For John, BLUF: Another man with a plan to save the nation.
Step 1 – Abolish the filibuster Enough said. Nothing can or will change until the Senate rediscovers the principle of majority rule. Like it or not, it's the way a democratic republic is supposed to work.How could all those Senators have been so wrong, for so lomg, about how a democratic republic is supposed to work?
It is supposed to be hard to pass legislation through the US Senate. The Founding Fathers and their immediate successors made it that way, for a reason.
Step 2 – End life tenure for Supreme Court justicesThe author starts out with a two paragraph diatribe against Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican. Shouldn't OpEd writers be trying to gain acceptance, rather than alienating readers? Yes, the Pope resigning is a fine example of how older Justices should act. We have had examples of Justices who stayed too long. Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes comes to mind On the other hand, a life tenure provides a certain independence, which is needed for a Supreme Court Justice. And why discard a fine mind due to some arbitrary rule? Earlier resignations for some makes sense, but we are humans and not subject to arbitrary rules.
The fix: Establish fixed terms for the justices, say, 15 years give or take a few; a mandatory retirement age of, say, 72 or 75; and some variant of the Missouri plan. In Missouri high court judges are nominated by a bipartisan panel. The panel selects a small number of nominees and submits the list to the governor. The governor chooses one nominee from the list.
Step 3 – Get serious about campaign finance reform Money corrupts and absolute money (i.e., unlimited cash contributions) corrupts absolutely. Right now we have the worst Congress money can buy. Everyone – seriously, everyone – with any experience inside the beltway knows it. The Supreme Court can fix it by overturning Citizens United. Congress can fix it. But only if a) the filibuster is abolished and b) the Supreme Court is drastically depoliticized.The fact is the campaign goes on 52 weeks a year. How do we really limit it to six weeks? As for limiting money, what are the odds it will just go underground? The Devil is in the details. As for Citzens United, does that mean corporations will no longer pay income tax? What are the consequences of overturning Citzens United?
The fix: First, limit political campaigns to six weeks before each election (primaries and general elections). Second, require every radio and TV licensee to set aside a certain amount of time for free political ads to all candidates on the ballot in any given voting district as a condition of obtaining and retaining a license to use "public airwaves". Third, limit by law the total amount any candidate can spend. And one more thing: it's not a "free speech" issue. (Anyone who says otherwise spends way too much time watching Fox News.)
Step 4 – Regulate lobbying (and prosecute violators) [Yada, yada, yada]I am in general agreement here, but I want "lobbyists" to include all those petitioning their Congress-critters and their staffs. Joe Bag-a-Donuts, down the street, asking for a pirate bill because his Uncle was unfairly treated by some bureaucrat over some arbitrary rule or regulation, is just as much a lobbyist as any guy in a $2,000 suit.
…between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of House members more than doubled from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars, excluding home equity. To say nothing about the scandalous "revolving door".
The fix: Ban any member of Congress, general officers, and federal senior executive service (SES) officials from engaging in any kind of lobbying activities for life. Make it a crime punishable by serious jail time and large fines. Enforce the law. Require member of Congress to disclose all contacts with lobbyists. Require Congressional staff members to log all contacts with lobbyists. Publish the logs on the internet.
Step 5 – Restore fiscal sanity with deep cuts in defense spending De-mythologize war and demilitarize the American economy. Mothball at least 7 of the 11 carrier strike groups, scuttle the F-22 Raptor Stealth Fighter and the F-35 Lightning, and do not build 3,000 more tanks.I am not sure what we save by scuttling the F-22, except O&M (Operations and Maintenance) costs, which we would have to pay for whatever we pull out of the Bone Yard to replace it. As for the F-35, I am ambivalent, but what takes its place?
The fix: Under the Constitution, Congress has the power of the purse, so Congress can fix this problem at any time. To put it mildly, our defense budget is defensible. Cut it by 10-15% every year for the next four years. Then continue cutting it until it is no greater as a share of GNP than the average for the other OECD countries.
The real question is what we need a Department of Defense for? To defend our borders and deter nuclear attack we probably need a lot less than what we have. But, what if we want to help the French and their European friends fight al Qaeda in Mali? If so, buy strategic lift and reconnaissance platforms. Want to be able to reach out and smack some terrorist group after another World Trade Center like attack? Spend a lot of money on Special Forces, conventional bombers (and tanker and surveillance aircraft) and buy back a couple a couple of aircraft carrers and consorts. Don't want China to turn the Western Pacific (and South China Sea) into a Chinese inland waterway? A couple of more aircraft carriers.
So, the author wraps up:
See, fixing Washington is easy. If only we didn't have to depend on Washington to do it…On the other hand, if you know history and took civics and think thirty-two plus thirty-two is sixty-four, these five steps are overly simplistic and should be ignored.
Regards — Cliff