Wednesday, January 5, 2011

U.S. House Will Open by Reading the Constitution But Why Stop There?

New Republican Speaker John Boehner is opening the new session of the U.S. House of Representatives with a reading of the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution took about 4 pages in the original, about 22 pages in my printed edition. That's expected to take an hour or two.

This is actually a very old tradition back when laws were handed down orally from generation to generation. A prominent member of society was appointed Lawspeaker to recite the laws of the community at the annual assembly.

By why stop with reading the Constitution when there is so much more that Congress could be made to read aloud.

(1) The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (ObamaCare). Republicans are always complaining Democrats didn't read the law before passing it. So they can read it to them now, before Republicans take the vote to repeal it. 961 pages or so. If they take shifts that should take just 2 days, 6 days if they stick to business hours.

(2) The Internal Revenue Code. The exact length of the tax code is widely debated and a moving target, but I think Congress could get it read on shifts inside a month. And we can make a rule that if they don't read the section that taxes you, you don't have to pay the tax.

(3) The whole United States Code. It has 51 titles, so that's just one title per week for a year. The Internal Revenue Code is Title 26, so that would come up for reading over the Fourth of July. Twenty-one Congressman speed reading simultaneously should be able to get through the tax code on the Fourth, a sort of 21 gun salute.

(4) The Code of Federal Regulations. Yes, it's impossibly long and the federal agencies add new regulations faster than you can read them, a new issue of the Federal Register is published every day. But Congress can just subpoena some federal bureaucrats and make them read it.

And what should Congress do after they have finished all that reading? I'd hope they get the message and adjourn without passing any more laws.

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