Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Real Problem With Cap & Trade Legislation

The real problem with the cap and trade legislation is that it's entirely possible that no one person knows everything that is in it. This is particularly sad since 400 or so of our duly elected representatives recently undertook a vote to see if it should become the law of the land.

Here is how Open Congress described the process (emphasis mine):
Complicating matters is the sheer length of the bill — H.R. 2454 weighed in at 1091 pages. The substitute bill that was dropped this week is 1200 pages long! And, as if to add insult to injury, there are 300 pages of material included today [that is Friday, the day of the vote] based upon committee action yesterday.

I wrote last week that OpenCongress can be an incredible resource for citizens, reporters and activists looking for information on Congress, but cautioned that this is only true when Congress makes that information available. With the case of the American Clean Energy And Security Act, this simply wasn’t possible. Members of the House were given precious little time to determine the policy outcomes of this legislation, due to its size, the different versions released, and the time frame provided for action (Speaker Nancy Pelosi had sought a vote before next week’s 4th of July recess). Members of the public were given even less time.

This is an absolutely terrible way to govern. It is especially galling given that President Obama trumpeted transparency during the campaign.

Of course, with so many pages, maybe there are some really great things buried in there and I should stop worrying about the bill's potential cost and criticizing Steve Kagen (D -WI) for his 'yes' vote.

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