representatives. All legislation must mandate author identification of all earmarks.

The American taxpayer needs reassurance that our government representatives are working on their behalf. Authoring and supporting a bill which includes the above components would be a very positive step in regaining an ebbing trust.

Given Obama’s own promises while on the campaign trail, and an out-of-control Congress, this is common sense legislation that every New Yorker — and every American — should not merely request of their representatives, but demand.  It is high time we remind our legislators who they work for.  They don’t work for the President, and they don’t work for the DNC, or George Soros, or Moveon.org.  They work for us.  For Americans.  Americans who are sick of the mountains of waste and debt being laid at the feet of our children.

The concepts contained in this letter are not partisan in nature.  Every Legislative session, whether run by Republicans or Democrats, ought to follow the rules outlined here.   And every voter – whether Republican, Democrat, Green or Libertarian — should expect nothing less from their representatives.

Remember, we’re not asking for anything that wasn’t promised by Candidate Obama before his election.  It’s time to hold our leaders accountable.  Call your represetatives, and demand this legislation.

(cross-posted at SLC Republitarian)

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