“Reform” is a common concept in government. My experience has been that whenever government reforms something, it will inevitably be worse. The nine-letter word “reforming” coincides with the nine-letter result: Imscrewed. Big government statists cannot resist increasing government size or power. That is one stark illustration of why the so-called “War on Drugs” has been a forty-year failure. Government and its political enablers have an addiction problem that is much more harmful for the nation than any individual’s reliance on an illicit substance. The only government program that has succeeded at any measurable level is the “War on Liberty” that was begun with little fanfare one century ago.
You may recall the “Tax Reform Act of 1986.” That overhaul was a result of an agreement between President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill. The President agreed to some tax increases in the “reform” bill in exchange for sizable spending cuts in subsequent budgets. As usual the spending cuts never materialized and a radical transform of the tax code went forward. Prior to the 1986 tax bill interest expenses were deductible, but after passage, credit card and non-mortgage, non-business interest payments were no longer allowed as tax deductions. Personally, interest deductions are not important for me. I would rather eliminate the income tax altogether and eliminate the incessant tinkering and tweaking that costs taxpayers more money while Congress rewards its favored groups or companies.
So, as a brief summary of the prologue, reform generally represents more of the same though worse. As an example, please join me in a “quickie’ review of Ohio Sub. HB 194…of the 129th General Assembly.
This so-called election administrative reform bill is similar to many other bills under consideration by our legislative bodies. Its provisions resemble tentacles as they weave and wind around so many facets of Ohio election law, and yet….this purportedly comprehensive overhaul ignores a gorilla in the room…a gaping intentional oversight in violation of a court order. The aspect of ballot access for minor parties was never addressed, thus allowing the existing law to stand which had earlier been declared unfair by the court. Similar to Obamacare and so many legislative initiatives, Sub. HB 194 addresses several areas of concern that could result in some unanticipated problems because of the breadth of the bill.
The Ohio bill must have some merit because President Obama’s campaign is opposed to it because of its stricter provisions regarding voter identification…..could possibly limit cheating, and thus, is not Obama-friendly. The legislation covers a broad scale of issues affecting Ohio elections such as we “cannot assume that poll workers erred.” Proof must be submitted before allegations or assumptions are allowed. Clearly the Voter I.D. provision is the lightning rod of the bill as liberals, progressives, Marxists and cheaters are fearful that a photo I.D. would minimize their opportunities for stealing elections.
An omnibus bill that purports to reform a broad swath of law is inherently doomed. Unintended consequences will cling to the legislation like flies to road kill. Opponents will target one or more aspects of the legislation and may seek judicial intervention. Forecasting what some judges would do is similar to predicting when and where a first raindrop may land. Broad based initiatives allow the dedicated public servants to crow about their major accomplishments, and at the same time, condense the heavy lifting of formulating meaningful legislation. This in turn generates more free time for lobbyist-funded meals and adult beverages.
Admittedly I am a skeptic and a cynic, but I do suspect that some omnibus bills are staff-created legislative shortcuts for elected officials. If there is a sincere intent to dramatically change the status quo, the omnibus bill does provide some cover in the sense that changes that may inspire opposition could perhaps, maybe, theoretically, possibly get lost in the weeds of a broad undertaking. In addition, a huge bill that deals with various facets of state law (elections for example) has many sponsors, co-sponsors and amendment sponsors so that disgruntled citizens or groups may find it difficult to place blame for what they believe to be an egregious legislative result. While the omnibus bill may provide a cloak of anonymity for its advocates, it may also lead to glaring oversights….legislators and staff members become so enamored with the forest that individual trees lose their identities.
As the kind trusting person that I am, I will assume that the “too-broad, glaring-omission” explanation is the logical one for the failure of Sub. HB 194 to address the issue of minor party ballot access. Clearly, the elected members of the Ohio General Assembly believe in the Republic and the rights of citizens to freely elect their representatives. Obviously the members of the Ohio House and Ohio Senate would do nothing that intentionally enables a continuing duopoly of power, thought and avarice. After all, the two old parties have shared power, meals and drinks for more than 150 years so it cannot be possible that third-party competition would be seriously challenging to them. Right?
Intentional self-serving denial of opportunity in a republic is just as loathsome as a poll tax or a literacy test. When two parties hold absolute control of the election apparatus, logical reasoning would lead one to believe that power will be misapplied. Because the two old parties have controlled the election apparatus across the nation for so long, they have not been seriously challenged to account for their malfeasance, misfeasance and misdeeds. We have all been losers because of the lack of electoral accountability. Reform? Yeah, right.
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