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The Pitfalls of Email, The Power of Openness

October 21, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Here's a scary indicator of the state of politics. Of all the substantial legislation has gone through Congress this session that people might be reviewing as the midterms approach -- i.e. health care reform, financial reform, stimulus measures -- the two bills people are viewing most often these days on on OpenCongress are outlandish, non-viable proposals that have no support and no chance of being taken seriously by congressional leaders, ever. These bills are getting twice as much attention as the new health care law, and five times the attention of financial reform. In fact, the closer we get to the midterms, the more attention they get.

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Here we have yet another example of an oddball bill in Congress being used, inappropriately, as evidence for something unpopular that "the government" is supposedly trying to do.

The Debt Free America Act, which would replace the individual income tax with a new 1% tax on every consumer financial transaction, was introduced in the House of Representatives on Feb. 23, 2010 by Rep. Chaka Fattah [D, PA-2]. It has zero co-sponsors, hasn't seen any movement in the legislative process, and is going nowhere. Yet there is suddenly a bit of buzz around it. It's been creeping up the most-viewed bill list on OpenCongress and this week has been viewed more times than major bills like the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, the House climate change bill, and the DISCLOSE Act. Most of the views are coming from search engines, presumably because of rumors that are circulating via email, like this one collected by Snopes.com:

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Conyers' Deficit-Neutral Jobs Bill

July 14, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

If I had to pick the top three factors in U.S. politics right now I would say the unemployment situation, concern about the deficit, and distrust of the financial industry. Remarkably, Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14] (pictured) has introduced a bill this session that seems to fall on the popular side of all three of these issues. It would be deficit neutral, dramatically reduce unemployment, and levy a new tax on the riskiest Wall Street transactions. The bill is called the 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act. Here's how it would work.

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