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Sorceren's avatar

Should Congress downsize to help the economy?

Asked by Sorceren (666points) February 2nd, 2009

This writer says that we could save more than $8 TRILLION if we forced Congress to do what the economy is forcing regular businesses to do:

“When a company falls on difficult times, one of the things that seems to happen is they reduce their staff and workers. The remaining workers need to find ways to continue to do a good job or risk that their job would be eliminated as well. Wall Street and the media normally congratulate the CEO for making this type of “tough decision”, and his board of directors gives him a big bonus.

Our government should not be immune from similar risks.

Therefore: Reduce the House of Representatives from the current 435 members to 218 members and Senate members from 100 to 50 (one per State). Also reduce remaining staff by 25%.”

Try not to stick out your tongue at the source, folks:

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7 Answers

robmandu's avatar

I might suggest a different tack, but I like the idea!

EmpressPixie's avatar

So changing the size of the House is as simple as putting through a law regarding size which could not, realistically, be done until the 2010 census is complete as history shows we wait for the census to re-apportion congressional districts.

Changing the size of the Senate would require a Constitutional amendment.

So… changing the size is a ridiculous idea. However, I would be in favor of reducing salary or something like that.

Sorceren's avatar

@EmpressPixie—I take it you didn’t read the article? He says it would take place over an 8-year period.

How exactly would you go about “reducing salary,” when Congress can and does vote itself a raise every year?

It’s too bad there’s no “Stupid Question!” or “Stupid Answer” votebox, isn’t it? :)

steve6's avatar

The numbers in the Houses were thought out very carefully to provide checks and balances with the other two branches of government. There are myriad other places to cut gov. without affecting the representative system.

EmpressPixie's avatar

I did read the article. I do not think 8 years is sufficient time to EITHER pass said law OR amend the Constitution.

Congress would have to choose to change it’s own size—the law would have to pass through both Houses and the President would have to give it the okay. The Amendment process is even harder.

The Constitution is not a document to be changed on a whim. The amendment process is built to ensure that.

It would be far easier to convince Congress to vote for a pay cut than to pass that law or amendment.

Sorceren's avatar

@steve6, to paraphrase the liberal objection to keeping the Constitution as is, “Communications have changed! Congress ought to be more efficient!” Contrast our many means of instant communication, and the ability of thousands of people to respond to a single poll question, to the often weeks-long process that was communicating only one way with our representatives when this document was drafted. Contrast the huge amounts of money Congress can currently waste with the amounts the Founders could imagine their friends and neighbors voluntarily giving.

@EmpressPixie, Look at the 17th Amendment, which whimsically (and profitably) made our Senators elected instead of appointed by the States whose interests they were supposed to be protecting. It’s clear proof of the day that the Senate realized how to hack the amendment process and stay incumbent forever. As you surmise, it would now be next to impossible via ordinary politics to exercise a right stipulated under the First Amendment, “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” and get something like this done, ever, much less in time to make a difference.

Cicero probably said it, something like, “Laws that reduce the Senate’s power never even come to a vote.” So it would have to be either an Executive Order/Demand or an amendment to the Constitution by unanimous demand (though probably not on CNN). I wonder: If he believes that government really should set an example for the world by walking in the voters’ shoes, is Obama is this brave?

MENSAN's avatar

William Shakespeare (1564–1616) already supplied an answer, centuries ago, for fixing the USA’s ills, when he wrote the play, “HENRY VI PART II”:

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – (Act IV, Scene II)

They (collectively) have caused ALL of the nation’s problems, so eliminating them would certainly be a most positive step in the right direction.

So, who would replace those Congressfolk who were missing, after “The Purge?” Again, that’s already been answered, in a manner of speaking, by the late William F. Buckley Jr. (1925–2008) who said, quote, “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

This assumes, of course, that the first 400 folks listed in the Boston telephone directory would accept the appointment, were it to be offered, and if all of them did, then the US Congress, for the very first time in its history, would be comprised of individuals whose surnames all begin with the letter “A.”

Do I hear a “second” to this proposal?

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