CoSponsor the Fair Tax Act

This WAS a response to a question here on Hub-Pages, a quick discussion of a new government web-site that is promoting our citizens involvement in government, and a how-to, all-in-one.

But the original question was removed. Nevertheless ....

Five Words or Less?

One other amswer might be: "My pockets are already empty".
One other amswer might be: "My pockets are already empty".

First – The Answer

The title is the answer. The question is below. This article will go a few steps further and tell you how you as a citizen can use a new government web-site to co-sponsor acts in Congress. The web site also allows you to provide input to let your Congressman know how you feel.

Second – The Question

Yeah, yeah, I know, the question usually comes first. In fact it did. The question was asked by bethperry:“ Sum up in 5 words: the IRS set to distribute millions in employee bonuses”. Her question was followed by the explanation: “Despite this year's IRS scandals involving the targeting of groups and spending oodles of money on videos and other entertainments, the IRS is about to distribute over 70 MILLION dollars in employee bonuses. In five words sum up what you think of this move.”

Third – The Coincidences

Eric Cantor sent me an e-mail. You all have heard of Eric Cantor. Around here (in Fredericksburg, VA) we have heard of Eric Cantor. He is a local. Sort of. Anyway, he sent an e-mail, a form e-mail to be sure, but a high impact e-mail none-the-less. I thought to myself, “Jim? You need to share this.” The gist of the e-mail is that Congress has just set up a new web-site that allows citizens to become more engaged in government, by being citizen co-sponsors on Bills. Here’s some extracts from the e-mail:


“… skipped some lead-in paragraphs here …

I am excited to announce the launch of Cosponsor.gov – a new platform that allows you to become a Citizen Cosponsor of any bill in the House.

Now, any engaged citizen can become a Citizen Cosponsor and track the status of the legislation they care about in the House.

Whether you want to cosponsor new legislation like the Kids First Research Act or become a Citizen CoSponsor of legislation that has already passed the House, like No Budget, No Pay, you can now do so here.

House Republicans believe that transparency, open government and engagement are vital to a modern Congress, and CoSponsor.gov is an important step in that direction.”

The second coincidence was that I signed in to HubPages to get started on my Hub, and had a notification from bethperry’s question, and a challenge: “go for it in a Hub”. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when a charming young lady tells a man to “go for it”, he either goes for it, or goes home with his tail hanging in shame. So, and I know you have heard this line before: "here we are". Where do we go from here?

This outreach site worked - for a while - until Cantor was unseated by Brat in the 2014 elections. The site went away shortly after, but the idea lives on at the Congressional home pages of several representatives.

Screenshot

Visit CoSponsor.gov today and become a Citizen CoSponsor of the bills you care about.  But - you need to be on Facebook.
Visit CoSponsor.gov today and become a Citizen CoSponsor of the bills you care about. But - you need to be on Facebook. | Source

What to Do?

Well, at the risk of getting side-tracked, I visited two web-sites when I first received that e-mail. The first was www.house.gov. The congressional house web-site is used by Congress to report out on its actions. I looked for bills I might be interested in co-sponsoring. Ha! Me, an ordinary grumble-about-government citizen has the audacity to co-sponsor a bill in Congress. Yup - and about time, too. Quick searches did not show any active bills that allowed me to co-sponsor a Repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment. So I opened up the search a bit, and found two things of interest. First – Repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment. Second - Repeal of Health Care. The bills are there, but, no way to be a co-sponsor.

The it hit me, the e-mail was about cosponsor.gov, a different website. So I visited, found a link to list all bills, then found a link to the Fair Tax Act of 2013 (H.R 25), which has the summary "To promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States."

My reaction? Rats chance of that, but I'll sign myself up, just so I can tell others how this works. So here goes. There is a pretty blue button next to the summary that says 'COSPONSOR'. I press it. It brings up a window. The window wants me to log into my face-book account. Major Downer. I'm not on Face-book. I can't cosponsor a bill. But I can write an article about wanting to.

Seriously, other government web-sites let you enter your name or address and zip-code when writing to your Congressman. That works, and it does not require signing up with any one particular Internet Service. If others find they have comments like this, the site has a link that allows feedback to va07webmaster@mail.house.gov. (I used it to provide a comment)

Open Government

Sites such as cosponsor.gov were an attempt at fulfilling the concept of open government. If the former YouCut web-site is an indication, people are looking for ways to participate in government. In today's world, we have seen that government employees take advantage of their position to play favorites with respect to who is going to get a break on taxes, and who is not. It is good to see that our representatives are providing a way to allow us to voice our opinion without having to worry about playing 'Mother May I' with the IRS before doing so.

For now though. you too can respond to bethperry's question with action, rather than just plain old grumbling. Visit house.gov or use the link above to search for cosponsored bills. Unfortunately, you can not go respond to her question anymore. This site took it away. Ah well, here we are now, where to from here?

CoSponsor Defund ObamaCare

A followup visit to cosponsor.gov to check for improvements to the web-sites ability to cosponsor legislation was done on September 20, 2013. Several new links related to repeal of or defunding of the Affordable HealthCare Act. The various bills presented are:

  • H.R 132 - ObamaCare Repeal Act
  • H.R 1005 - Defund ObamaCare Act
  • H.R 45 - Repeal ObamaCare

The site still has an incredibly slow response, and left the impression that their programmers are seeking to show their proficiency with the latest and greatest website hosting technology. They may find that they get better response from the public if they use less glamorous and more functional approaches.

An attempt was made to cosponsor a bill, with a repeat of the pop-up Face-book sign-in window to support co-sponsoring. Not everybody is on Face-book, so this avenue of participation remains closed.

Have you ever tried to cosponsor a bill

Did you find the web-site CoSponsor.gov easy to use?

  • Yes.
  • No.
See results without voting

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Comments 7 comments

bradmasterOCcal profile image

bradmasterOCcal 22 months ago from Orange County California

FitnezzJim

I didn't know about this Fair Tax until now.

But I have on my own been in favor of a National Sales Tax, getting rid of the IRS, and the Internal Revenue Code.

but this bill filled in the blanks.

The Fair Tax HR 25:

* Enables workers to keep their paychecks free of federal withholding

* Allows retirees to keep their entire pensions

* Refunds in advance the tax on purchases of basic necessities

* Allows American products to compete fairly

* Brings transparency and accountability to tax policy

* Ensures Social Security and Medicare funding

* Closes all loopholes and brings fairness to taxation

* Eliminates Corporate Welfare

* Reduces Lobbying efforts in D.C.

* Promotes a smaller, more efficient, more effective government

* Collects taxes from illegals & the underground economy

* Abolishes the IRS

When I commented on the NST, I got a lot of negative responses.

Thanks


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia Author

Thanks for the comment, American_Choices. The impression I developed from the original CoSponsor web-site was that Facebook was chosen to support a proof-of-concept level of implementation for handling identification of their contributors. If it were a full-up web-site that was truly part of our governance system, I’d expect full up identity checks. That way our representatives would have a reasonable basis for claiming that the CoSponsor site input is derived from constituent and voter inputs. As is, anybody can be on Facebook, so anybody can provide input, and the folks responding to that input have no way of knowing exactly who it was that was providing the input. The ‘contact your representative’ capabilities at house.gov have better methods for ensuring that input is coming from a constituent.

The concern is one that is focused on in a relatively new internet industry called ‘Information Assurance’.

I had not considered the possibility that such a site could be viewed as a revenue source. In fact, using such a site for revenue would be scary since it then falls under jurisdiction of our Internal Revenue Service. The quality of the IRS’s level-headed sense of fairness has recently been advertised in Congress and through public news, and found lacking. It would be scary if this type of ‘we need to give you permission’ attitude extended to a site that sought to give our people a voice and role in government.


American_Choices profile image

American_Choices 3 years ago from USA

I like the concept but I have to say that Facebook is becoming a co-partner with government. I don't know if freedom is meant to be completely open. Connecting all the dots completely I can foresee will do harm. Google is trying to jump into the social media but I believe there does need to be an open government and open discussion but do we need to connect this to Facebook?

Government in my opinion needs to look at the Internet as a potential revenue source and place for expressing opinion. Too much government is never good but in this case we have government separate from the Internet - separate in that they are gaining Google adsense revenue.

Google is doing harm IF they don't partner with the government to manage some of this communication and some of this potential adsense revenue.

Important concepts were laid out in this article and I greatly appreciate your contribution. Keep up the good work. Voted up and useful but there should be button for necessary. We are citizens and we must know about this information.


bethperry profile image

bethperry 3 years ago from Tennesee

Hey FitnezzJim,

nicely researched article! Coincidences must be in the water at this time. Shortly after you alerted me to this Hub my husband and I were asked to co-sponsor the abolish the IRS bill by a gentleman we'll just refer to as a loyal American. My hubby has a FB account, so we're good that way. However, we do hope the endorsers will find a more convenient and less-problematic site to work through. A forum with proven reliability will go a long way in recruiting co-sponsors.

It was enjoyable reading your Hub, and always good to know there are others doing what they are able and can to stop feeding the shark. Goddess bless.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 3 years ago

Thanks for the heads-up. I will check it out. Up and useful.


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 3 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia Author

Thank you for an interesting viewpoint. I had similar comments against the former site, YouCut. On that site, it looked like someone had hand-picked a few bills to present as options, and those were all that were available. Cosponsor.gov shows a link to ALL bills, and offers additional links to text of the full bill. I checked those links as part of deciding what to say in the article. It looks to me like the links are there to allow folks to do the more serious 'read the bill' before making a decision. Based on that, I gave the site a thumbs-up, and said as much in my comments back to the site's administrators at house.gov. I also made suggestions.

People are much more likely to participate if they don’t have to struggle through mountains of red-tape to do so, and if they don’t have to ask permission to do so. This site offers that. Will this site change as time goes on? I suspect so.

Feedback on suggestions can be provided at va07webmaster@mail.house.gov. I’ll add that to the article at some point. I’ve already provided feedback to them. Many of your comments should go to them. What we’re potentially talking about is how our government will interface with ‘the people’ in the future. For that to be successful, open discussion is needed. Site adjustments may be needed (it is a beta site) to address the collection of concerns.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for being involved


joer4x4 profile image

joer4x4 3 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

I have to be honest. While it may seem that the co-sponsor site is good and effective at first I see several problems.

1. Very few people are going to read the actual bills and will decide based on the bill's title. All titled legislation is misleading and does not adequately portray the bill.

2. If congress really wanted an open government they would write bills that were easy follow and could be read quickly by those who don't have all day to read a bill.

3. The only action one can take is to co-sponsor a bill. If one does not like the bill the only option is to take no action which could be interpreted as apathetic. The powers that be interpret apathetic as - oh well, let's keep going.

The site does nothing to inform the people what it is going to cost them, why this legislation came about, and who is behind the legislation that convinced the author to write it.

Reading some of the text of the first bill on the site, the Skills Act Hr 803, I find it isn't going to solve any problems in a jobless market where the economy is on the edge. It's obviously a "look good" bill as this was promised over 40 years ago by the educational system to business in exchange to accepting degrees for employment (a dismal failure). In addition the bill (as most are) is unconstitutional for a few reasons as it grows the federal government and forces more bureaucracy on the state level. This is legislation that should originate at the state level and is no concern of the federal government by law.

How about a bill rescinding legislation and taxation that chokes business so business can thrive. How about a tax break for a business that trains its employees like they did 50 years ago.

I see a site that misleads rather than a site seeking true liberty. A site that wants the flock to follow and not decide. If you disagree, they obviously don't want to hear from you.

It was bills like this that created the IRS.

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