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?
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 form 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 many of 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.
Representatives Still Invite Citizens to CoSponsor Bills
This link gives a shortcut to searching for cosponsored bills on .gov websites.
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.
Then 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. (I used it to provide a comment)
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.