Feckless Lawmaking

Michael McBride
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Posted: May 25, 2007 5:23 PM
Feckless Lawmaking

Politicians don’t make laws, lawmakers do. And sadly we have plethora of politicians and a dearth of lawmakers.

Laws order societies. They provide guidelines for commerce, social behavior, governmental administration, and public safety. Laws often find their roots in, and are forced to meander back to their relevant guiding document, such as the US Constitution or the English Magna Carta. The limiting of the force of laws by such documents guarantees personal freedoms ensures a certain orderliness in that society that reflects the founders’ vision, and places boundaries to lawmaking by the limiting and sharing of governmental power.

Effective lawmaking requires a vision for improvement, a congruous and coherent pathway to that vision, and an implementation scheme that ensures the functionality of the law over time. Successful implementation plans include appropriate administrative guidelines, adequate levels of funding if required, and enforcement provisions as necessary and relevant exceptions if appropriate. It is the singular responsibility of lawmakers to ensure that any legislation that gets passed, meets those base requirements, is Constitutional, and functional. That would be responsible lawmaking.

The functionality of legislation can be measured in myriad of ways. Was the law found un-Constitutional? Is more than one aspect, if any, bogged down in the courts? Did it survive the weight of its own administrative requirements? Did the funding meet the envisioned or actual expense? Is the program sustainable over time? How big is the administrative tail? How well is it functioning? Is anything positive actually being accomplished?

Often, in today’s climate, a lack of concern over the functionality of newly passed legislation seems to be the only area where bi-partisan agreement can be reached. Which is the crux; we no longer have legislators or lawmakers inside the venerated halls of congress, we simply have politicians. And politicians don’t seem to want to, or care to make very good laws.

Political agendas today are dominated by complex vote-buying legislation, and where real, necessary legislation is consistently avoided over time. The new immigration proposal as an example of the former, and the failure to correct the wonton ills of the Social Security system provide and example of the latter.

The disconnect(s) between the altruistic goals of the McCain-Kennedy immigration embrace, and its functional elements are striking. Hugh Hewitt, and others have done yeoman’s work in parsing the behemoth into digestible bites, but the striking part to me are the many parts of the bill that appear to be a pathway in an Escher drawing.

-Who is going to conduct 12 million plus background checks, and where is the funding, where is the creation of an administrative arm to accomplish it, and the manpower to complete it? A gap this wide in legislation reveals either completely incompetent law writing or a complete indifference as to whether the checks are completed or not. Either way we have incompetent politicians writing laws who show little regard for actually providing border security for the country.

-The Border Patrol math doesn’t add up either. From a BP agent email to HH,

“Fact: The U.S./Mexico Border is 1951 miles long. We need 4 agents per mile.We would need to deploy 7804 Agents per shift, 3 shifts per day. Totalrequired manpower: 23,412 Agents per day. Projected BP staffing level:18,000.”

I am not exactly sure how the “new” math works inside the DC moat called the beltway, but I am pretty sure that between one room full of 435 Representatives, and another room full of 100 Senators, someone would be able to discover a five thousand man shortfall in the manning of the Border Patrol; if they were sincerely interested. Their lack of vetting belies their lack of interest in the enforcement provisions of the legislation.

-And the inclusion of provisionary status for most illegal aliens, after a mere 48 hours, while the flawed provisions of this bill are being played out, only re-enforces the idea, that all of the enforcement measures and procedural triggers will be rendered useless as the administrative requirements cannot be met because of the gaping holes in the legislation itself. In other words, these politicians were more than willing to let the real security aspects of the bill be overcome by events, in order to expedite the regularization of those who have been in this country illegally. And does this make sense when Islamist extremists are targeting our southern order for exploitation?

The point is not whether immigration reform should be passed or not. This country needs to put together a comprehensive and complete package that provides security for the country, provides a path to citizenship, is revenue neutral in its cost to social security and other entitlement programs, and works to such a degree that future “immigration reform” bills are unnecessary.

The point is politicians are incapable of providing us with such legislation. Our current crop is so pre-occupied with preserving their status, or the lineage of their voting record for their Presidential run in 2016, or merely making it through the 2008 elections, that they have no real interest in passing responsible legislation; their only interest is in pandering to 12 million potential new voters they can’t wait to schmoooz.

Further proof lies in the lack of Social Security reform. Yes, sorting out Social Security will be painstaking and political suicide, but the necessity of viable reform cannot be put off until the system collapses under its own weight in 30 years and starts writing checks that the rest of the economy cannot cash. Politicians will continue to hit the birdie back over the net until they are comfortably lounging in their retirements, leaving working class America looking for answers to their unfilled promises. Of course, this crop of politicians will be long forgotten, their names never to be reviled as appropriate.

Lawmakers, if there are any left by then will be actually fixing Social Security, and passing laws that are competently assembled and meaningful to their primary objectives; public safety, commerce, and advancing the founding principles of this nation.

When we are attacked again, and establish that the perpetrators leveraged the gapping holes in our immigration system, we won’t be “connecting the dots” to the resident of the White House, the dots will be connected throughout the halls of Congress. Lawmakers, step up and be counted. Politicians go home.