Keep It Simple?

by Patrick Appel

Publius responds to Conor Friedersdorf's plea for shorter, simpler legislation:

I think the government sometimes has to pass big complex legislation.  Assuming you accept that premise, then you should prefer Congress to go ahead and spell all this detail out.  Otherwise, the questions would be shifted to the agencies -- where non-transparency and capture are a trillion times worse.

I side with Publius on this. Also, as a friend who works on the hill pointed out to me, there are often politically unpopular but necessary parts of comprehensive bills that would never get passed on their own. Compromises have to be packaged together. An example: funds to hospitals are being cut as part of health care reform. These cuts makes sense in the context of the bill but no representative is going to sign onto a bill that cuts payments to hospitals and nothing else. The attack ads write themselves. I fully endorse Publius's other point:

I'd like to see a waiting period between the final release of legislation and the vote.  The public could then go all "Army of Davids" on the legislation, which would enhance transparency, democratic deliberation, etc.