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

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

Uncategorized

Bipartisan Guide to Ridiculous Legislation: More mandatory minimums, this time for immigrants

Yet another immigration-related bill comes from Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican from California. In January, Mr. Issa filed H.R. 45 to “impose mandatory sentencing ranges with respect to aliens who reenter the United States after having been removed …”

Didn’t we learn from the (failed) Drug War that mandatory minimums do not deter lawbreakers and only take power from judges?

Mr. Issa’s bill mandates a year in jail for an illegal immigrant with a clean record who re-enters the U.S. illegally. Currently, the law only provides a maximum penalty of 2 years in jail. The bill would also impose much higher mandatory minimums on immigrants who commit crimes in the U.S.

The parallels to the failed mandatory minimum policies for drug offenses are not unnoticed by criminal justice activists. The Families Against Mandatory Minimums looked up some recent statistics on immigration offenses and found that of the 73,277 people sentenced in 2009, over 90 percent were for illegally entering the U.S. and/or helping others across. Most had no prior criminal record.

FAMM also found that judges already gave most offenders close to maximum sentences. Is there really a need for mandatory minimums?

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: Lawmakers foreclose on Sesame Street

Why is Elmo drowning his sorrows in booze?

It might be H.R. 68. This bill, filed by Rep. Doug Lamborn, targets the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a 44-year-old not-for-profit corporation that funds various TV and radio programs (including Sesame Street).  Long the bane of ardent conservatives who view the CPB as a liberal mouthpiece for the government, Republicans swept into office after the mid-term elections have their sights set on ending federal funding for this organization.

It’s nothing new. Conservatives have tried for decades to gut funding from the CPB. In the 60s, Mr. Rogers even got involved defending the non-profit when President Nixon wanted to cut its budget by 50 percent.

But this latest attack on the CPB does more than just eliminate federal funding while the country recovers from the recession; it seeks to forever remove the option for funding the CPB. This could have disasterous effects on some PBS and NPR stations around the country.

(The House has already passed a budget eliminating funding)

Rep. Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, filed a similar bill last year that never made it out of committee. But he has much more support this session with the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

In this session’s fierce budget fight between Tea Party-backed Republicans and President Obama, there is bound to be some casualties. But should educational programming one of them? Especially in this of age of dubious children’s programming – an issue these same Tea Party-backed Republicans have brought up before – pulling the plug on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is not a smart move.

Rating: 4 teabags

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