Thursday, 28 July 2011

Devil in the Details

  Everyone is talking about the apocalyptic crisis that the competing Reid Senate and Boehner House bills are suppose to forestall but have you actually read the proposed bills? If you do then you’ll become aware of the Kabuki theatre which this is all about. I’m not going to deal with the House bill because as far as I can see it’s dead in the water already. Here is the content page of the Reid Senate bill.

This Act is as follows:

Sec.1.Short title and table of contents.


Sec.101.Discretionary spending limits. Sec.102.Senate budget enforcement.TITLE II—OTHER SPENDING CUTSSubtitle A—Spectrum Auction Proposals and Public Safety BroadbandNetwork



Sec.221.Clarification of authorities to repurpose Federal spectrum for com-mercial purposes.Sec.222.Incentive auction authority.Sec.223.Incentive auctions to repurpose certain mobile satellite services spec-trum for terrestrial broadband use.Sec.224.Permanent extension of auction authority.Sec.225.Authority to auction licenses for domestic satellite services.Sec.226.Auction of spectrum.Sec.227.Report to Congress on improving spectrum management. PART II—PUBLIC SAFETY BROADBAND NETWORK

Sec.241.Reallocation of D Block for public safety.Sec.242.Flexible use of narrowband spectrum.Sec.243.Public Safety Trust Fund.Sec.244.Public safety research and development.Sec.245.Incentive auction relocation fund.Sec.246.Federal infrastructure sharing.Sec.247.FCC report on efficient use of public safety spectrum. Subtitle B—Federal Pell Grant and Student Loan Program ChangesSec.251.Federal Pell Grant and student loan program changes. Subtitle C—Farm ProgramsSec.261.Definition of payment acres. TITLE III—JOINT SELECT COMMITTEE ON DEFICIT REDUCTIONSec.301.Establishment of Joint Select Committee.Sec.302.Expedited consideration of joint committee recommendations.Sec.303.Funding.Sec.304.Rulemaking.TITLE IV—PUBLIC DEBTSec.401.Public debt.

  As you can see most of the bill content page is not about the “doom that waits” but about the sale of public wireless spectrum, Pell grants and farm programs. Don’t you think that this is strange given the hourly dire warnings in the various media?  Actually the Title II pertaining to the public wireless spectrum and other issues extraneous to debt reduction starts on page 42 of a 104 page document. Thus do these items suggest to you that the Washington priorities are really different from all of the publically stated ones and that the fix is in?  Of course, the really interesting stuff is in the last couple of pages of the document under Title III – joint select committee on deficit reduction (JSCODR) which is a good place to hide stuff that you don’t want people to notice.

  Let’s talk about this extra-constitutional body based on the bill. It might give us some insights into the thinking of Washington insiders on democratic rule. The members are picked by the Senate majority leader (3), Senate minority leader (3), House majority leader (3) and House minority leader (3) giving a total of 12 members whose presence on the committee is in perpetuity (let’s keep the masses out of this forever!) baring some major ethics violation.  From this group one co-chair is chosen by the Senate majority leader and one by the House majority leader.

  Once the committee has produced a document, “the joint committee bill shall be considered as read. All points of order against the joint committee bill and against its consideration are waived.” In essence this means that all of the elected representatives of the people have no input. Also “consideration of the joint committee bill and of all debatable motions and appeals in connection there within shall not exceed a total of 30 hours which shall be divided equally between the Majority and Minority Leaders or their designees.” Interpretation – let’s get this over fast!  You don’t like what you see? Too bad! “An amendment to the joint committee bill, or a motion to postpone, or a motion to proceed to the consideration of other business, or a motion to recommit the joint committee bill, is not in order.” Finally the Senate does not debate the bill presented from the house as its previously constitutional right allows. Major change here!

  This bill is basically an enabling act. What’s important about that?  Well how about the German enabling act of 1933 which allowed Hitler to gain power. (Ok. Godwin’s law moment but give me some latitude here folks.) From Wikipedia:

It received its name from its legal status as an enabling act granting the Cabinet the authority to enact laws without the participation of the Reichstag. The act stated that it was to last for four years unless renewed by the Reichstag, which occurred twice.

The formal name of the Enabling Act was Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (English: "Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich").

  Do you think that the current Supreme Court will disallow this bill as unconstitutional which it clearly is? Do pigs fly?

1 comment:

  1. "Do you think that the current Supreme Court will disallow this bill as unconstitutional which it clearly is"

    -This Supreme Court?? Never.