How to Fix the Federal Government

United States Capitol Dome  Photographer:  David Maiolo

United States Capitol Dome
Photographer: David Maiolo

The American People have become frustrated with the way Washington is being run.  It isn’t just Democrats or just Republicans, it is all of us, Libertarian, Green, Independent and otherwise.  Fortunately the Founders have given us a way out.  We don’t have to wait for our Representatives and Senators to fix things.  We can demand that our state governors and representatives sponsor a series of Constitutional Amendments to reign in a Washington out of control.

Here are some suggested amendments that might help change the Washington Dynamic:

1.  Term limits on House members of no more than four terms, a maximum of eight years.  Term limits on Senate members of two terms, no more than 14 years.

Rationale:  Our country is run by a group of career politicians who are more interested in their political well being than in doing what is best for the country.  Many have sold out to special interests.  If politicians were people who chose to take time out of other careers instead of making a career of politics, they would be less subject to sell-out.

2.  Limit pay of United States Representatives to no more than two times the pay of the average American Household.  Limit pay of Senators to no more than 2.5 times that of the average American Household.

Rationale:  If their pay is tied to the well being of average Americans, they will work for average Americans.

3.  The Budget is due on October 1 of each year.  The Senate and House of Representatives will stay in session every day including Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays until a budget is passed.  Any  member who fails to attend during this period, except in case of extreme family emergency, must have his or her pay docked for the days absent.

Rationale:  Much of the conflict that goes on over the budget is a result of failure to compromise.  If forced to work, ultimately they would have to compromise (Who is going to miss Christmas with their family because they don’t want to come to an agreement?)  Fatigue will force compromise if nothing else does.

4.  Seating in both houses of congress will be random.  Seating will not be arranged along party lines.

Rationale:  If you have to sit next to people who belong to the other party, you will eventually get to know them which, hopefully, will encourage members to work together.

5.  Members must work, either in the chamber or in their offices a minimum of 220  eight hour days per year.  The government will only pay for 8 trips home per year.

Rationale:  This is 44 weeks.  Members of Congress do need time to return to their constituencies for town hall meetings and to campaign.  They do not need to have 3 day work weeks and return home every weekend.

6.  The electoral college will be abolished and presidential elections will be decided by popular vote.

Rationale:  Because it is the right thing to do.

7.  All presidential primaries will be held the second Tuesday in May.

Rationale:  Six months ought to be enough time to elect a president.  No state should have an advantage in the choice of candidates.

I believe that all of these are reasonable non-partisan suggestions, and none of them will be passed by our congress.   We need to urge our state leaders to take action to fix the mess.

If two thirds of our state legislators agree to call a constitutional convention, we can have these and other reasonable amendments considered by the states.

If three-fourths of our states ratify, we could be on our way to a more functional government.

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