October 2, 2008
A Curmudgeonly Law Librarian Suggestion: Read a Publicly Distributed Bailout Bill Before You Vote and After We Get an Opportunity to Comment on It
I've been told that some blog readers turn to LLB because I'm the unoffical curmudgeon in the law librarian blogosphere. Me, a grouch? Well, if in the manner of Jack Cafferty, I'm honored.
Sourpuss Alert. Last night, the Senate passed its version of the bailout bill. That bill was 451 pages long and was released less than 24 hours before the roll call. Think the 99 voting senators read it? Think that their staffers did? Hell no, the only people who read the bill were financial industry lobbyists, the same ones whose bought and paid-for politicians are now responsible for solving the financial industry crisis they helped create.
It is appalling that Congress posted this massive document [text of H.R. 1424; yesterday morning's unsuccessful LLB search for it]the very day they intend to vote on the bill. Now more than ever, we the taxpayers need to tell Congress enough is enough. We can't expect that citizens or lawmakers themselves can decipher such broad legislation in such a short period of time.
Luckily "sweeteners" added to the Senate's bill could make the bailout package sour for House Democrats so there's still time to tell your elected representatives to read the damn bill before voting. PublicMarkup suggests a 72-hour cooling off period before voting with the clock ticking from the time the bill is publically available to all of us via something called the Web. Sign their petition if you think this is a good idea.
Too Much to Ask that Public Comments Be Read Too? Since the House's email system took a dive because its servers could not handle the increased email traffic when the House version of the bill was released, it might be "helpful" to suggest that Congress also read the public comments posted on PublicMarkup's website for the legislation:
- Senate Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (passed)
- House Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (voted down)
Or it might be fanciful to think that they care about public comments from taxpayers. What the hell, add your comments to the Senate version of the bill for the record. Someday historians might be interested in how web communications technology was used (or ignored) in the early 21st century.
Write Your Representative Now. And before I step off this soapbox, I think legal information professionals should also write their representatives to demand that they follow up on Dan O'Neil's suggestion that the final bailout bill require public disclosure of all mortgage security instruments we buy.
It's the Web, stupid. [JH]
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Thank-you for the article...hopefully it will encourage people to think.....
the e-mail links are always a huge help.
Posted by: Auntie nanuuq | Oct 2, 2008 10:03:49 AM
But Barack "The One We Have Been Waiting For" Obama voted for it and I'm sure he simply waived his hands over it and understood it.
As a bonus, how much money did Obama get from Fannie and Freddie? Wasn't he #2 behind Dodd? Oh, they are both Democrats, aren't they?
Posted by: anon | Oct 2, 2008 7:26:48 AM
They do this time of thing regularly, and it's naive to expect them to change on their own: they've learned that no matter how angry people get, there's no real damage to them, no matter how they act.
Given that, there must be a more effective solution than just writing letters.
Posted by: Michael | Oct 2, 2008 5:10:24 AM