Blogs > Liberty and Power > They Don't Read the Bills

Sep 25, 2009 12:22 am

They Don't Read the Bills

[Cross-posted at Free Association and Anything Peaceful]

Rep. Maxine Waters of California admits that members of Congress don't read the bills they vote on. (Of course, we already knew this.) She made the confession during an interview Friday with Norah O'Donnell on MSNBC. The subject of the interview was the provision in"stimulus" bill that prohibited interference with contractual bonuses at bailed-out companies. O'Donnell pressed Waters to say if she realized that prohibition was in the bill she voted for, and Waters admitted she did not. O'Donnell vented frustration that members of Congress are ignorant about contents of legislation. Waters explained that she and other members read the"important" parts and are mainly concerned with the amount being spent and the beneficiaries. She said they rely on staff to feed them information. When O'Donnell questioned that procedure, Waters misdirected the interview by asking O'Donnell if she reads every word of the newspaper. (As though that were relevant.) Then she asked O'Donnell if she read every word of her mortgage. Unfortunately, O'Donnell let the interview wind down instead of going in for the kill. She could have pointed out that when a person fails to read her own mortgage, she may harm herself, but congressmen vote on things that affect everyone, using money extracted forcibly by taxation, and that no one is permitted to opt out. Congressmen are largely unaccountable because any single voter's" clout" is negligible.

As Mario Rizzo has wondered, if our alleged representatives don't know what is in the laws they pass, in what sense can we be said to have consented to be governed by them?

Watch the interview for yourself:

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mary lili jory - 8/16/2009

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James Otteson - 3/24/2009

Sheldon, did Mario Rizzo say that in print somewhere? If so, can you tell me where?