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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5545/shining-a-light-on-the-dark-corners-of-the-senate/

Shining a Light on the Dark Corners of the Senate

August 29, 2006 by

In this age of internet-enabled politics the smoke-filled backrooms of politics as usual are having a hard time keeping the answer to “cui bono” a secret.

One site has observed that currently the government has no “system for assimilating, organizing, and releasing information on the hundreds of billions of tax dollars that are spent each year on federal grants and contracts.”

As the Judicial Watch blog points out: “Management, fraud, and corruption thrive in a closed system where information is unavailable to the public.

On April 6, Sen. Tom Coburn introduced a bill (s.2590) that would require the government create a searchable web site, similiar to Google, that would list the name and amount of any federal grant, contract or other award of money amounting to $25,000 or more.

However, despite bi-partisan support, The Federal Times has reported that one senator has a “secret hold” on the bill. According to unofficial Senate parliamentary tradition, a single senator can anonymously delay action.

Fortunately, the whole political world is now searching for the senator that put a hold on the bill. A phenomenon impossible without the technological advances in communications due to the internet.

Sen. “Series of Tubes” Stevens appears to be the odds on favourite.

If public pressure fails, the Senate Majority Leader can overcome the hold by forcing the issue onto the floor and passing by 60+ votes.

I hope a few more years of the spotlight turned on will provide us with many more victories and rid us of these dinosaurs forever.


Mark Brabson August 30, 2006 at 7:57 am

There is only one thing that can reform the Senate, and that is a rules change to bring back the “previous question”, which was dumped from the Senate back in 1806. For anybody unfamiliar with parliamentary procedure, the motion for the previous question, upon adoption, immediately cuts off all debate, amendment and subsidiary motions and brings the bill or resolution to an immediate vote. As in the House of Representatives, this motion should be adoptable by a majority of members present and voting.

As it is, the Senate is so corrupt and innefficient because of the fact that a single member can delay and obstruct and thus can use that ability to coerce pork and favorable legislation for themselves.

TGGP August 30, 2006 at 8:09 am

My bet is that the new database will be of all the quality we expect from a government endeavor.

StewartT August 30, 2006 at 10:16 am

…the obvious question is ‘Why’ [??] would the U.S. Senate/Congress ultimately vote to install such a database.

Is it in their self-interest to publicly expose the intricate & corrupt network of spending-decisons and special-interests/lobbyists ?

Of course not — and it won’t happen.

One or two ‘honest’ Senators will not change fundamental aspects of the institution … merely by ‘introducing’ a reform bill, that will never be enacted by the rest of their fellows.

Note that Congress consistently refuses to provide even a simple public web database of the formal voting record of its members … that mindset is still set in concrete.

Congress has no interest in genuine reform.

Mark Brabson August 30, 2006 at 10:35 am

Another helpful change could only be accomplished Constitutionally, unfortunately.

Abolish the 17th Amendment and return election of Senator’s to the state legislatures. Decrease Senatorial terms to four years and cause all Senator’s to be elected in the same year as the President. A one or two term limit would also be helpful.

The ultimate problem is not databases or such. It is the United States Senate itself. The United States Senate is without a doubt the most arrogant, corrupt and inefficient legislative body in the entire world.

I have studied its history, from its beginning on March 4th, 1789 up to the present day. It’s whole history is a history of stupidity. That is power brokers are Robert “KKK” Byrd, Ted “Chappaquidick” Kennedy and Ted “Bridge to Nowhere” Stevens does not promise much for the future.

Brian Moore August 30, 2006 at 12:14 pm

Looks like its Stevens. Couldn’t have asked for a better guy for the job!

Paul Marks August 30, 2006 at 3:16 pm

It is important to remember that the real threat to the United States is not pork barrel stuff – the real threat is the entitlement programs.

The rise in spending on such things as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid over the decades is what matters.

Of course even if government spending was rolled back there would still be the problem of the credit bubble monetary system.

Mark Brabson August 30, 2006 at 3:42 pm

I have now confirmed that Senator Ted “Bridge to Nowhere” Stevens is indeed the Senator that has placed the hold on this legislation.

Nick Bradley August 30, 2006 at 4:37 pm

Sen. Coburn, the freshman Senator from OK, is one of the more free-market oriented senators in office. He tried to kill Stevens’ “Bridge to nowhere” and Stavens threw a tantrum on the floor of the Senate and threatened to resign if Coburn did not stop his opposition. Frist convinced Coburn to stand down, and that was that. Needless to say, the two are not fond of each other and just puts more evidence behind Stevens being the culprit.

R. P. Churchill August 30, 2006 at 4:43 pm

Actually, “series of tubes” is not a bad analogy…

But never mind that. Even if such a thing passes (which it won’t for reasons stated above) you can bet that within ten seconds they’ll be building their bridges to nowhere by sending a truckload of checks for $24,999.99.

Jones August 30, 2006 at 6:50 pm


“Series of tubes” is a horrible analogy. It is like saying a book is nothing more than a bunch of printed blocks of symbols. You completely miss the real meaning and intent.

If you want to talk about the infrastructure of the internet there is a much more intelligent way of going about it.

Read the entire text of his speech and try to make sense of it.

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