Politicians in Washington use 5 tricks to hide their failures from us. Use the box on this page to tell your representatives in Congress that you demand an honest deal.
You think you know why our government in Washington is broken, but you really don't.
A half century ago, elected officials in Congress and the White House figured out a tricky new system for enacting laws and handling the people’s money. With five key tricks, politicians of both parties now take credit for promising good news while avoiding blame for bad results.
The trickery has inevitably led to bad results galore and a desperate electorate. In the early 1960s, before the five tricks began, the overwhelming majority of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing. After the tricks started in the late 1960s, the trust turned into profound distrust. That was well before the gridlock and polarization that is usually blamed for broken government.
As revealed by David Schoenbrod in his new book, DC Confidential: Inside the Five Tricks of Washington, with forewards from Howard Dean and US Senator Mike Lee, here are the five tricks and how the Honest Deal Act would stop them:
- The Money Trick lets members of Congress and presidents shift to their successors in office the blame for the tax increases and benefit cuts that will result from current policy. Much as the Truth in Lending Act requires lenders to disclose to prospective borrowers how much they will have to pay in the future, the Honest Deal Act would require government to disclose to voters the average cost per family of the spending cuts or tax increases needed for government to make ends meet in the long run and how much that cost changed in the last Congress.
- The Debt Guarantee Trick lets members of Congress and presidents shift to their successors in office the blame for the fiscal crises and economic misery that will result from current debt guarantees that increase profits on Wall Street. The Honest Deal Act would charge the businesses that benefit from the debt guarantees fees that go up when a firm takes more risk, thereby cutting their profits when they take risks that could lead a fiscal crisis.
- The Federal Mandate Trick lets federal officials shift to state officials the blame for the burdens needed to deliver the benefits for which the federal officials take credit. The Honest Deal Act would trigger roll call votes on the most controversial new mandates and thus make members of Congress responsible for the burdens that they impose through state and local government.
- The Regulation Trick lets current members of Congress and presidents shift blame to federal agencies for the burdens required to vindicate rights to regulatory protection and the failures to vindicate them. Implementing a proposal by James Landis, the New Deal expert, and detailed by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Honest Deal Act would require members of Congress to cast roll calls votes on major regulatory changes, whether to strengthen or weaken regulation.
- The War Trick lets members of Congress shift to the president blame for wars that prove unpopular. The Honest Deal Act would require members of Congress to vote on wars at the outset.
We can stop these tricks once and for all by demanding that Congress passes the Honest Deal Act. Some key members of Congress are already interested in the act, but more members need to hear from us so there is pressure to actually consider it.
Ready to tell your members of Congress you want an honest deal? Use the nearby box —simply enter your information and click "Start Writing."
Learn more: Visit www.DC-Confidential.org for more information on the Honest Deal Act, including online "games" that reveal the sleight of hands through which elected officials trick us and why the Honest Deal Act would work to force them to come clean.