The political landscape has been permanently reshaped over the past two years. Overreaching by elected officials—in the form of pork-laden "stimulus" spending, permanent bailouts, and policies that force responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior—has awakened something deep in our national character. This has led to a surge of activism by citizens demanding smaller, more accountable government and a repudiation of Washington in Tuesday's elections.IMHO, Congressman Boehner might have added one additional promise:
Tired of politicians who refuse to listen, Americans who previously were not involved or minimally involved in the political process are now helping to drive it. While their backgrounds are as diverse as the country itself, their message to Washington is the same: Government leaders are servants of the people; the people are not servants of their government.
The members of the 112th Congress must heed this message if there is to be any hope of repairing the shattered bonds of trust between the American people and their elected leaders. And that begins with the speaker of the House, who as leader of the institution must lead by example.
Accordingly, there are several steps I believe the next speaker should be prepared to take immediately. Among them:
• No earmarks. Earmarks have become a symbol of a broken Washington, and an entire lobbying industry has been created around them. The speaker of the House shouldn't use the power of the office to raid the federal Treasury for pork-barrel projects. To the contrary, the speaker should be an advocate for ending the current earmark process, and should adhere to a personal no-earmarks policy that stands as an example for all members of Congress to follow.
I have maintained a no-earmarks policy throughout my time of service in Congress. I believe the House must adopt a moratorium on all earmarks as a signal of our commitment to ending business as usual in the spending process.
• Let Americans read bills before they are brought to a vote. The speaker of the House should not allow any bill to come to a vote that has not been posted publicly online for at least three days. Members of Congress and the American people must have the opportunity to read it.
Similarly, the speaker should insist that every bill include a clause citing where in the Constitution Congress is given the power to pass it. Bills that can't pass this test shouldn't get a vote. House Republicans' new governing agenda, "A Pledge to America," calls for the speaker to implement such reforms immediately.
• No more "comprehensive" bills. The next speaker should put an end to so-called comprehensive bills with thousands of pages of legislative text that make it easy to hide spending projects and job-killing policies. President Obama's massive "stimulus" and health-care bills, written behind closed doors with minimal public scrutiny, were the last straw for many Americans. The American people are not well-served by "comprehensive," and they are rightly suspicious of the adjective.
• No more bills written behind closed doors in the speaker's office. Bills should be written by legislators in committee in plain public view. Issues should be advanced one at a time, and the speaker should place an emphasis on smaller, more focused legislation that is properly scrutinized, constitutionally sound, and consistent with Americans' demand for a less-costly, less-intrusive government.
That as incoming Speaker he will introduce a private member's bill to sell Nancy Pelosi's private jet, on the opening day of the new session of Congress in 2011, as HR 1. Such a move would have significant symbolic, as well as financial, value in providing a new direction for Congress.