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article imageOp-Ed: Introducing direct democracy into Congress

By Sami Zaatari     Dec 13, 2012 in Politics
Washington - Negotiations to try and reach some sort of agreement to head off the looming fiscal cliff, continues between both Democrats and Republicans, though the likelihood of reaching some sort of deal seem unlikely at the moment.
At the heart of the debate between both parties, is the issue of tax increases, specifically for the top 2% of American earners, who make an annual income of $250,000 or more.
The Democrats seek to end the Bush era tax cuts for those making $250,000 and above. Democrats argue that increasing the tax percentage on the wealthy, will help raise revenue for the government, revenue the government needs to help it pay off it's massive debt, and keep the deficit at a minimum.
Republicans on the other hand are vehemently opposed to any tax increases, arguing that tax increases on the wealthy does not increase revenue, and that it rather stifles economic growth.
As a result of this core difference between both parties, no agreement can be reached at the moment, and in effect the rest of America is being held hostage unless something get's done. If no agreement can be reached, the Bush era tax cuts will come to an end, and everybody's taxes will increase, and this would obviously be an overburden to the middle and lower classes of American society, who are already struggling with a weak economy.
This hasn't been the first time in which American's have been held hostage to the politics of Washington, the health care reform debate also went through such an episode, a much longer episode. The way it works in Washington, specifically in the houses of congress, is very simple, in order to pass any bill into law, or even onto the house, a majority vote must be reached.
So for example in the house of senate, Democrats control the senate, but they don't have a majority in numbers, so Republicans who disagree on any issue with the Democrats, can simply utilise what's known as a filibuster, thereby insuring nothing actually get's done.
One way to counter this political bickering would be to introduce a policy of direct democracy into the houses of both congress. If both parties cannot come to an agreement, on a major political issue that affects the American people, then the bill in question, should be put forward for the American people to decide, and for the American people to have their say.
So for example on the issue of tax increases on the wealthy, if both parties cannot come to an agreement on whether taxes should or shouldn't be raised on the wealthy, then this bill should be put forward to the American people, and if the Americans were to vote in favour of Obama's bill, a tax increase on the rich, then the bill would pass and become law. If the bill didn't receive a majority vote from the people, then obviously it wouldn't pass, and that would be the end of it.
America is a nation of over 300 million people, and it is unacceptable, that hundreds of millions of Americans, are affected by major issues, because a few dozen men in congress can't make their minds up and come to some sort of agreement.
With the threat of direct democracy as well, it would be put further pressure on congressmen/women to actually get things done, rather than wasting everybody's time through their political tactics and ploys. Nothing would make a politician work harder, than realising his power grasp on an issue was about to be lost to the people unless some sort of agreement was reached. Direct democracy into congress would be a great incentive to get things moving.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Congress, fiscal cliff, Filibuster, Republicans, Democrats
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