The Ethical Spectacle, August 1995,

Congress' Amusing Antics

Congress' Amusing Antics

I wrote this a few months ago, so the Congressional actions mentioned are somewhat old news, but still amusing.

Congressmen have never had a very strongly developed sense of the ludicrous. A few recent airings of profound double standards have entertainment value as well.

I reported recently that the House had passed legislation severely pruning back the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, allowing warrantless federal searches to stand up if the agents can persuade a judge that they acted based on a good faith belief that they had a right to search. But the House held one agency to the stricter standards, the BATF, which, as we all know, enforces federal gun laws, such as they are.

Another recent article dealt with the FDA, which the Contract Republicans are targeting for demolition. Well, one of the Republican sponsors of the anti-FDA measures recently commented that he hoped the FDA (targeted for being too bureaucratic) would tie up RU-486, the French abortion pill, for as long as possible.

Speaker Gingrich appointed a colleague of his to make a list of Federal subsidies that could be eliminated. On the preliminary draft list was cheap electric power in the Northwest, which costs one-fifth of what I pay in New York City. Otherwise loyal Contract Republicans are screaming with anguish, on behalf of their constituents who will have to pay market prices for power. Can't wait to see the House take on grazing fees, or my personal favorite, the World War One-era chinchilla subsidy, next.

Are we having fun yet? If not, then how about this: the Contract Republicans promised term limits of six or twelve years. The first committee proposal dealing with the issue provides for twelve years in Congress, a two year hiatus, then twelve more years--in other words, a Congressperson may not serve more than 24 out of 26 years. Here's a modest proposal: why not add full pay for the two year hiatus, just to keep 'em out of trouble, and rename it the "Public Servant Sabbatical Act"?

The House defeated term limits during March, no surprise.