Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: Florida Congressman wants to create ‘Museum of Ideas’

Rep. Clifford Stearns from Florida’s 6th Congressional district is one of the many Republicans in the house that campaigned on fiscal responsibility and cutting the nation’s deficit. This Florida Republican even sponsored legislation to bar Federal money from the United Nations and voted for the latest budget that cuts funding for a host of social betterment programs, including AmeriCorps and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

But while he uses one hand to push for a tighter reign on Washington’s wallet, he’s using his other hand to file H.R. 294, a bill that would create a commission to build a “Museum of Ideas.”

He’s filed this bill two other times in recent years.

Stearns’ Museum of Ideas would chronicle the evolution of civilization and human thought. Here’s what he told his hometown newspaper, the Ocala Star-Banner:

“Ideas and innovations — political, philosophical, religious, economic, technological — are the driving force in the human experience, and I believe that a museum dedicated to the creativity of mankind would preserve and celebrate these ideas and innovations, and educate the public on the power of thought,” Stearns explained in an e-mail.

Noble idea, I guess, but bad timing. While he has noted that he prefers private donations to build the museum, creating a commission in itself is costly, in both money and time.

Wait — I got an idea! How about tabling the  museum for the moment and put that time and money to better use, i.e. saving public-sector jobs? Or even better, not spending the money at all.

Rating: 2 teabags

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Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: Senate bill seeks to take away unemployment benefits from millionaires

This is an interesting bill from Rep. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Apparently, there are about 3,000 millionaires that currently receive unemployment benefits from the government. So, while the country suffers from a growing deficit, Rep. Coburn wants to kick those millionaires off the unemployment rolls with S. 310, also known as the “Ending Unemployment Payments to  Jobless Millionaires Act of 2011.”

At first glance, it seems like a good idea. But no matter how distasteful it might be, it’s not a logical solution.

People don’t receive unemployment benefits for being poor. They receive benefits because they were laid off through no fault of their own. As part of their benefits package while working, their companies paid the unemployment tax. So, these jobless millionaires deserve that money just like anyone else. They earned it. You can’t retroactively take that benefit away.

Of course, a good millionaire would try to give back that money or donate it some cause (preferably to help other unemployed people). But creating a law to deal with a few thousand people would be more than a waste of time, it would create a class system with respect to unemployment benefits.

And aren’t conservatives always going on about how rich people shouldn’t be punished for success?

Rating: 3 teabags

Click here to learn about the rating system. For archives of the Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation, click here.

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: The ‘Anchor Baby’ bill

Many legislators came to power in November campaigning on money-related issues: inflated budgets, taxes and the country’s economy. But many politicians also ran on various wedge issues – those hot button topics that force voters on one of two sides. After Arizona leaders passed a law giving police the power to stop drivers and check their immigration status, our neighbors to the south once again became a wedge issue.

So it comes as no surprise that politicians on both sides of the aisle are sponsoring immigration-related bills. Unfortunately, when dealing with an issue as complex as immigration, most politicians only offer simple, politically-expedient and divisive legislation.

The worst of the bills comes from Rep. Steve King. This Iowa Republican — who even scares other Republicans with his inflammatory language — is sponsoring the Birthright Citizenship Act, also known around talk radio circles as the “Anchor Baby Act.” This piece of legislation basically seeks to overturn the 14th amendment, which allows for U.S. citizenship to anyone born on American soil. H.R. 140 already has four other politicians signing on. In addition, many states are planning similar proposals.

Putting the immigration debate aside, this bill is a waste of time for three reasons:

1) If simply being born in the U.S. does not qualify us for citizenship, then a birth certificate is proved useless. How much money, time and hassle will it take for the country to move away from using birth certificates? And how long will that take?

2) The U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld birthright citizenship. Check out the United States v. Wong Kim Ark. Why file a bill that will be ruled unconstitutional? Because it’s the easy way to gain political points. If Rep. King would have filed a Constutitional amendment, we all know it wouldn’t pass.

3) It would have a negligible effect on the numbers of undocumented immigrants. Having babies is not the reason folks come to the United States. Employment is/has/will continue to be the No. 1 reason people cross our borders illegally. Even mothers who come to the U.S. pregnant so their children can become U.S. citizens only do so because they can get work and a better life. Which means, even if this passed, there would still be pregnant mothers crossing the borders. But instead of their children becoming U.S. citizens, the kids will just add to the statistics of illegal immigrants.

Rating: 5 teabags

Click here to learn about the rating system. For archives of the Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation, click here.