Want Limited Government? Limit the Bills

A tax change that will harm the ability of employers to keep their retirees off Medicare.  No protection for children with pre-existing conditions.  An individual mandate with no means of enforcement

It seems that nobody read and understood the full workings of the “historic” healthcare bill that was voted in last week.  New and unexpected provisions that failed to get consideration before the law was made are still coming to light.  And many of them are so complicated that no one can even agree on what they really mean.  That’s no surprise, considering the bill was just shy of 2000 pages long and loaded with non sequiturs.  Has anyone credibly explained what student loans have to do with healthcare, anyway?   

In Tennessee, we have a system that is far different from the federal government’s.  Article II, Section 17 of the Tennessee State Constitution states:

No bill shall become a law which embraces more than one subject, that subject to be expressed in the title. All acts which repeal, revive or amend former laws, shall recite in their caption, or otherwise, the title or substance of the law repealed, revived or amended.

In other words, in Tennessee, a healthcare bill would have to be about . . . healthcare.  Not healthcare and student loans, not healthcare and Louisiana purchases, not healthcare and cornhusker kickbacks.  Just healthcare.  In fact, healthcare being such a broad category in itself, each act would likely be limited to being about only one part of healthcare. 

Imagine this rule as applied to the federal government: we could read the bills, and know what was in them, in a matter of minutes, not grueling days.  Changes would be easy to spot and report on.  There would be no “discoveries” days later that no one so much as had the chance to comment on.  No congressperson could be rewarded by sprinkling the bill with district-specific special favors in exchange for a vote. 

Each law would be about what it was about.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The U.S. could benefit from following Tennessee’s lead.

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One Response

  1. You know, in many ways I think this is a consequence of electing so many lawyers. The legal tradition of using convoluted and overly-complicated language sort of leads to this sensibility among the governing class that it’s perfectly ok to write laws that require a damn team of people with jds to make heads or tails of.
    So, really I think there is this sort of culture of ‘well it’s perfectly ok to bs and obscure your meaning through code-speak that can only be sorted out by a judge.. so what’s wrong with obscuring your intent through parliamentary tricks and tack-ons?’
    They are all guilty in this. I think this is more of an issue of taking the country back from the lawyers than any particular party… no offense to any lawyers present, of course.

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