Read the Bill: Tap the Brakes Already

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Congress is like the Beltway. Sometimes it’s impassible gridlock; so slow that nothing seems to move at all. Other times it moves so fast you barely knew you were on it. Right now, we’re going the too-fast-to-pay-attention speed.

With outrage boiling over about millions of dollars worth of retroactive bonuses awarded to AIG executives, the House voted today 328 to 93 to get most of the cash back by taxing the recipients for 90 percent of what they received. (Here’s the text of the bill.) Maybe this is a good way around the argument that the government must pay the bonuses because they’re obligated contractually.

But why such a rush? The bill, introduced by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), yesterday, was available less than a day before lawmakers voted on it. Shouldn’t Congress–and the public–get more time to read the bill?  After all, it was because Congress was in a hurry before that it got itself into such a mess in the first place.

Unfortunately, just like the Beltway, it keeps going round-and-round-and-round. To end this cycle, go to ReadTheBill.org and sign the Read the Bill petition calling for all bills to be placed online for 72 hours prior to consideration.

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  • Karen

    Elaine,

    You said “Thirdly, Obama, who received more in campaign contributions from AIG than any other presidential candidate” — He certainly received excessive contributions from AIG and related entities. But Bush has received $200,560 to Obama’s $110,332, so I think Bush wins the “more” race — for now. You can check out AIG contributions at http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/recips.php?id=D000000123&type=P&state=&sort=A&cycle=A 

    OpenSecrets.org, is a great resource for looking at and fact checking contributors.

    Thanks to the Sunlight Foundation for all their work. Make sure to sign the 72 hour petition!

  • Philllip Gresham

    At this point, it appears that the administration had no knowledge of this change. We’ll have to see if that changes over the next several days. As of now, though, he’s still Mr. Clean.

  • Elaine

    I think it was rushed through for three reasons.

    First, the Democrats believe they have to do something, anything, that looks as though they are on top of things.

    Secondly, the backlash from the public was pretty overwhelming and couldn’t be ignored. After all, some in Congress are up for re-election next year.

    Thirdly, Obama, who received more in campaign contributions from AIG than any other presidential candidate had to try to reward AIG employees through the back door. When the sunlight shone on his deception with the public getting wind of the big bonuses, he had to find a scapegoat to take the fall-Dodd. This makes Obama look like the good guy and makes the Democrats look like they actually have some moral courage after all.