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Making The House Representative Again

September 14, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

Image result for house of repBY CHRISTOPHER MANION

Rep. Sean Duffy, a Catholic member of Congress from Wisconsin, announced on August 26 that he will leave Congress before his term is up. Why? His ninth child will need heart surgery when the baby’s born next month, CNS News reports.
“I’m not a lifetime member of Congress,” Duffy told Fox News. “Service is not for a lifetime. . . . We [Republicans] have better transition than Democrats. Democrats stick around forever.” Duffy has served in Congress since 2011.
Duffy’s decision befits a family man. “There’s 435 members of Congress. There’s only one Duffy dad,” he says. He’s made no plans on what he’ll do next, apart from taking care of his family when Duffy baby number nine is born next month.
Duffy’s decision to choose his family first is so unusual that it’s news in itself. And that’s a problem.
Why? Well, the next time you see your congressman, ask him where he and his family live. Most likely he’ll say “Washington,” and that answer explains the dismal condition of Congress as it lurches, panic-stricken, toward elections every two years.
To most Representatives, politics means using taxpayer money to perpetuate themselves and their power. And don’t forget planning retirements designed to maximize sweetheart pension deals while keeping their campaign funds for personal use! They cultivate contacts (and cast votes) designed to create post-Congress jobs as million-dollar lobbyists. And there’s big money in those “retirements”: one study reveals that overall spending on lobbyists by special interests has increased by a factor of fifty — 5,000 percent! — since the 1980s.
With encouragement and funding from the special-interests, these “paid liars” do everything they can to keep the party going. As one insider put it, they knew when they came here that Washington was a sewer; the trouble is, they wind up treating it like a hot tub.
If Congress can’t put its own house in order, the American people will have to. This writer suggests that we do it by adopting a Choice in Representation plan that allows them to elect representatives who, instead of moving to Washington, would live and work in their districts.
Cong. Duffy’s not worried about his successor. “We have a great deep bench in Wisconsin,” he says. And that’s true in every state. But how many of those terrific hometown folks would want to move to the city that is now surrounded by the five richest counties in the United States?

There’s Got To Be A Better Way

Working from home has caught on in business and education. Why not politics? Imagine how different it would be if House members lived among the people they represent. In their hometown, they would do the people’s business — and much of their congressional voting. It’s easy. It’s legal. It would break the back of the Washington power lobby. And it’s the only way that the folks back home can rein in a Congress totally out of control.
The plan is simple: The member now votes by inserting a card into a voting machine on the floor. A simple rules change would let representatives vote that way not only in Washington, but from their home district offices. There they could explain each vote to constituents and the local media, not DC’s Fake News crowd. There, day after day, the hometown folks could see how much time the member makes for them versus how much time he spends with donors and lobbyists.
Support for term limits has long been strong. That reflects the electorate’s desire to rein Congress in, but too many good people are unwilling to serve even for those few years. They do not want to uproot their families, leave their friends, churches, schools and neighborhoods behind, and move to the nation’s capital, where there are more lawyers than people, where housing prices are astronomical, and where the public schools are among the worst in the country. In fact, the only people who move to Washington willingly seem to be the fortune-hunters, professional politicians, bureaucrats, foreign diplomats, lobbyists and special-interest groups that make their living spending other people’s money.
These are the folks with whom your representative spends most of his time; day after day they brief him, lobby him, treat him and his staff to lunches, dinners, and the ever-present fund-raisers. If you want to exercise your constitutional right to petition your government, you’ll have to take time off from work, pay round-trip air fare and sky-high hotel rates, and try to get onto your congressman’s schedule.
Most likely, if you can’t spend thousands of dollars on a lobbyist (usually a former member or staffer), you won’t be able to see the member personally. He’ll be too busy “doing the nation’s business.”

Welcome To Congress — Right Next To Your Neighborhood Deli!

Many voters don’t realize how little time the average member spends on the floor of the House. Most of the time he watches the proceedings on a screen in his office like any other C-SPAN junkie. At night he goes to a home that is as insulated from the real world as his office is. His family lives among neighbors who make their living spending taxes, not paying them; his children usually go to private schools (and in Washington these can cost as much as an Ivy League education). When the representative loses or retires, he will most likely stay in Washington and lobby. “Home” for him has become a campaign state of mind.
The average member today spends about three weeks in Washington for every week at home. With the adoption of the Choice in Representation initiative, that ratio could easily be reversed. Mothers of families who have balanced their budgets for years would be able to serve in Congress without leaving their friends, neighbors, and even their children behind. Such no-nonsense representatives should know all about putting the House in order.
And wouldn’t it be fun to see those multi-millionaire lobbyists driving to 435 different Congressional districts throughout our great country? Imagine your representative’s office with a big picture window facing Main Street. See a limo outside? You can stand on the sidewalk and watch him make his pitch, complete with a stack of checks to finance his host’s next campaign sitting on the edge of the desk.
Bottom line? there’s really little reason for your representative to go to DC. Apart from voting, the average member’s presence is most “required” there for committee and subcommittee hearings. Most of these are orchestrated dog-and-pony shows anyway, with professional witnesses and pre-ordained outcomes. A new Congress could easily organize the few truly necessary hearings with the same efficiency that businesses in every congressional district use to organize their affairs.
In such a regimen, the average representative could easily accomplish his Washington work in one week per month. A modest dormitory for members would eliminate the need for buying a house in Washington (they wouldn’t even need a pay raise). Members who had acquired a disdain for their district and the interests of their constituents, or who were reluctant to move “home,” would have to change or, more likely, retire (or lose). In the meantime, a new breed of representatives could go to work on the nation’s agenda.
For them, cleaning up the mess in Washington would be hard enough. They shouldn’t be forced to live in it too.

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