Congressional Reform

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turbo
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I have a problem with the self-proclaimed "conservatives" in Congress. They are willing to blow through taxpayer's money on wars, defense spending, agricultural subsidies, etc, while relentlessly attacking Social Security, Medicare and other programs that the poor, elderly, or disabled need to stay alive. Are the Democrats the new conservatives?
 
russ_watters
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Um...you didn't say what the democrats do and what you describe of conservatives sounds like a proper description to me...

And how is that relevant to the thread?
 
Astronuc
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Wasteful spending of your tax dollars: Martian menus, the “non-profit” NFL, and a $132 million do-nothing Congress
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/wasteful-spending-tax-dollars-martian-menus-non-profit-105911755.html

Think Congress does not have much to show for itself this year? Think again. A new report from Senator Tom Coburn's office highlights dozens of examples of government waste in 2012. Included for the first time on this list: Congress. The very people looking into government waste find they themselves are wasteful. Coburn's report estimates $132 million of taxpayers' money was wasted on "the most unproductive and unpopular Congress in modern history."

"The waste is unbelievable," says Coburn. "We're bankrupt, this country is bankrupt, and people just don't want to admit it."

Loopholes are part of the problem. The National Football League, for example, pulled in more than $9 billion last year, yet is technically a "non-profit" organization, costing the federal government tens of millions of dollars every year in lost revenue.

"We have some of the biggest corporations in America paying no taxes whatsoever, you know something is wrong with the code," says the Republican senator.
. . . .
Would either presidential candidate press for reform? Will congress?
 
mheslep
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Wasteful spending of your tax dollars: Martian menus, the “non-profit” NFL, and a $132 million do-nothing Congress
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/wasteful-spending-tax-dollars-martian-menus-non-profit-105911755.html

Would either presidential candidate press for reform? Will congress?
The US House did pass a budget as it was required to do that cut $1-200B out of FY13. Of course it never saw daylight in the Senate. If Romney wins I expect to see more reductions to baseline increases any many areas, with the unfortunate exception of military spending, which seems bloated to me.
 
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Astronuc
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Bloomberg Starts ‘Super PAC,’ Seeking National Influence
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/18/nyregion/bloomberg-forming-super-pac-to-influence-2012-races.html
Seeking to reshape a national political debate he finds frustratingly superficial, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York is plunging into the 2012 campaign in its final weeks, creating his own “super PAC” to direct millions of dollars in donations to elect candidates from both parties who he believes will focus on problem solving.

Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire and a registered independent, expects to spend from $10 million to $15 million of his money in highly competitive state, local and Congressional races. The money would be used to pay for a flurry of advertising on behalf of Republican, Democratic and independent candidates who support three of his biggest policy initiatives: legalizing same-sex marriage, enacting tougher gun laws and overhauling schools.
. . . .
I suspect these are elections outside of NY City and even NY state.

Is this what it takes? Is this appropriate?
 
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It is possible to lose the popular vote by a significant margin, and still be elected President by the electoral college. In a democratic (supposedly) country, this should not be possible - the will of the people is reflected in the popular vote.
No. It is a feature, not a bug.

All states regardless of population, whether California or Wyoming, are equal. Accordingly, they have equally 2 seats in Senate.

That is the only clause of Constitution exempt from amendment by 3/4 majority of states. Unlike e. g. 13th amendment.

In Congress, there are 2 houses. However, there is only 1 president. While States do not have equal votes in Electoral College, they do have votes according to number of both houses of Congress together. California has 66 times the population of Wyoming, but 53 times the number of representatives and equal number of senators - therefore 18 times the number of Electoral College votes.
 
Astronuc
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Congress has to produce the spending bills, which the president has to sign.

Here's some interesting commentary on the 'fiscal cliff' and the fact that no one seems to know what to expect from either president in the current or next fiscal years. It doesn't look good either way.

Congress and the administration have been 'kicking the bucket down the road' for some time. Now we come to the 'fiscal cliff' and there is no more road on which to continue kicking the bucket.

John Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, says "the political system is corrupted by money" and "mutual funds should have a say in political contributions by corporations they own shares of."

http://money.cnn.com/video/news/2012/10/19/n-jack-politics-corrupted-by-money.cnnmoney
 
BobG
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Wasteful spending of your tax dollars: Martian menus, the “non-profit” NFL, and a $132 million do-nothing Congress
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/wasteful-spending-tax-dollars-martian-menus-non-profit-105911755.html

Would either presidential candidate press for reform? Will congress?
The problem is that Coburn's report is junk. Some of his issues might be valid, but I wouldn't take any of them at face value.

For example, the robot squirrel didn't cost $325,000 - the entire San Diego State study on rattlesnakes cost $325,000, including the cost of the robot squirrel (created by UCDavis) and numerous surveillance cameras. The cameras will be installed on the http://www.blueoakranchreserve.org/BORR/Welcome.html [Broken] which is quickly becoming the most technologically wired nature preserve.

It's not the first time UC Davis has made robotic animals. To fund the projects in robotics, the robots have to fill some function and they seem to have found a niche creating robotic animals for biology studies. And the use of robotic animals take biology projects from the standard "observe and take notes" type of project to actual experiments where variables can controlled to test specific theories about what's being observed (remember the old "correlation doesn't imply causation" problem - you have to see variables change to see if the correlation is real).

Getting money for post-graduate biology studies is probably pretty competitive when budgets are decreasing. Including an engineering project (the squirrel), multiple universities, and upgrades to a multi-use nature reserve probably make the overall project a lot more attractive, funding-wise. Unfortunately, the squirrel video was entertaining enough that it draws the public's attention completely away from the project, itself.

And, suddenly, what was a unique and efficient method of funding several projects (the nature reserve, the rattlesnake study, and robotics projects) is pointed to as a great waste of money.

Oh, and as my dog would say - "SQUIRREL!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0hyursVxG0
 
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Bystander
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A six year old thread?

Okay, gang, how about introducing a "write-OUT" ballot to the election process? The electorates of the other 49 states don't get to pick your senators or representatives, but they do get the option of denying seats to the real lemons. Dunno whether it's a matter of number of objections voted outnumbering the number of ballots cast for "X" in the home state, or quite how to work such a vote numerically, but the end goal is to place the ability to discipline members of congress in public hands.
 
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A six year old thread?

Okay, gang, how about introducing a "write-OUT" ballot to the election process? The electorates of the other 49 states don't get to pick your senators or representatives, but they do get the option of denying seats to the real lemons.
Other 49 states would be a problem interfering with the freedom of a state to pick representatives.

Division of a state into constituencies is another matter.

Simple plurality, winner takes all districts have the effect of amplifying small majorities and weighing them over others.

Would it be better to require multimember constituencies, not single member ones, for Representatives? (With exception of States having a single seat.)
 
Astronuc
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It wouldn't help. Republicans would support loop quantum gravity and Democrats string theory.
 
Astronuc
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Physicist Elected to Congress Calls for More Scientists-Statesmen
Bill Foster, member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives, wants more scientists in Congress who can bring to bear an analytical mind-set to lawmaking

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=physicist-elected-to-congress
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Foster_(Illinois_politician)

I'm all for more analytical, rational minds in Congress.
If I remember right, the last scientific minded individual in the Presidency was, well, Herbert Hoover (Mining Engineer). He didn't turn out so good. Not sure how scientific training can itself help one govern (indeed, the hard sciences show the highest rates of conservative thought in the higher education bubble). What we need is scientific literacy in governance. No more Marco Rubios who think the Earth is 6000 years old.
 
BobG
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If I remember right, the last scientific minded individual in the Presidency was, well, Herbert Hoover (Mining Engineer).
A scientific minded person would realize you can't build a trend line from a single data point.

In fact, a truly scientific minded population would elect nothing but engineers, clothing retailers, and peanut farmers for the next 200 years just to improve the trend lines on our graphs.
 
My point, which you would have known had you bothered to quote the rest of my statement, was that scientific training does not in itself lend political brilliance.
 
BobG
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No more Marco Rubios who think the Earth is 6000 years old.
Is that realistic?

In 2004, 34% of the people that voted in the election were conservative, 45% moderate, and 21% liberal. 37% were Republican, 37% were Democrat, and 26% were independent.

In 2012, 35% were conservative, 41% were moderate, and 25% were liberal. 32% were Republican, 38% were Democrat, and 29% were independent.

While there's the same number of conservatives, the Republican Party is shrinking (which is why Romney's performance with Independents didn't help him as much as you'd think it would - he was picking up votes from Republican defectors; not true Independents).

In 2004, 21% of voters were white, evangelical voters and 79% of them voted for Bush. In 2012, 23% of voters were white, evangelicals and 79% of them voted for Romney.

With a shrinking Republican Party and an increasing number of evangelicals, I think it's possible that the Republican Party might already be more than 50% white, evangelicals. And if not, then they're awfully close to being half the Republican Party.

Earlier, someone posted a thread about what the Republican Party had to change in order to do better in future elections (perhaps it was a bit too soon after the election, as it couldn't go an entire 24 hours without being locked).

A more realistic question might be "Is it even possible for the Republican Party to change?"

Republican Party leadership doesn't get to choose the party's candidates. If Republicans don't like the establishment candidates, they'll just revolt and nominate their own candidate (which is a lot of what the Tea Party movement is all about). Do you think Republican leadership wanted Richard Lugar out of the Senate? No! It was Indiana Republicans that wanted Lugar out of the Senate and they nominated a Republican candidate more to their liking (Richard Mourdock)!

That didn't work out so well for that particular statewide election, but Tea Party candidates do quite well in the House, since those districts are much smaller than an entire state. So, it's unlikely we'll see an onslaught of Marco Rubios elected to the Senate, but I see no reason to think we won't have more in the House.
 
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BobG
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My point, which you would have known had you bothered to quote the rest of my statement, was that scientific training does not in itself lend political brilliance.
I was joking, so I only quoted the part that aided my humor (which needed all the help it could get). At least about electing clothing retailers and peanut farmers for the next 200 years. I do think it would be interesting to see a few more politicians with technical backgrounds, though.
 
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As a friend of mine once said, "Money is more powerful than logic."
 
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As a friend of mine once said, "Money is more powerful than logic."
Wise observation. The ability (both perceived and real) to do violence is also more powerful than logic.

Congressional reform is of course necessary. But, imho, not likely to ever happen.
 
Astronuc
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Maybe this is the way to reform!
In an exclusive joint interview, Sawyer sat down today on Capitol Hill with the historic class of female Senators of the 113 th Congress . When the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3 rd, there will be a record-breaking 20 female senators - 4 Republicans, 16 Democrats -in office.
Hill Women Say They'd Have 'Fiscal Cliff' Solved
http://news.yahoo.com/female-senators-theyd-already-fiscal-cliff-solved-233143888--abc-news-politics.html [Broken]

:biggrin:
 
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BobG
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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said by nature women are "less confrontational and more collaborative,"
Typical female sexist stereotype!
 
Evo
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russ_watters
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Lol, I was going to say -- I think she has the stereotype backwards!
 
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If you want congressional, etc., reform, then stop voting for major party candidates. People seem to regard this as a crazy radical thing to do. But it really isn't. The elected candidates of the two major parties have pretty much become corrupt and screwed the US in the process. Yet, you keep voting for them. Duh!
 

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