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Tag Archive: Read the Bill

Jon Stewart Eviscerates Congress and President Obama for Gutting STOCK Act

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All hail Jon Stewart and those clever Daily Show writers for very adeptly (and hilariously -- though not in a very safe for work way) reporting last night how quickly and quietly Congress and President Obama combined forces to gut major transparency provisions of the STOCK Act passed last year. In an election year, they rushed to pass this reform legislation (and garner public kudos for doing so), but now with less of a spotlight on their actions, they rushed to undo the bill. Readers of our blog know that Sunlight's lobbyist, Lisa Rosenberg, has taken the charge to inform you about this as it happened nearly two weeks ago. As she put it, the Senate's action to approve the removal of STOCK Act transparency provisions was an epic failure on Thursday, May 11, especially since they did so invoking unanimous consent. Then the House followed suit and rushed the vote in mere seconds the next day, as most House members had already left Washington for recess. The House also completely lapsed on fulfilling their "read the bill" rule to wait three calendar days to deliberate on the legislation -- to, you know, actually give citizens time to know what their elected officials were voting on before it was a done deal. (This would have also given the press more time to inform Americans of these shenanigans.)

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“Fiscal Cliff” Casts Shadow of Secrecy

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Just like the debt limit negotiations and Supercommittee process that helped cause it, the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring laws is creating another round of secretive negotiations among our political leaders. The heads of both parties now thrive on stories of impending fiscal consequences, even when they're of their own making.

To cope with a polarized electorate, our leaders have figured out a way to create an apparent impending disaster that is unpalatable regardless of one's ideology. Whatever the outcome of their fight with each other, they've created a dystopian future against which they can be made to look like heroes warding off impending doom with their brave bipartisanship.

It doesn't really matter which party started it (both of them) or whether this was avoidable (it was), because divided government has again led us to a place where the most important policy decisions are probably going to be made in secret, and then passed down to the rest of us.

While online disclosure and dialog don't threaten to take away politicians' power anytime soon, they do represent our best chance at elevating substance, rewarding merit, and reducing undue influence, whether in crafting legislation or in dealing with the struggles of divided government. Sunlight's approach to government transparency has made us skeptical observers of these political negotiations, and as we find ourselves entering yet another cycle, we decided to ask:

What can we expect of the next month, and what should we do about it?

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