Fresh Ideas

Six original ideas for a more perfect union
1. Amend the Constitution to make habitual lying grounds for impeachment
The current presidential oath of office reads: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

As a congressman I will sponsor legislation to add, “I further swear to preserve the public trust by always endeavoring to tell the truth.”

In the Federalist papers, Alexander Hamilton defined the “high crimes and misdemeanors” phrase in the Constitution’s impeachment provisions to mean any violation of the public trust.

How Donald Trump’s incessant lying hasn’t been seen by Congress as a violation of the public trust is beyond me. Lying to the public was one of the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon.

Under the amended presidential oath, there would be no mistaking habitual, unrepentant lying — as opposed to honest mistakes — as anything but cause for removal.

2. Establish the House Honesty Caucus
According to Wikipedia, as of June 11, 2019, there were more than 500 caucuses in Congress, including the Friends of Finland Caucus and the Congressional Rock and Roll Caucus.

I will found the House House Honesty Caucus to encourage truth telling and deter dishonesty in all branches of government.

3. Publish the Annual Report of the United States
We are plagued by dueling economists and manipulated numbers. The Annual Report of the United States would offer a comprehensive dataset compiled by a nonpartisan organization.

It would provide baseline data, for example, for evaluating promises such as the number of jobs or amount of capital investment created by a corporate tax cut.

4. Eliminate free vacations during government shutdowns
Winter 2018-19 saw yet another government shutdown caused by political posturing.

Every time this happens, politicians and commentators express sympathy for the poor federal employees who are being forced to go without a paycheck for the duration. All stakeholders in such disputes, however, know from the beginning that those lost wages will be restored in due course through congressional action. They always are.

So what do these shutdowns amount to? Except in the case of federal workers like TSA staff, who are forced to work without pay, they amount to deferred-compensation paid vacations on the taxpayers’ dime.

Federal workers should be paid when they work and not paid when they don’t work.

There should be a political price paid for these easily avoidable shutdowns, and it should come in the form of thousands of furious, temporarily laid-off federal workers incentivized to vote irresponsible politicians (the president or Congress or both) out of office for costing them money.

5. Implement a reality-check military draft to discourage wars
This legislation would automatically activate a broad-based military draft, and quarterly billing to taxpayers, whenever the government embarks on an elective war of aggression, such as the Iraq invasion and occupation during the George W. Bush administration.

The way to stop unnecessary and immoral military action is to require everyone to have skin in the game. That includes having to write a check for violent acts committed in our names.

When every family has to pay for a war and faces the possibility of having to fight and die in a war, we’ll have a realistic debate over whether to go to war.

6. Establish National Journalism Day and a National Judges Day
National Journalism Day is celebrated every November 17 – in India.

We don’t have a national holiday celebrating the work of journalists, but we should.

Thomas Jefferson believed that the free press was at least as important to a democracy as any army or government agency. James Madison believed freedom of the press was the freedom that protected all of our other freedoms.

As we have seen during the dark reign of Donald Trump and his enablers, journalists have been one of the few structures of society that have upheld their responsibilities in protecting democracy.

The judiciary has been another democracy defender. So, in addition to National Journalism Day, there should be a day honoring judges, courts and the rule of law.