By Carl DeMaio
Candidate for U.S. Congress
52nd Congressional District
Tired of Members of Congress passing laws for us to live under, but exempting themselves?
Now more than ever before, we need a Congress that works for us – not the other way around.
The double standards and special privileges in Washington have to end. If we want better results from Washington, we have to start by changing the culture of special privilege that politicians have created for themselves.
That’s exactly why I’ve proposed my Fix Congress First Plan – which would impose a number of accountability and transparency reforms on Congress. Judging by the defensive response of incumbent politicians like Scott Peters, you can bet Washington politicians won’t like it.
My plan starts by eliminating the special exemptions for Members of Congress and requires that they live under the same laws they pass for us.
During the Bob Filner sexual harassment scandal, Filner demanded that taxpayers pick up the bills for his bad behavior because he claimed he did not get sexual harassment training while in Congress. Guess what? Filner voted to grant Members of Congress a special exemption from the same sexual harassment training mandates that other federal managers are subject to.
The special exemptions continue with Congress exempting itself from a wide range of workplace safety rules, whistleblower protections, and even open government requirements on the disclosure of records to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.
My Fix Congress First Plan also eliminates the lavish pensions and special benefits for Members of Congress. Just as I did here in San Diego, I propose to eliminate politicians’ pensions and enroll them into retirement benefits benchmarked to the penny against what taxpayers – the ones who foot the bill – receive.
Those ObamaCare subsidies we’ve read about recently? Under my plan, they’re gone. If ObamaCare is so great for the rest of us, Members of Congress should receive no better and no worse. Also gone are the free travel junkets for Members of Congress paid for by special interests, like the $1.7 million that was spent alone on travel by outside groups in August 2013.
My Fix Congress First plan would also end the current practice of politicians passing bills they have not read, only to plead ignorance when we find out later that the law is unworkable or filled with giveaways to special interest groups.
My plan calls for all of Congress’ legislative bills to be on a single subject to prevent unrelated amendments filled with benefits for special interests. To force transparency on the process, all laws would be posted online for public review for at least 72 hours before a vote is scheduled.
Finally, Congress should be held accountable for doing its job.
If you don’t show up for work, you don’t get paid – at least, that’s the way it is for most Americans. If you don’t produce a budget for your family, or you build a small business and don’t figure out how to pay for your employees, you suffer the consequences – so why should Congress be any different?
It only makes sense that if Congress fails to pass the budget, every Member of Congress should permanently forfeit their pay for each day the budget is not done.
As we have seen too many times, Congress is not open to change. Many in Congress have grown accustomed to the system from which they benefit.
Nevertheless, we have a record of successfully getting big reform done in San Diego – even over the opposition of entrenched politicians. When I first introduced our landmark Pension Reform Initiative, many observers said it could not get done – but by working together, we built a broad coalition across San Diego and successfully put those important reforms into place.
Making these common-sense reforms are not Democrat or Republican issues – they are wholeheartedly American issues with the goal of making our government work again.
I’m confident by building a case for reform and engaging the people in the process, we can repeat our success with making a reformed government we can be proud of again.
…and it all starts with fixing Congress first.