Washington politicians are unbelievably arrogant. They think of themselves as the center of the universe while simultaneously thinking they should be above the laws they create for everyone else.
Martin Luther King Jr. described accurately that a law is unjust if a group compels it on others without making it binding to itself. Congress has given us all too many examples of this type of unjust law, with Obamacare being the most recent example.
I have introduced a constitutional amendment stating: “Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.” This amendment also contains two provisions that apply that same principle to the executive branch and judicial branch of the federal government.
Under this amendment, Congress, federal judges and even the White House will no longer be able to exempt themselves from the laws they create, uphold or sign — as they all regularly do now in a plethora of ways. If congressional staffers are still allowed to receive subsidies for Obamacare, Americans will also be able to receive similar support from their employers should both parties desire such an arrangement.
Obviously, amending the Constitution is no small task. It requires a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate and must be ratified by at least 38 states. However, which politician will now publicly say he truly thinks Washington should be exempt from the laws it makes for the rest of us? What possible excuse will members of either party come up with for not supporting this amendment?
How arrogant will they dare to be?
My constitutional amendment proposal is but one reform among many our federal government desperately needs. When Obamacare was first being promoted, Nancy Pelosi as House speaker said, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Americans are now finding out what’s in it, and most don’t like it one bit.
I have proposed a “Read the Bills” resolution that would forbid voting on legislation until each bill is posted online and the Senate has been in session for at least one day for each 20 pages. If a bill is 40 pages, this means it couldn’t be voted on until at least two session days had passed. It makes perfect sense to give lawmakers adequate time to understand the legislation they are voting on.
As Obamacare is teaching us, there’s no excuse, and much danger, in passing bills that no one has read. Mrs. Pelosi had it exactly backwards: It is our responsibility and duty to read the bills and understand what’s in them before we pass them.
Perhaps one of the most important reforms Washington needs is recycling the people who run government. The time for term limits has come, and in fact, is long overdue. Most of the outlandish laws foisted upon us — like Obamacare — are concocted by people who’ve spent so much time in government they’ve become completely out of touch with the rest of the country. Add the influence of lobbyists and other special-interest groups that play such an influential role in Washington decision making, and the need to limit congressmen’s and senators’ terms becomes even more apparent.
In my three years in Washington, I’ve seen what kind of damage it does to even lawmakers with the best of intentions. Imagine what it does to those who’ve been here for decades.
When Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was the deciding vote to uphold Obamacare in 2012, I decided that if he liked the plan so much, he, too, should be subject to its regulations and provisions.
Lawmakers are not above the law. They should have to read the bills they pass. They should not be in government forever. All of them should be subject to the laws they expect the rest of us to obey and endure. Anything less would be hypocritical and immoral.
Welcome to Washington.
Rand Paul is a Republican senator from Kentucky.