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Reforming Government, Campaigns, and Elections

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  • Reforming Government, Campaigns, and Elections

    Over the years, I have laid out a variety of reform proposals on the forum that I thought it would be interesting to pull together into a single thread for discussion. For the purposes of discussion, let's assume fiat ability to implement any or all of these.

    Government Reform:
    • Decentralize the Federal Government by moving agency headquarters around the country. I would propose allowing states to bid on 20-year hosting rights for each department/agency, but now agency may be headquartered within 100 miles of another.
    • Limit the number of days that members of Congress may be in the D.C. Most day-to-day business should be conducted through teleconferencing/telecommuting, with Congress assembling in person only occasionally. Make them live and work in their home states/districts.
    • Eliminate all defined-benefit pension plans for elected officials and government employees. They should have defined contribution to private 401k plans.
    • All federal officials and employees (including judges and justices) will be enrolled in Medicare as their government provided healthcare plan.
    • The first term pay of members of Congress should be tripled (and indexed to inflation), but that pay should be cut by 10 percent per term served, but no lower than the median wage of their state.
    • The Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution shall be amended to apply only to immunity from libel and slander for floor speeches and entries into the Congressional record. It will not apply to any other communications (including with their own staff other than the preparation of floor speeches and official entries into the record) and will not protect against violations of national security related-statutes.
    • The current District of Columbia will be reduced in geographic area to a small area encompassing the Capital, Supreme Court, White House, National Mall (and museums and monuments around it). The remainder will be retroceeded to the State of Maryland.
    • Committee Assignments (proportional to the balance of members between the two parties) in the House and the Senate will be assigned randomly based on the number of committee seats available and those members who have indicated a desire to be on a particular committee. This will be done in rounds, with members removed from random selection for other committees for the remainder of each round once their name has been selected in that round.
    • Committee chairs and ranking member shall be selected by a majority vote of the members of the committee, the Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders in the House, and the committee members, Senate Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate.
    • No member may serve on the same committee for more than three terms.
    • In the Senate, the legislative filibuster will be sacrosanct, requiring 60 votes to end debate, but debate must continue on the Senate floor for the duration of the filibuster, and no other business may be conducted on the floor during that time.
    • The tradition of single Senators blocking nominations for appointments in their states will be abolished.
    • For all Executive Branch appointments, confirmable by the Senate, there will be an up or down vote within 60 days of nomination on the Senate floor.
    • For all judicial appointments, the cloture rule will be 55 votes, and require that floor debate continue for the duration.
    • The current nine-justice Supreme Court will be adjusted to a floating (non-even) number of Justices. Every President, upon his inauguration to a term, may appoint one new Justice to the court, replacing the longest serving justice appointed by a President of the same party.


    Campaign Reform:
    • Any citizen may contribute any amount they wish to the campaign of any candidate running in a race in which that citizen is eligible to vote. No other individuals or entities may contribute to campaigns.
    • Campaigns must hold any contribution in escrow until the contributor and amount of the contribution are disclosed publicly on an FEC website established for this purpose.
    • Candidates may not loan money to their campaigns. Like any other individual who is eligible to contribute to the campaign, they may directly contribute, but not loan with the expectation of repayment.
    • Quarterly FEC disclosure requirements will be increased to every four weeks, with the Thursday before the next election being a required filing date, and every fourth Thursday prior to that date back to the previous election.
    • Campaigns may not incur financial obligations beyond their ability to pay. Funds sufficient to cover any financial obligations entered into must immediately be transferred into a segregated account, out of which such obligations will be paid upon delivery of goods or services agreed to.
    • Campaigns with excess funds on hand after the final certification of the election and completion of any legal challenges will be transferred to the U.S. Treasury. No goods or services contracts may be entered into by the campaign on or after election day other than legal and other goods and services related to election contest/protest and related appeals.
    • Independent expenditures by any citizen, legal resident, or organization incorporated in the U.S. are permitted, but presumption of independence will be heavily impaired by contacts between candidates or agents of their campaigns and those making decisions on independent expenditures.
    • Severe criminal penalties for violations will be put in place.
    • If a candidate is shown to have had knowledge (or their lack of knowledge represents gross negligence) of any significant violation of these provisions, a threshold will be established by which it can invalidate the election (save for Presidential elections, in which case this should be impeachable for any office holder who knew or should have known...including the President and Vice President).
    • For Presidential General Elections, the Vice President is treated, under the law, has the same legal obligations for due diligence in governance and administration of the campaign as the Presidential candidate.

    Electoral Reform:
    • The size and apportionment of the House of Representatives shall be based on the number of citizens. With states allocated one representative for every 50,000 citizens (rounded to the nearest 50,000).
    • The 17th Amendment will be repealed, with Senators to be appointed by the states to represent the interest of the states as sovereign entities.
    • The number of Senators shall be increased to six per state, with one appointed by the governor, and one by the legislature of each state every two years.
    • For purposes of the electoral college, the Presidential/Vice Presidential ticket winning the plurality of votes in each congressional district will receive that electoral college vote, with the ticket receiving the plurality of votes state-wide will receive the state's six additional, at-large, electoral votes.

  • #2
    Looks like some excellent ideas.

    I don't know how they could possibly happen, given the inertia & corruption that we have going on today though.

    Still, I'd love to see them done ..

    ?


    • #3
      Originally posted by Captain Trips View Post
      Looks like some excellent ideas.

      I don't know how they could possibly happen, given the inertia & corruption that we have going on today though.

      Still, I'd love to see them done ..
      As I said, this is for discussion purposes, assuming fiat ability to implement. I like to think that most of these are fairly non-partisan in terms of how they might impact one party or the other in any immediate sense (save perhaps for the revisions to the number, terms, and manner of appointment of Senators); though many of them I think would have a decidedly conservative impact over time as many of the institutional biases that infuse the current "swamp" would be dissipated over time due to increased democratic pressure from constituents. Some of the ideas are less fleshed out than others, but I am open to refining/revisiting them.

      ?


      • #4
        Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post
        Over the years, I have laid out a variety of reform proposals on the forum that I thought it would be interesting to pull together into a single thread for discussion. For the purposes of discussion, let's assume fiat ability to implement any or all of these.

        Government Reform:
        • Limit the number of days that members of Congress may be in the D.C. Most day-to-day business should be conducted through teleconferencing/telecommuting, with Congress assembling in person only occasionally. Make them live and work in their home states/districts.

          Yes
        • Eliminate all defined-benefit pension plans for elected officials and government employees. They should have defined contribution to private 401k plans.

          Yes
        • All federal officials and employees (including judges and justices) will be enrolled in Medicare as their government provided healthcare plan.

          Yes
        • The first term pay of members of Congress should be tripled (and indexed to inflation), but that pay should be cut by 10 percent per term served, but no lower than the median wage of their state.

          Maybe
        • The Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution shall be amended to apply only to immunity from libel and slander for floor speeches and entries into the Congressional record. It will not apply to any other communications (including with their own staff other than the preparation of floor speeches and official entries into the record) and will not protect against violations of national security related-statutes.

          Maybe
        • The current District of Columbia will be reduced in geographic area to a small area encompassing the Capital, Supreme Court, White House, National Mall (and museums and monuments around it). The remainder will be retroceeded to the State of Maryland.

          Yes
        • Committee Assignments (proportional to the balance of members between the two parties) in the House and the Senate will be assigned randomly based on the number of committee seats available and those members who have indicated a desire to be on a particular committee. This will be done in rounds, with members removed from random selection for other committees for the remainder of each round once their name has been selected in that round.

          Maybe
        • Committee chairs and ranking member shall be selected by a majority vote of the members of the committee, the Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders in the House, and the committee members, Senate Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate.

          Maybe
        • No member may serve on the same committee for more than three terms.

          Yes
        • In the Senate, the legislative filibuster will be sacrosanct, requiring 60 votes to end debate, but debate must continue on the Senate floor for the duration of the filibuster, and no other business may be conducted on the floor during that time.

          Yes
        • The tradition of single Senators blocking nominations for appointments in their states will be abolished.

          Yes
        • For all Executive Branch appointments, confirmable by the Senate, there will be an up or down vote within 60 days of nomination on the Senate floor.

          Yes
        • For all judicial appointments, the cloture rule will be 55 votes, and require that floor debate continue for the duration.

          Yes
        • The current nine-justice Supreme Court will be adjusted to a floating (non-even) number of Justices. Every President, upon his inauguration to a term, may appoint one new Justice to the court, replacing the longest serving justice appointed by a President of the same party.


        Maybe

        Campaign Reform:
        • Any citizen may contribute any amount they wish to the campaign of any candidate running in a race in which that citizen is eligible to vote. No other individuals or entities may contribute to campaigns.

          Yes
        • Campaigns must hold any contribution in escrow until the contributor and amount of the contribution are disclosed publicly on an FEC website established for this purpose.

          Yes
        • Candidates may not loan money to their campaigns. Like any other individual who is eligible to contribute to the campaign, they may directly contribute, but not loan with the expectation of repayment.

          Yes
        • Quarterly FEC disclosure requirements will be increased to every four weeks, with the Thursday before the next election being a required filing date, and every fourth Thursday prior to that date back to the previous election.

          Maybe
        • Campaigns may not incur financial obligations beyond their ability to pay. Funds sufficient to cover any financial obligations entered into must immediately be transferred into a segregated account, out of which such obligations will be paid upon delivery of goods or services agreed to.

          Yes
        • Campaigns with excess funds on hand after the final certification of the election and completion of any legal challenges will be transferred to the U.S. Treasury. No goods or services contracts may be entered into by the campaign on or after election day other than legal and other goods and services related to election contest/protest and related appeals.

          Yes
        • Independent expenditures by any citizen, legal resident, or organization incorporated in the U.S. are permitted, but presumption of independence will be heavily impaired by contacts between candidates or agents of their campaigns and those making decisions on independent expenditures.
        • Severe criminal penalties for violations will be put in place.

          Maybe
        • If a candidate is shown to have had knowledge (or their lack of knowledge represents gross negligence) of any significant violation of these provisions, a threshold will be established by which it can invalidate the election (save for Presidential elections, in which case this should be impeachable for any office holder who knew or should have known...including the President and Vice President).

          Maybe
        • For Presidential General Elections, the Vice President is treated, under the law, has the same legal obligations for due diligence in governance and administration of the campaign as the Presidential candidate.

          Yes

        Electoral Reform:
        • The size and apportionment of the House of Representatives shall be based on the number of citizens. With states allocated one representative for every 50,000 citizens (rounded to the nearest 50,000).

          Maybe
        • The 17th Amendment will be repealed, with Senators to be appointed by the states to represent the interest of the states as sovereign entities.

          Maybe
        • The number of Senators shall be increased to six per state, with one appointed by the governor, and one by the legislature of each state every two years.

          Maybe
        • For purposes of the electoral college, the Presidential/Vice Presidential ticket winning the plurality of votes in each congressional district will receive that electoral college vote, with the ticket receiving the plurality of votes state-wide will receive the state's six additional, at-large, electoral votes.

          Maybe
        Answered as many as I could. Some that I question for various reasons I maybe'd

        ?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Captain Trips View Post

          Answered as many as I could. Some that I question for various reasons I maybe'd
          I would be interested in knowing your reasons or hesitance over the ones you replied "maybe" to.

          ?


          • #6
            Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post

            I would be interested in knowing your reasons or hesitance over the ones you replied "maybe" to.
            Mostly because I don't know every exact detail of every instance of what you're suggesting be reformed.

            For me, all of them fall in the category of;

            It sounds good, but I'm unsure if it might have effects not intended, or even be realistic to expect reforming.

            Especially in the electoral college reforms.

            I hate to answer this way, but I would want to seriously examine all the details of every issue you have listed, before giving confident answers.

            There are a lot listed LOL

            ?


            • #7
              The following made me think of one of your proposals

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

              Employees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are quitting at a rapid clip as Secretary Sonny Perdue prepares to move forward with plans to relocate two offices far outside the Washington, D.C., Beltway.

              Federal employees at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) two small but important agencies within the USDA are unhappy with Perdues plan, announced last August, to move the majority of their staff from current offices in the capital to an area closer the countrys agricultural centers.

              This move does not serve a public purpose, Peter Winch, a representative for the American Federation of Government Employees, a union that represents ERS workers, told Fox News. Employees dont want to move, and it doesnt make sense for them to move.

              Perdue said in a statement to Fox News that the move was meant to improve performance and the services these agencies provide. The secretary of agriculture added that the planned move would bring the departments scientists closer to stakeholders and customers such as Midwest farmers.

              Its been our goal to make USDA the most effective, efficient, and customer-focused department in the entire federal government, Perdue said. We dont undertake these relocations lightly, and we are doing it to improve performance and the services these agencies provide.

              Perdue added: We will be placing important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from Washington, D.C. We will be saving money for the taxpayers and improving our ability to retain more employees in the long run.

              The goal of the ERS, however, is to provide statistical information to lawmakers in Washington, while NIFA works to fund hundreds of millions of dollar annually in research in the agricultural sector.


              .....................


              https://www.foxnews.com/politics/usd...ices-out-of-dc

              ?


              • #8
                Originally posted by Captain Trips View Post

                Mostly because I don't know every exact detail of every instance of what you're suggesting be reformed.

                For me, all of them fall in the category of;

                It sounds good, but I'm unsure if it might have effects not intended, or even be realistic to expect reforming.

                Especially in the electoral college reforms.

                I hate to answer this way, but I would want to seriously examine all the details of every issue you have listed, before giving confident answers.

                There are a lot listed LOL
                Well, for the ones you replied "Maybe" to, here is a bit more of my thinking (and some clarifications):

                Government Reform:
                • The first term pay of members of Congress should be tripled (and indexed to inflation), but that pay should be cut by 10 percent per term served, but no lower than the median wage of their state.
                • The Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution shall be amended to apply only to immunity from libel and slander for floor speeches and entries into the Congressional record. It will not apply to any other communications (including with their own staff other than the preparation of floor speeches and official entries into the record) and will not protect against violations of national security related-statutes.
                I would include committee hearings to the actions covered by the more limited protections. The intent of the speech and debate clause was intended to shield members from the use of civil and criminal process to impede their legitimate conduct of the nation's business and I think various court rulings have broadened this beyond its intended purpose. I would be open to instead to create an option for each House to waive the protection (for investigation and prosecution related to the unauthorized revelation of confidential or top secret information) for a member (akin to foreign nations waiving a covered citizens diplomatic immunity).
                • Committee Assignments (proportional to the balance of members between the two parties) in the House and the Senate will be assigned randomly based on the number of committee seats available and those members who have indicated a desire to be on a particular committee. This will be done in rounds, with members removed from random selection for other committees for the remainder of each round once their name has been selected in that round.
                • Committee chairs and ranking member shall be selected by a majority vote of the members of the committee, the Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders in the House, and the committee members, Senate Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate.
                I believe strongly in undercutting the seniority system in both Houses, All members of Congress are equals, there is no legitimate representative purpose in granting one member more power or authority than others merely due to longevity. This is merely an extension of a more lottery-based system for committee assignments. I also believe that a member's time on any particular committee should be limited because it limits their ability to gain protracted power over any particular interest group. Under my proposal, members would still be able to express a preference for committee assignments, but seniority would not factor in. In addition, the Speaker would not longer be able to hold committee assignments as a source of power and influence over members.
                • The current nine-justice Supreme Court will be adjusted to a floating (non-even) number of Justices. Every President, upon his inauguration to a term, may appoint one new Justice to the court, replacing the longest serving justice appointed by a President of the same party.
                This actually got truncated. What I was intending was to eliminate life-time appointments, with each President appointing one per Presidential term, with the terms being 20 years. The specifics to keep the court size 9 or 11 I am open to (including dealing with off-cycle vacancies).

                Campaign Reform
                • Quarterly FEC disclosure requirements will be increased to every four weeks, with the Thursday before the next election being a required filing date, and every fourth Thursday prior to that date back to the previous election.
                This was intended to increase transparency, particularly closer to elections.
                • Independent expenditures by any citizen, legal resident, or organization incorporated in the U.S. are permitted, but presumption of independence will be heavily impaired by contacts between candidates or agents of their campaigns and those making decisions on independent expenditures.
                • Severe criminal penalties for violations will be put in place.
                Independent expenditures are already permitted, I would merely put in place more scrutiny over cooperation and coordination of efforts. Criminal penalties are paramount for any meaningful enforcement.
                • If a candidate is shown to have had knowledge (or their lack of knowledge represents gross negligence) of any significant violation of these provisions, a threshold will be established by which it can invalidate the election (save for Presidential elections, in which case this should be impeachable for any office holder who knew or should have known...including the President and Vice President).
                Vacating of election results actually becomes rather moot with the appointment of Senators (no elections) and the existing rules for special elections for House vacancies.

                Electoral Reform

                All of these increase competitiveness of elections for the House. Many more, smaller districts increases the likelyhood of a real grass-roots competitor being able to effectively compete as it dramatically reduces the financial threshold of being able to mount a genuinely credible campaign.

                The popular election of Senators was one of the worst decisions ever made for a true federalist republic. The Senate was intended to represent the interests of the states as sovereign entities.

                The impact of these changes on Presidential elections would be to make them less focused on a handful of "swing" states, and would require that candidates go to very disparate parts of the nation and appealing to broader electoral coalitions.

                ​​​​​​​

                ?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post

                  Well, for the ones you replied "Maybe" to, here is a bit more of my thinking (and some clarifications):

                  Government Reform:
                  • The first term pay of members of Congress should be tripled (and indexed to inflation), but that pay should be cut by 10 percent per term served, but no lower than the median wage of their state.
                  • The Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution shall be amended to apply only to immunity from libel and slander for floor speeches and entries into the Congressional record. It will not apply to any other communications (including with their own staff other than the preparation of floor speeches and official entries into the record) and will not protect against violations of national security related-statutes.
                  I would include committee hearings to the actions covered by the more limited protections. The intent of the speech and debate clause was intended to shield members from the use of civil and criminal process to impede their legitimate conduct of the nation's business and I think various court rulings have broadened this beyond its intended purpose. I would be open to instead to create an option for each House to waive the protection (for investigation and prosecution related to the unauthorized revelation of confidential or top secret information) for a member (akin to foreign nations waiving a covered citizens diplomatic immunity).
                  • Committee Assignments (proportional to the balance of members between the two parties) in the House and the Senate will be assigned randomly based on the number of committee seats available and those members who have indicated a desire to be on a particular committee. This will be done in rounds, with members removed from random selection for other committees for the remainder of each round once their name has been selected in that round.
                  • Committee chairs and ranking member shall be selected by a majority vote of the members of the committee, the Speaker, Majority and Minority leaders in the House, and the committee members, Senate Majority and Minority leaders in the Senate.
                  I believe strongly in undercutting the seniority system in both Houses, All members of Congress are equals, there is no legitimate representative purpose in granting one member more power or authority than others merely due to longevity. This is merely an extension of a more lottery-based system for committee assignments. I also believe that a member's time on any particular committee should be limited because it limits their ability to gain protracted power over any particular interest group. Under my proposal, members would still be able to express a preference for committee assignments, but seniority would not factor in. In addition, the Speaker would not longer be able to hold committee assignments as a source of power and influence over members.
                  • The current nine-justice Supreme Court will be adjusted to a floating (non-even) number of Justices. Every President, upon his inauguration to a term, may appoint one new Justice to the court, replacing the longest serving justice appointed by a President of the same party.
                  This actually got truncated. What I was intending was to eliminate life-time appointments, with each President appointing one per Presidential term, with the terms being 20 years. The specifics to keep the court size 9 or 11 I am open to (including dealing with off-cycle vacancies).

                  Campaign Reform
                  • Quarterly FEC disclosure requirements will be increased to every four weeks, with the Thursday before the next election being a required filing date, and every fourth Thursday prior to that date back to the previous election.
                  This was intended to increase transparency, particularly closer to elections.
                  • Independent expenditures by any citizen, legal resident, or organization incorporated in the U.S. are permitted, but presumption of independence will be heavily impaired by contacts between candidates or agents of their campaigns and those making decisions on independent expenditures.
                  • Severe criminal penalties for violations will be put in place.
                  Independent expenditures are already permitted, I would merely put in place more scrutiny over cooperation and coordination of efforts. Criminal penalties are paramount for any meaningful enforcement.
                  • If a candidate is shown to have had knowledge (or their lack of knowledge represents gross negligence) of any significant violation of these provisions, a threshold will be established by which it can invalidate the election (save for Presidential elections, in which case this should be impeachable for any office holder who knew or should have known...including the President and Vice President).
                  Vacating of election results actually becomes rather moot with the appointment of Senators (no elections) and the existing rules for special elections for House vacancies.

                  Electoral Reform

                  All of these increase competitiveness of elections for the House. Many more, smaller districts increases the likelyhood of a real grass-roots competitor being able to effectively compete as it dramatically reduces the financial threshold of being able to mount a genuinely credible campaign.

                  The popular election of Senators was one of the worst decisions ever made for a true federalist republic. The Senate was intended to represent the interests of the states as sovereign entities.

                  The impact of these changes on Presidential elections would be to make them less focused on a handful of "swing" states, and would require that candidates go to very disparate parts of the nation and appealing to broader electoral coalitions.

                  Those all look like very good changes. I'm unsure of messing with the Supreme court, who knows what effects that might have.. probably good, but ?? not sure

                  But the rest, I think will be positive

                  Now how to get them to happen, that is the difficult part.

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