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Will You Answer What Congress Won't? The Top 20 Questions pt 5

Back in late 2004 and early 2005, I sent emails, faxes, and letters to every member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. In it, I asked them for their answer to a set of twenty questions which the readers of Polipundit wanted asked. The text of the letter was posted here.

52 Readers in 38 states joined the effort, asking their district Representatives and Senators to answer the questions. Response from our elected Representatives and Senators was poor, predictably so. Most Congressmen and Senators simply ignored the letters, emails and faxes. In the end, only seventeen answered with any degree of substance, and not one answered more than two questions.

I was looking at the set of questions this week, and you know, they still look like good questions to me, so I am going to ask you for your opinion on them. This will take a while, since I am putting up one question for each post, but please give this your serious consideration. And folks, this is not about politics or smacking down the other side; this is an opportunity to explore the issues of substance for our country. Sad that Congress was not up to it, but maybe we can get the conversation going. Thanks in advance.


5. If you could write an Amendment to the Constitution and know it would pass and be ratified, what would that Amendment be?


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Comments (37)

Change #1: Eliminate the US... (Below threshold)
GeminiChuck:

Change #1: Eliminate the US Senate
Change #2: Eliminate the ability for children of foreign citizens to automatically become US citizens if born here.

Both changes are justifiable for long term US security reasons.

Any new tax increase has to... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Any new tax increase has to be passed by a super majority (75%) of both Houses.

Any non-national security/Defense program budget cannot increase by more than the rate-of-inflation except by a super-majority (75%) of both Houses.

Line Item Veto.... (Below threshold)
epador:

Line Item Veto.

Either revoke the 17th amen... (Below threshold)
Buddy:

Either revoke the 17th amendment, or put term limits on both houses.

Enact Term Limits( 1 '8 yr ... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

Enact Term Limits( 1 '8 yr term' as Sen, or, a max of 2 '2 yr terms' as Rep), and disallow anyone from Congress from being employed by any lobbyist or govt contractor for 10 yrs after congressional term is up.

Not amendments, but due for consideration:

Eliminate lifetime benefit and pension for Congress

If running for office, and not performing the duties we elected, and pay you for, NO salary or benefits will be paid

In the dream category:

Eliminate hypocrisy

Apply the 14th Amendment, ... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

Apply the 14th Amendment, specifically the Equal Protection clause, to our tax laws.

Ditto term limits. I would... (Below threshold)
hdt:

Ditto term limits. I would be more generous (maximum of 16 consecutive years in federally elected offices, or 4 terms in house, or 2 terms in senate). Allow return to federally elected office on the basis of 1:1 equal time not in an elected office & as elected official.

Add that congressional districts must be geographically 'compact'.

Repeal the 17th Amendment, ... (Below threshold)
John:

Repeal the 17th Amendment, and increase the membership of the House of Representarives so that each member represents 100,000 people or fewer.

Term limits for Congress ar... (Below threshold)
Mycroft:

Term limits for Congress are good, but the big one I would add would be "term limits" on welfare recipients. Pick a date sometime "next year" and start counting then. Pick a length 1, 5, or even 10 years. You can only collect welfare for that long, period.

Or how about: You can not get more money back from Income tax than you paid in, period, no matter how many credits you get.

Another one to cut the size of government. Reduce senators to 1 per state, and house members by 1/2 based upon present allocation (rounding down). And all staff of removed officials are NOT absorbed by remaining politicians - fire them.

Oh, and modify the law about hospitals having to give care to everyone, regardless of ability to pay, to exclude illegal immigrants.

Term limits is good,<... (Below threshold)
ExSubNuke:

Term limits is good,

Line item veto is much better.

Plain writing that the constitution and all laws are to be interpretted as written, and not as a "living document" would be best.

I like the idea of mandatin... (Below threshold)
Mike:

I like the idea of mandating a 75% super-majority vote for tax increases and proposed budget growth ahead of the rate of inflation.

I would also propose an amendment that more explicitly defined/limited the role of federal power in order to prevent large-scale federal control of the private sector (e. g. health care).

Place a hard upper limit on... (Below threshold)
Farmer Joe:

Place a hard upper limit on tax rates, and enumerate things that are subject to taxation. No non-enumerated things could be taxed.

Redefine Congress' Commerce... (Below threshold)
Captain Ned:

Redefine Congress' Commerce Power as solely for the purpose of prohibiting State laws that seek to disfavor commerce with/from other States. My intent and goal is to remove Congress' ability to use the slighest relationship with "interstate commerce" as justification for Federalizing something that should remain under State law according to the Tenth Amendment.

All bills (including budget... (Below threshold)
Rance:

All bills (including budgets) must be posted on the internet for 10 days for public examination before they can be voted on. If a bill is amended, the bill is reposted with changes marked up, and the clock is reset.

There would be no "I didn't know that was in the bill" excuse. Interested individuals and groups would go over every bill with a fine tooth comb.

All presidential appointees... (Below threshold)
sanssoucy:

All presidential appointees subject to confirmation are automatically confirmed to their position 21 days after their appointment goes to the Senate - unless a majority of Senators explicitly vote to deny confirmation.

Term limits (1 8-year term ... (Below threshold)

Term limits (1 8-year term per Senator, 4 2-year terms per Congressman) would be a start. These bozos have to stop regarding it as a freaking career choice because they aren't qualified to DO anything.

The Constitution is to be interpreted as WRITTEN.

Congress MAKES the laws. Judges ENFORCE the laws. The PRESIDENT is in charge of the Armed Forces.

Congress must advise and consent, not pillory nominees to judicial or executive branch offices.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives needs to be removed from the line of succession to the Presidency until items 1 and 2 are enacted. Ditto Harry Reid.

The spouse of a former president is interdicted from running for public office for 10 years.

I think Milton Friedman had... (Below threshold)

I think Milton Friedman had an answer something along the lines of "All laws, entitlements, benefits, or taxes will be applied to all citizens equally."

Sorry, guys, but skip the t... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Sorry, guys, but skip the term limits.

Limit the pension/benefits to the number of years served. So, a Senator who served for 12 years could collect benefits for 12 years. Limit the value of it to 2 times the 'poverty level' as calculated by GAO. They should not be there to get rich.

LIFETIME ban on working as a lobbyist (directly or indirectly) to influence the governmental entitiy to which you were elected.

Earmarks would be eliminated. All spending must be in the text of the bill as approved by both houses. NO changes/additions allowed to any bill after approved by both houses.

Without the ability to make themsleves rich, politicians would term limit themselves.

That's easy: right to priva... (Below threshold)
mantis:

That's easy: right to privacy. Enough of this Griswold BS about penumbras. I'm sympathetic to the interpretation, and there's good reason to believe that the founders supported such a right, but the fact is the words are just not in the document. They should be.

(And no, I don't think there should be an "undue burden" amendment)

Limit the amount of money t... (Below threshold)
scrub_oak:

Limit the amount of money that the government can take out of the economy as a percent of GDP. The method of raising money is left up to the Legislature. This would allow market forces to play their part in determining how to best generate $$$ for government programs. If the government wants more money in their coffers, it better be sure to pass legislation that would help increase (i.e. not impede) GDP.

That is, the GDP as calcula... (Below threshold)
scrub_oak:

That is, the GDP as calculated from the previous year. No estimated projections are to be used that could artificially increase the government outtake.

I wish I could claim credit... (Below threshold)
Tim K:

I wish I could claim credit, but I like it nonetheless. Add a sentence to the 9th Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. AND WE MEAN IT!

Repeal of the 17th Amendmen... (Below threshold)
Mikey60:

Repeal of the 17th Amendment. The Congress was meant to be a balance between the people (the House) and the states (the Senate). Without that balance, we have had massive growth in the heigth, width and especially the depth and reach of the federal government at the expense of the states. This "progressive" idea has given us increased taxes, decreased services and Cindy Sheehan. It must be repealed.

Oooh, how about a couple of... (Below threshold)
Farmer Joe:

Oooh, how about a couple of new definitions:

"For the purposes of takings via eminent domain, the term 'public use' shall be defined to mean direct use by a governmental agency. The reallocation of taken properties to private owners shall be prohibited. No taken property may be sold to a private owner for a period of at least 25 years from the date of its being taken.

The terms 'fair market value' and 'just compensation' shall be defined to mean the price at which the property could be sold on the open market. Lesser valuations such as tax assessments shall not be used."

Line item veto would be my ... (Below threshold)
patrick:

Line item veto would be my first choice second choice would be term limits even though I don't see them helping the california legislature much.

Every law enacted by the Co... (Below threshold)
Diffus:

Every law enacted by the Congress, and every rule promulgated by an agency of the Executive branch or by any agency of the federal government with the authority to incarcerate or fine residents of the United States, shall include a statement identifying the article and clause of the Constitution under which the Congress or said agency has the authority to enact such legislation or make such rule.

Every expenditure authorized by the Congress shall include a statement identifying the article and clause of the Constitution under which said expenditure is authorized.

These statements will be used by the judicial branch as the sole basis for determining the constitutionality of said laws, rules and expenditures, should such constitutionality be challenged.

Repeal of the income tax woud be high on my list; barring that, and amendment or law requiring members of Congress and their staffs to certify, under penalty of mandatory incarceration, that they have completed their own income tax forms without the assistance of anyone other than members of their immediate family.

I'd repeal the portion of t... (Below threshold)
Keith:

I'd repeal the portion of the 14th amendment that gives automatic citizenship to anybody born in the country and I'd repeal the 16th amendment.

My amendment:"Sect... (Below threshold)

My amendment:

"Section 1: No person under the jurisdiction of the United States shall be held liable to punishment under a law of the United States, unless that law was passed by both houses of Congress in all its details and particulars, including the penalties for violating it."

"Section 2: No person under the jurisdiction of any state, or that of the District of Columbia, shall be held liable to punishment under a law of that state, unless that law was passed by both houses of that state's legislature in all its details and particulars, including the penalties for violating it."

"Section 3: No compulsion, forfeiture or property, or other abridgement of an individual's rights shall be permitted, except in the case of persons convicted of violating a law that satisfies sections 1 and 2 above. Any such compulsion, forfeiture, or abridgement must be specified in the violated law itself."

Sections 1 and 2 aren't really original with me; I first read them in Dr. Clarence Carson's fine book The American Tradition. He saw an Amendment like the above as a stake through the heart of regulation by unelected officials. Section 3 would put an end to "civil asset forfeiture" as well as the loathsome practice of depriving an accused of the financial means of defending himself, on the strength of the accusation itself.

Congress's delegation of legislative power to unelected persons in the alphabet agencies is one of the worst anti-Constitutional atrocities of the past century.

Put Congress in the Social ... (Below threshold)
Maggie:

Put Congress in the Social Security system.

I respect your effort. You ... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

I respect your effort. You have concerns and simply ask that our elected officials respond to them.

If you represented an organization/Pac/Lobbyist/bundler
maybe..just maybe they would have responded...
but all you are is an American citizen..
neither party cares about you...

However, continue with tenacity, they want you to give up.

At the very least go local. If your local elected official does not respond...find out if their opponent in a primary will. if they will?
Put your energy and money with someone who at least pretends to listen.

Keep on Keepin' on

Agreed on the lne item veto... (Below threshold)
Andrew X Author Profile Page:

Agreed on the lne item veto.

But far more important than term limits would be(and I defer to lawyers as to how to write it) some amendment to put the smackdown on the appalingly destructive practice of gerrymandering.

Congress is choosing their voters, not the other way around. It is a travesty, and hugely responsible for the lack of moderates in Congress who can craft a national consensus.

Sorry they're not "amendmen... (Below threshold)
Morris:

Sorry they're not "amendment-fied", but I'd like to see one or (preferably) more of the following:


  • repeal the 14th amendment
  • repeal the 16th amendment
  • repeal the 17th amendment
  • some sort of rework of the Representative picking process ...make it more like being drafted by your fellow citizens for a fixed term, with no possibility of ever being drafted again. Serving in Congress should be like serving in the armed forces: challenging beyond belief, a character-building experience, and getting grossly underpaid.

And although it's not strictly a Constitutional amendment issue, I'd like to see the country take the whole pseudo-popular-vote-for-President debacle and flush it down the john where it belongs. Pure democracy is NOT a good or desirable thing, kids. A democratic republic is what we need, and the electoral college was designed expressly with this in mind.

Whereas, those peoples who ... (Below threshold)

Whereas, those peoples who pay federal income taxes are gainfully employed and whereas the top 50% of wage earners pay 97% of all Federal Income taxes, we herby move that ONLY wage earners who pay Federal Income Taxes are hereby this amendment allowed to vote.

Legalize Industrial Hemp</p... (Below threshold)
Tone:

Legalize Industrial Hemp

Tighten the wording of the ... (Below threshold)
_Jon:

Tighten the wording of the Comerce Clause to only allow Congress to define the process and rules of inter-State commerce, not the items of commerce themselves.

If you want to get better people elected and have defacto term limits, pay each member $1 million per year salary with no benefits. The competition for the job would be *fierce*.

Line item veto would give the pres too much power - it would be used as a bargaining chip; "I will not veto this if you will pass that."

Enumerated powers.... (Below threshold)
CharlieDontSurf:

Enumerated powers.

Gosh... just one? That's s... (Below threshold)
Bill Woessner:

Gosh... just one? That's so hard. I'd probably go with balanced budget, though I'd really like to see term limits, too. Actually, just enforcing the 10th amendment would be a good step. The federal government is an out-of-control behemoth.

I'm actually not too fond of line item veto. The executive branch already has too much power (America already runs much like a monarchy). Line item veto would just add to that power and that's not something I can support. Too many bad presidents.




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