Third Party & Independents Archives

The Congressional Reform Act of 2011

We, the people, are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts; not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” — Abraham Lincoln

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” — Patrick Henry

There is no distinctly American criminal class – except Congress.” — Mark Twain

With these insights in mind, I propose the immediate implementation of the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: The Congressional Reform Act of 2011

Article 1. No member of Congress shall serve a period of more than a total of six years in office, regardless of position, party affiliation or circumstance.

Article 2. Congress shall be subject to – without exception – all laws enacted within the United States of America, regardless of circumstance or intent. Congress shall neither receive nor be afforded any dispensation, immunity, excuse or recusal from the penalty of law in all cases relating to their individual behavior, indiscretion and/or participation in or knowledge of an act that is deemed illegal.

Article 3. All members of Congress shall collect a salary of no more than $125,000 per year while serving in office and receives no pay, benefits or incentives when not serving in office.

Article 4. Other than Congressional salary, no member of Congress shall be allowed or able to personally or peripherally profit from the activities of Congress at any time before, during or after their period of service. Any action resulting from personal profit through either knowledge of or involvement in the activities of Congress by a member of Congress shall be inarguably construed as profiteering and shall be subject to the full weight of applicable law without exception or interpretation – as determined in Article 3 of this Amendment.

Article 5. Congress shall not have the ability to increase Congressional pay or benefits. Congressional pay will rise only upon approval by a simple numerical majority of citizens of the United States via full public disclosure prior to implementation of any financial adjustment. With a citizen majority approval, Congressional pay and/or incentives shall only increase by either 3% or the federal Cost of Living Allowance, which ever is lower. Any adjustment to Congressional compensation shall be merit-based, and in no way automatic, obligatory or expected as an entitlement of Congress. Congressional pay and/or benefits shall not be increased more than one time in any four-year period.

Article 6. No member of Congress shall, under any circumstances, accept or receive any form of payment, gift, compensation, remuneration, incentive or offering – regardless of amount – from any individual or group that has any business, concern or proposal – past, present or future – under consideration or proposed for action by any element or component of the United States Congress. Violations of this amendment shall never, under any circumstances, be treated as other than a violation of law(s), and shall therefore be subject to the full penalty of applicable law(s) without equivocation.

Article 7. Congress (past, present & future) shall participate in the United States Social Security program with no alternative or opt-out option unless such an option is available to all American citizens. All funds in the current Congressional retirement fund and accounts shall be moved into the Social Security system immediately. All members of Congress are taxed equitably by the Social Security system. No cap or restriction of any kind shall be imposed on the amount of income that is subject to the existing Social Security tax rate. Social Security funds shall never, under any circumstances, be used for any purpose other than the payment of benefits to legitimate, tax-paying Social Security recipient citizens of the United States.

Article 8. No member of Congress shall have access to any form of tax reduction, exemption or deduction that is not available to any American citizen, regardless of income or position.

Article 9. No member of Congress shall have access to or the ability to obtain any health care options and services that are not available to the common individual citizen, regardless of income level. All members of Congress shall obtain their health insurance coverage and services from the commercial industry market as available to all common American citizens. No member of Congress shall have access to any health care insurance or service that is not available to an American taxpayer at the lowest income level.

Article 10. No member of Congress shall, under any circumstances, introduce or include any legislation, amendment, consideration or proposal into any bill that does not directly and clearly relate to the primary subject and focus of said bill. The applicability of all secondary proposals, amendments, riders and additional legislation presented for inclusion in any given bill shall not be subject to the interpretation, will or intent of the member of Congress proposing it. All issues, singular or otherwise, shall be acted upon as separate and distinct legislation of its own merit and accord.

Article 11. All members of Congress shall conduct themselves in accordance with the stated will of the electorate as a whole. No member of Congress shall ever act or perform on behalf of any specific sub-group or segment of the electorate, or by dictation of the statistical or implied will of any representative of any individual or group who does not represent the United States of America as a unified entity.

Article 12. No legislation, regardless of intent or content, shall be debated or delayed for longer than 30 calendar days. Upon the 30th day, if passage has not been achieved, a simple numerical majority up-or-down vote shall be implemented and voted upon on that day and shall not be postponed or delayed further for any reason. Any request or attempt to delay legislation must be fully disclosed to the American public immediately on that 30th day or before.

Article 13. No legislation shall be presented or acted upon that has an implementation or effective date that exceeds five calendar years from the date of the legislation becoming law.

Article 14. No member of Congress shall exclude or recess themselves from session when national legislation remains unresolved. No member of Congress shall recess for the purpose of delaying or politicizing any given issue or item of legislation. No member of Congress shall implement tactics or behavior that in any way impedes the completion of legislative action. No member of Congress shall engage in any activity that impacts legislation that occurs for any purpose of evasion or mental reservation. Failure to comply with this Article shall be cause for immediate and permanent removal from office.

Article 15. No part or parcel of this Amendment shall be subject to interpretation or circumstantial revision by any individual or group without the expressed consent of a numerical majority of registered American voters.

Article 16. All existing or pending contracts with any and all members of Congress – past, present and future – are null and void, immediately and permanently upon passage of this Amendment.

Posted by Gary St. Lawrence at July 30, 2011 1:39 PM
Comments
Comment #326732

That amendment will go as far as the balanced budget amendment. NOWHERE

Posted by: KAP at July 30, 2011 4:05 PM
Comment #326739


Article 7. says Congress must participate in the social security program or get rid of it.

Article 11. says that if the majority in any particular Congressional District disagrees with the unified consensus in the country, their representative must vote with the whole rather than those who elected them. The language seems to suggest that.

Article 17. From this day forward, the people shall take responsibility for their governments actions rather than scapegoating their government.

Article 18. All members of Congress shall defeat a primary candidate as well as a general election candidate to gain reelection. The primary candidate shall be selected from a field of candidates in a pre primary election.

For a minute, I thought Article 5. was calling for a direct vote of the citizens on Congressional pay increases. Surely we wouldn’t want to let that cat out of the bag. The next thing you know is the people wanting a direct vote or veto power on the Bush tax cuts. or on going to war.

Posted by: jlw at July 30, 2011 5:32 PM
Comment #326747

I think we should start repealing amemdments, not adding more.

Posted by: Weary Willie at July 31, 2011 12:34 AM
Comment #326793

Right on WW, abolish ‘corporate personhood’ and ‘money is free speech’.

It’s clear that gov’t has failed and we are being governed by Corpocracy. It is not possible for our representatives to return gov’t to the people. The people must find a way to remove the Corpocracy, elect new representatives, etc.

The only way we can do that is through a 3rd party with a diff … oversight for representatives through party members … reject representatives who fail to pursue the party’s agenda …

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at July 31, 2011 7:03 PM
Comment #326801


Roy, Both of those will take a Constitutional amendment, I wonder which party will be the first to introduce them in Congress? I am hoping it is the Progressive Party of America.

Posted by: jlw at July 31, 2011 7:46 PM
Comment #326821
jlw wrote: Article 7. says Congress must participate in the social security program or get rid of it.

No, it doesn’t. It says that Congress will participate in Social Security, period.

jlw wrote: Article 11. says that if the majority in any particular Congressional District disagrees with the unified consensus in the country, their representative must vote with the whole rather than those who elected them. The language seems to suggest that.

No, it doesn’t. You really shouldn’t get stoned just before reading.

jlw wrote: Article 17. From this day forward, the people shall take responsibility for their governments actions rather than scapegoating their government.

Are you reading the Bizarro-Earth version of this?

jlw wrote: Article 18. All members of Congress shall defeat a primary candidate as well as a general election candidate to gain reelection. The primary candidate shall be selected from a field of candidates in a pre primary election.

You’re delusional.

jlw wrote: For a minute, I thought Article 5. was calling for a direct vote of the citizens on Congressional pay increases. Surely we wouldn’t want to let that cat out of the bag. The next thing you know is the people wanting a direct vote or veto power on the Bush tax cuts. or on going to war.

No, your beloved “Super Congress” will now do that.

You have the single-most distorted and ill-informed set of opinions I have ever encountered, anywhere.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at August 1, 2011 2:36 AM
Comment #326882

“Article 7. Congress (past, present & future) shall participate in the United States Social Security program with no alternative or opt-out option unless such an option is available to all American citizens.”

Gary,

Done. Since 1984, all members of Congress have been required to participate in Social Security. http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30631.pdf The only exception to your amendment would be that members elected prior to 1984 and who had retired prior to that year would be exempt.

Posted by: Rich at August 1, 2011 8:26 PM
Comment #326907


Gary, hopefully without relying on personal attacks, I firmly admit that my grasp of language is rather poor, But IMO, some of the language you use is open to interpretation.

Article 7. Perhaps you are right, perhaps I am stupid, I am certainly not the brightest bulb burning, but IMO, the use of the word “unless” implies that Congress if it so wishes, can pass an option to Social Security that is open to all that so wish to participate. Virtually any option to Social Security open to all to participate would destroy Social Security.

Article 11. IMO, the use of the phrase “the stated will of the electorate as a whole” has implications for individual Congressional Districts which are de facto special interest groups. There are districts that are progressive, liberal, and conservative. The stated will of these districts often differs considerably from each other and could differ considerably from “the stated will of the electorate as a whole.”

In Congressional legislation, ambiguities open to interpretation are often called loopholes.

What is “the stated will of the electorate as a whole.” anyway? How do we determine that, polls? Was the will of the electorate as a whole responsible for returning Congress to the Republicans in 2010?

My so called beloved “Super Congress” is composed of one person, Sen. Brown (D,Oh.) a quasi progressive. With the exception of Brown, I have been exercising my vote by voting for anyone that is not a Democrat or a Republican. Can you say the same. The American people have been presented with options, other than bitching about their government. Roy presents some good ones often. Are the American people listening to those options? Are they willing to do something about it? IMO, to say that the Democrats and the Republicans have a lock on the election process is a convenient cop out for most Americans. If the people don’t like their government they can do something about besides bitching or playing the partisan game.

According to Hoyer and Boehner, on one of the Sunday not news shows, the will of the people as a whole is adamantly opposed to public financing of elections.

We live in an investor economy now, they are now the largest voting block. Ask the corporations how much of a pain their investors have become with their greed based demands?

Posted by: jlw at August 2, 2011 4:24 PM
Comment #326931

This video needs to go viral.

Posted by: Gary St. Lawrence at August 2, 2011 10:34 PM
Comment #330695

Article 5: Tying congressional raises to CPI is already so. BUT - their CPI isn’t the same as the one governing the raises for Social Security Recipients. So there have been recent years when Congress received raises - and Social Security recpients did not. Congressional raises should be tied to Social Security raises. Also - who determines, and on what basis, what are merit-based (referencing pay increases) - i.e., what merit? How is merit determined?

The basic ideas of this Amendment are principles I agree with. I believe that several of the Articles need refining & tweaking in order to stand a better chance of accomplishing what their goal is. For example - The ways of addressing the corporate personhood issue seem unclear - at least to this reader.

Thank you for a thoughtful & important proposal, Mr. St Lawrence.

Posted by: Dakota at October 18, 2011 6:59 PM
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