Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dear Dems - real reform will win the oval office

Scot Faulkner has some great advice for the Democratic Party. For all the happy talk about the adults being in charge again, Scot reminds us the last time the Democrats were in power, they weren't exactly paragons of virtue either.
In 1994, House operations were essentially designed to launder funds to support incumbents. Most member services, including printing, mailing and the photography studio, were hidden in large revolving accounts. There was no way to tell who was spending what. Those fees that were traceable were usually mere shadows of the true costs to taxpayers.

...None of this was revealed because accounting practices for the House’s nearly $1 billion annual budget were surreal. Most of the House’s expenditures could not even be documented.
Reforms in the 90s helped but they didn't go far enough. Scot makes two excellent suggestions that the Democrats would do well to heed.
For starters, they should publish House finances online and make them fully searchable. My office produced a prototype Web site for the Republicans in 1996 but they squashed it. Our intent was to develop reporting formats and explanatory notes understandable to everyone. But this was more disclosure than the leadership could stomach.

In addition, Democrats should make all House meetings viewable online. The House should install two digital cameras in every committee and subcommittee room, with one facing the rostrum and another facing the witness table. The Republicans rejected an earlier version of this proposal in 1995, saying, in effect, “Not that public!”
As the saying goes, that was then and this is now. The world has changed tremendously in the last ten years. The internets have enabled the electorate to exercise a level of scrutiny that wasn't possible before and the voters will not be fooled by mere lip service to ethics and half-hearted reforms again. If the Democratic Party doesn't want to go down as the one-hit wonder of the new century, they would do well to take this advice and run with it.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said Libby. Don't have anything to add but just wanted to pop in and wish you and your's a Merry Christmas (Happy Holidays, if that's more appropriate)!

6:06:00 PM  
Blogger Bubblehead said...

I agree with kvatch -- Merry Christmas, Libby!

10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Aw, thanks guys. Same to you.

8:41:00 AM  

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