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November 18, 2008

OSTA would prevent monstrosities like the Big Bailout bill

Quote of the Day: “The practice of combining into one Bill Subjects diverse in their nature and having no necessary connection, thereby to secure the passage of several measures, no one of which could succeed on its own merits, both corrupts Congress and endangers the American constitutional republic.” — One Subject At A Time Act, Section 2(f)

Subject: OSTA would prevent monstrosities like the Big Bailout bill

Last week we described how the bailout bill (H.R. 1424) empowered the IRS to do undercover entrapments and reveal your tax information.

What does that have to do with “rescuing the economy?” Nothing.

The bailout bill was stuffed with unrelated provisions to win the votes of pork-minded Congresspeople, and passed quickly before anyone could read it. This made it easy to add provisions that couldn’t have passed by themselves in the full light of day.

The original bailout bill was bad. The final bill was worse. This wouldn’t have happened had the “One Subject At A Time Act” (OSTA) been in force. Here are three examples of how OSTA would have stopped the Big Bailout bill . . .

OSTA says: “No Bill or Joint Resolution shall embrace more than one subject at a time, and that shall be clearly and descriptively expressed in the Title.”

The Big Bailout bill had at least 5 “subjects,” and not all of them were mentioned in the bill’s title.

OSTA says: “An Appropriations Bill shall not contain any general legislation or change of existing law provision, the subject of which is not germane to the subject matter of each such Appropriations Bill…”

The Big Bailout bill combined appropriations (buying troubled assets) with general legislation (such as the Wellstone Mental Health Equity Act).

OSTA says: “A Bill amending or revising a statute shall identify the statute to be amended by its Title or Number of Public Law, or Chapter or Section of the United States Code, and shall set forth completely each section or subsection as it would read if the amendment or revision to that section or subsection were adopted, noting clearly the proposed insertions or deletions to the existing statutory text.”

The Big Bailout bill makes at least 200 amendments to existing laws without revealing the full meaning of the changes. Here’s an example . . .

“Section 257 of the National Housing Act (12 U.S.C. 1715z-23) is amended–(1) in subsection (e)–(A) in paragraph (1)(B), by inserting before `a ratio’ the following: `, or thereafter is likely to have, due to the terms of the mortgage being reset,’;”

What does that mean? We don’t have a clue, and neither did those who voted for the bill. They would have had to research each of the 200 original provisions to really understand what they were voting to pass. OSTA would have helped them by requiring the original provision to be printed next to the amendment. OSTA would make bills understandable.

Use our Educate the Powerful System to tell Congress to introduce and pass the One Subject At A Time Act (OSTA).

Use your personal comments in your message to Congress to tell your elected representatives . . .

* It was wrong to include unrelated provisions in the bailout bill — OSTA would have prevented that!
* OSTA will help members of Congress by printing amended provisions of the U.S. Code in the bill next to the amendments
* They are failing in their duty to represent you if they do not introduce the One Subject At A Time Act

Help spread the word about OSTA by sending this Dispatch to others, by reprinting it on your blog, and by “Digging” it on our blog.

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President

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