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Fixing the US Congress, Ideas Thread

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by downtown, May 13, 2011.

?

I think the following ideas are good ones

  1. Repeal Citizens United to give less political power to unions and business

    50.9%
  2. Increase the size of the house

    26.4%
  3. remove redistricting power from statehouses

    49.1%
  4. find ways to depoliticize the office of Speaker more

    18.9%
  5. Institute a Merit-Pay system for Congress

    11.3%
  6. Elect a certain number of members "at large", or nationwide

    20.8%
  7. Institute term limits

    35.8%
  8. I have another idea, explained below

    37.7%
  9. I don't think there is anything wrong with Congress

    9.4%
  10. elect downtown, duh.

    41.5%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. downtown

    downtown Crafternoon Delight

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    I think most US politicos would agree that the Legislative Branch is fairly "broken"...it isn't very responsive to public needs or crisis, it is paralyzed by money, it's verrrry partisan, etc.

    Hat Tip here to Babbler for sharing this article in the Boston Review by Rep.Jim Cooper, which explains a little bit of the history behind the deterioration of the legislative branch (particularly the US House), and some thoughts....some easily implemented, others a little outrageous. You can find the article here http://www.bostonreview.net/BR36.3/ndf_jim_cooper_fixing_congress.php and I encourage you guys to read it.

    I'm adding a poll of some of this ideas, along with two I've seen mentioned in other pieces that I thought may be interesting...electing 100 house members "at large", which may weaken the incentive to gerrymander, and attract more talented individuals to run for Congress, and for raising the number of seats in Congress from 435 to say, 600).

    What do you think? Could any of these help? Is there a problem at all? Do you have interesting ideas?
     
  2. galdre

    galdre Emperor

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    removing the influence of corporate money from our legislative branch would help... a lot
     
  3. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    Institute the 40 hour work week with two weeks of vacation.
     
  4. galdre

    galdre Emperor

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    how about 6 weeks vacation for all Americans? :)
     
  5. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    2 weeks vacation, 4 weeks education on civics, history, geography, and science.
     
  6. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

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    Gerrymandering affects the federal congress, but is performed by the states’ legislatures. So any fix needs to come from fifty sources, not one federal source.

    Also, gerrymandering is very much a Sword of Damocles in that it does allow for districts custom drawn for one party or another, but it also allows for districts drawn to allow for minority representation in the congress as called for by the Voting Rights Act. Drawing districts so one party dominates may seem distasteful, but drawing districts that allow, say, Indians to have a strong voice in their representation seems more fair.

    In addition, I’d like to raise the question if a fixed legislature is really in the best interest of the nation. The late nineties were a time of bitterly divided government, but also one of unprecedented economic growth. It seems possible to me that those two factors could be related. Maybe our country moved along pretty well because our representatives were too busy yelling at each to pass additional laws.

    In any case, I’d say that the problems of Washington stem from the ideological disputes more than structural issues with how the legislature is run and elected.
     
  7. Babbler

    Babbler Deity

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    Since I'm not an American, most of my suggestions can summed up as "make the US Congress more like other legislative bodies in other democracies.

    So the House should be increased to provide better representation and put it more in line with international norms. The Speakership should become merely the presiding officer of the House. Federal districting and election management should be in the preview of an independent Federal election body.

    Term limits would be terrible, as it would destroy the institutional memory of Congress.
     
  8. metatron

    metatron unperson

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    I voted these:

    Repeal Citizens United to give less political power to unions and business
    Increase the size of the house
    remove redistricting power from statehouses
    Elect a certain number of members "at large", or nationwide
    I don't think there is anything wrong with Congress


    First: I don't think congress is that bad. It properly represents the extreme cultural stresses and polarity in he US. Those are the actual source of hyper-partisanship, inaction etc.
    Having representatives elected fptp representing districsts has advatages and (significant) defects of course. It isn't per se bad, and many of the disadvantages that are currently expierienced could be dealt with.
    First and foremost the size of the house utterly destroys the major benefit of the system: Originally representatives were supposed to represent way smaller communities. They actually knew the people in their districts (at least way more of them than today) and people writing (or phoning) their congressperson had a bigger weight than today. With districts of some 700,000 people each that benefit is gone.
    Significantly increasing the size of the house might fix that. I'm talking 1435 instead of 435 here. (Yeah, i know, that comes with all kinds of procedural problems. But i'm sure you could fix those). That could also reduce the possibilities of abuse via gerrymandering.
    The latter could be further addressed by having some authority on the federal level doing the redistricting, preferably one that is forced to reach a bipartisan compromise (like treating the redistricting as a normal bill that has to get a house majority and de facto a supermajority in the senate).

    I picked the "citizens united" and "at large" options more on general principle. I'm not sure of how you would like to see the latter getting done. To me that sounds like inevitably demanding some form of PR as a prerequisite. So you might just go straight for that.
     
  9. Rashiminos

    Rashiminos Fool Prophet

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    Perhaps a separation.
     
  10. ArneHD

    ArneHD Just a little bit mad

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    Eliminate the Senate, the senators now manage their own state. Give seats in the House on the basis of population.

    Have the entire law from top to bottom rewritten by bureaucrats, stab any lawyer or politician that tries to get near.
     
  11. JollyRoger

    JollyRoger Slippin' Jimmy Supporter

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    Institute Question Time
     
  12. civver_764

    civver_764 Deity

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    Abolish it.

    Hell yeah.
     
  13. .Shane.

    .Shane. Take it like a voter Retired Moderator

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    I voted for "Repeal Citizens United to give less political power to unions and business" as it comes closest to my wish, which would be to undo the idea that corporations are citizens and have as much or more legal standing as individuals.
     
  14. BvBPL

    BvBPL Pour Decision Maker

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    If nothing else, that might increase the commerce and hammers of Washington DC by 50%.
     
  15. bombshoo

    bombshoo Never mind...

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    Just end the election of congressmen and finally allow corporations to directly appoint members. At least there will finally be some simplification and transparency then.
     
  16. zjl56

    zjl56 Emperor

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    One of the easiest solutions would be if states stop gerrymandering and creating their districts through inane political committees. The solution to that is the solution that a handful of states have already implemented: a computer breaks down a state by county lines in a way in which districts that are the most population/ geographically equal, and the legislature can approve this map or select another one to be made. If the legislature fails to approve any of the maps, the 3rd or 4th one becomes defacto of the state.
     
  17. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Amend the Constitution with the following provisions:


    No person may give anything to any political campaign or candidate except their own personal time and work unless they are registered to vote in the district that candidate is running in.

    No organization may give money to a political campaign or candidate or spend any money to support a political campaign or candidate.

    Congressional districts will be drawn to have the smallest contiguous borders possible, using county lines and town lines whenever possible.

    Congress is to create a 10 year rolling balanced budget. And may only not do so if there is a formal declaration of war for more than 3 of those 10 years. If Congress does not do so, all members of Congress who served during those 10 years are not eligible to hold any federal elected or appointed office again. Further, current members of Congress will not receive any further compensation for the remainder of their term in office. And no member will receive any other compensation or benefits, including pensions and health care benefits.

    No person may serve more than 18 years total in the House or the Senate.

    edit:

    Terms for the House are increased to 4 years. With half the members elected every 2 years.
     
  18. civver_764

    civver_764 Deity

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    18 years is way too high. I'd say 2-4 years.

    Other than that I agree.
     
  19. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    No, they do need time to really get to know the job. Just not unlimited time.
     
  20. GhostWriter16

    GhostWriter16 Deity

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    Why?

    Isn't this the same thing as #1?

    How would this help?

    What IS a rolling balanced budget?

    This I can agree with, but 18 is too many. Not sure if 4 is enough though. Maybe 8?
     

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