The Coronavirus Relief Bill passed both House and Senate without anyone actually reading it and has been sent to a president who does not read. Rumor is he can, but simply does not.
It takes four weeks to read 6,000 pages
That’s on average, if you stick to it full-time and don’t stop to clean your glasses. The opposite of you and me, Congress saves the good stuff for not reading. I happen to love reading the late John Le Carre but if I were Congress he would molder on the shelf.
There is strategic purpose behind Congress jamming legislation
That strategy comes down to the good stuff and any fat sow (or member of the House or Senate) knows exactly where to find the good stuff. The good stuff is in earmarks. Earmarks are those tasty little bits of filler-legislation that keep the home fires burning where god-lost-his-shoes in bayou Mississippi. Little things like a new bridge and big things like an army base.
It’s all there in the fine print and there’s a hell of a lot of fine print in 6,000 pages. Mmm, slurp, chew, swallow, burp. Then Repeat.
So what’s in this sterling piece of legislative slight-of-hand?
Impossible to tell at the moment, but it’s a soup of un-legislated legislation at year’s end. The overall measure funds government through September, wrapping a year’s worth of action on annual spending bills into a single chunk that never saw a Senate committee or floor debate.
The governmentwide appropriations bill threw $1.4 billion for Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall as a condition for slopping the pig to get his signature. Democrats and Senate Republicans used bookkeeping maneuvers to squeeze $12.5 billion more for domestic programs.
A domestic program is similar to an investment vehicle in that both are metaphors for the getaway car in a bank robbery.
The bill includes $10 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, another hunk to extend expiring tax breaks, $7 billion for broadband, $4 billion to help other nations vaccinate their people, $14 billion for transit systems, a billion for Amtrak two billion for airports and concessionaires.
Somewhere in there is my $600, possibly on page five thousand and something.
It makes me feel like such a nit-pick, but hey
For college financial aid, lawmakers agreed to make changes that will enable an additional 1.7 million students to qualify for the maximum award each year and allow another 555,000 newly eligible. Which I’m all for, but I’m not in college.
I’m in my 9th decade, still working, living on social security and struggling to pay the rent. Strangely, while I’ve never been out of work, the $1200 so far hasn’t done all that much for me. Nor has it for those who live under bridges or are struggling to buy food. We share one thing in common, our lack of lobbying moxie in the best government money can buy.
But before we leave for the day and a cup of coffee…
Something I almost forgot to mention. The last time I remember a bill of any import being passed without having been read, it was the Patriot Act jammed through Congress just after 911.
That’s a backronym that stands for an act Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. I had never heard of a backronym. Turns out it’s an acronym made to fit a pre-existing word. Who knew? You want something to sound like it’s patriotic and then send a bunch of people off into a room to come up with it. Do we have a wonderful government, or what?
Never mind that the Patriot Act violates the 4th and 6th amendments to the Constitution, it brought us Guantanamo, a new interrogation technique called torture, the Iraq and Afghan wars as well as the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS expanded surveillance to sixteen agencies that stumble over one another, as detailed by whistleblower Edward Snowden and gleefully sent on by Julian Assange to the Washington Post, Guardian UK and New York Times.
No one read it either and it was only 300 pages.
Photo credit: Toledo Blade