New Year in Congress

Monday, January 05, 2009

Yvette Clarke, Congresswoman from New York's 11th district, talks about national politics as well as how her district is weathering the current economic climate. Question of the Day: Should the Obama stimulus bill be put on line for one week before a vote as the Republicans are demanding? Comment below!


Yvette Clarke

Comments [72]

Mary Lane Stuart Seigenfeld from Sacramento, CA

Drew of Haledon, NJ,

I totally agree with you regarding voting online.

To get back in touch, Google my name and find me on LinkedIn.

Mary Lane Stuart Seigenfeld

Dec. 19 2009 12:28 AM
brooklyn woman from brooklyn!


Let Obama and the Democratic Congress do what needs to be done without more Republican obstructionism and diversionary tactics.
How would comments be vetted? how would lobbyists be prevented from hiring people to do nothing all day but post negative comments? How many dishonest Harry and Louise ads would we have to endure to derail important, indeed vital, fiscal stimulus moves?
I say, hire as many new government workers as we need.

Jan. 06 2009 01:24 AM
Ridge from Princeton, NJ

stimulus package -- yes --the legislation should be put online even during the drafting phase. Suggestions could then be sent to our representatives--participation could lead to support.

Jan. 05 2009 12:56 PM
Barbara Jacobs from Stamford, CT

YES - put the bill online. We all know members of Congress do NOT read entire bills before they are passed. Let's put an end to that. This will help reduce the pork in all bills. There was plenty of pork in the TARP rescue bill!

Jan. 05 2009 12:51 PM
Mary Greenly from Hastings-on =Hudson

I think it could work, but the web is too easy to manipulate.

The suggestion of Nat from Bkln for a wiki tracking changes to bills (including names of those proposing the changes) would make me feel a bit better about the idea. And I agree that a week is a minimum for public scrutiny.

Interested citizens should still call or email their representatives and senators with comments.

Also (Pie-in-the-sky department) Congress should make it illegal to vote on any bill members have not had at least 24 hours to study!

Jan. 05 2009 11:38 AM
Adam from NYC

If Caroline Kennedy would like to enter the fray of national politics, and I think she could do a lot of good things there, then she should be appointed by the Obama Admininstration to an appropriate position. I don't know if being appointed by Gov. Patterson to the Senate is the best place for her, where she will be of very low seniority and not have too much clout. Maybe we could hear more on WNYC about the other non-downstate people being considered by Gov. Patterson (or maybe I missed the show).

Jan. 05 2009 11:33 AM
Emese Latkoczy


Jan. 05 2009 11:28 AM
Mitch from NY city

Caroline Kennedy shouldn't be dismissed because of lack of experience. Her problem is that, as I saw her interviewed, she showed no specific reasons why she should be senator or what she would do if appointed.

I think Andrew Cuomo could answer those questions quickly and easily, and... he does have the experience.

Jan. 05 2009 11:24 AM
Chris from Manhattan

Really, I love how the republican party NOW thinks about putting bill/legislative information online for public scrutiny. Where was this idea during the disastrous Bush regime? I would have liked to see this idea in practice for the republican’s publicly funded war in Iraq. And where was this idea at the time Bush was trying to pass HIS stimulosus bill? Gimme a break... Here we go, we are already seeing how divisive the republican party will be during the Obama administration.

Making the Obama stimulus bill public is not a good idea. We already have enough people involved in legislation. Nothing will ever be done, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” isn’t that the saying?

Jan. 05 2009 11:12 AM
Michal from Brooklyn

I agree with [13] and [33], that asking for transparency is hypocrisy.

But, still, we should overcome our pride and realize transparency is a good start.

Will posting a week prior limit creativity? No way, if we--the public--"crowdsources", we will suggest many changes Senators would never think of by themselves.

Jan. 05 2009 11:08 AM
Barbara Russek from Manhattan

I think this is a terrific idea, and agree that it should be applied to all legislation.
Maybe this would ensure that our legislators read the bills that they are voting on! It would also hold them accountable for the contents of the bills. How about also posting an explanation of complicated aspects of bills, or the importance of or pros and cons about certain provisions that might not be obvious to the public. This might help increase confidence that our politicians are actually trying to solve problema and not just doing the politically expedient thing.

Jan. 05 2009 10:58 AM
Ron Raphael from Flatiron district, Manhattan, NYC

Why not look at the last stimulus bill for 700billion dollars that was put through by this administration? Where is the monet that Paulsen promised to the middle and lower classes that needed it? The upper class ceo's certainly don't need it for more bonuses (or whatever they call them).

I do feel that transparency is needed but I feel that supervision is more necessary. Therefore, I feel that the government jobs are much needed.

Jan. 05 2009 10:58 AM
Brian Hotailng from Brooklyn (Prospect Heights)

I find it sadly laughable that the Republican party, who for the last eight years have been a rubber stamp for the most secretive administration in US history, are now the champions of an informed populace. They know it is demand that sounds good but is impossible to do due to the nature of the legislative process.

Physician, heal thyself. THEY should read all the bills they pass. And not set out these cynical political land-mines for the incoming administration. Where was all this demand for sun-light when the Republicans were in charge.

Jan. 05 2009 10:53 AM
Andrea Psoras from Morningside

This is on the 'mengele' medical-big pharma complex:

After WWII, the Helsinki Accords were passed for the international prohibition of experimenting on vulnerable people including prisoners and people impacted by regional crises or war, or disease, and one could argue - the Unemployed and economically challenged people.

Big Pharma such as in 1998-99 Pfizer had experimented on sick people in Uganda, and one could question what caused the particular disease outbreak in Uganda, where Pfizer went in and pushed aside Doctors without Borders. On the sick people, Pfizer used a drug that had been approved in the States for another health problem, but Pfizer's interest to broaden the use and thus profit of the drug took it to this disease outbreak on which the drug proved virtually entirely without success to remedy. It was a scandal and Pfizer's method of paying local doctors 2times more than normal as well as fouling with the work of Doctors without Borders was again, a violation of the Helsinki Accord, but over time gets a pass in part because of the contempt of corporate interests over the civil and un- alienable rights of people abused by that notion that 'capitalism' should get free and unencumbered, unregulated reign.

Over time evidently the people are abused/ignorated into thinking that it is ok to serve as a 'guinea pig' for BigPharma and its corruption and greed. You hear the comments, "oh, I needed the money" or "oh, I didnt have health insurance at the time", rather than avoiding trusting the people who have a rather craven, greed driven, self-serving interest to bring as many drugs to market, and do it at the expense of a drug-free, psycho-pharma chemical free society.

Jan. 05 2009 10:48 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

M Krajci from New York City ...I would say NO party is blameless. The whole housing/mortgage problems can be put on Clinton's watch (as well as good old Barney Frank) AND the whole problem comes from greed and NYC is its home

Jan. 05 2009 10:46 AM
Ralph from The Bowery

"Congress should post the details of what the banks are doing with the $700,000,000,..."

While this may sound like a terrific, good government idea, think about it, please. You might as well just post winners and losers for the investment folks, cuz you'd be telling them who to invest in and who to abandon. Unless you have money to give every single bank, these things have to be kept secret, or the sharks would just circle and devour.

Keeping private who got money and who didn't keeps investers on their toes, thinking that they all did and not knowing who to short-sell. See, though it may sound right, transparency isn't always a great thing for capitalism - screwy as it may be.

Jan. 05 2009 10:41 AM
Andrea Psoras from Morningside

Although a good idea to post it on the website, I vigorously o pposed money going to Paulson's clique, and vigorously oppose the 'stimulus' notion when the Constitutional mandate would be not only to never have passed 'free' ie, anti-constitutional/non-tariff'd trade agreements, but to repeal and reverse these. Moreover, 'tax' breaks, unnecessary for the wealthy, failed to serve as the 'trickle-down' claimed by the bush mob, but overall-more broadly and more deeply, we'd have the improved wealth development from improved domestic production and the ensuant employment.

Jan. 05 2009 10:36 AM
Ronald Shiffman from Brooklyn -11th Congressional District

It is great to post legislative proposals on the web and I fully support transparency. However it and public hearings should not become an excuse for delay. Any stimulus bill must be bold and significant, quickly adopted and an investment in forward thinking and environmentally sustainable infrastructure. It should not be used for ill-conceived development projects such as arenas, shopping malls and auto-dependent projects.

Jan. 05 2009 10:35 AM
Dw. Dunphy from Red Bank, NJ

Having the stimulus program details online is a good idea BUT it is still infuriating in a way. Our elected officials are supposed to be there to represent the people and make sure pork, special interests and the like aren't getting shoved in. That's their job.

The fact that it would still need public scrutiny online says two things to me - the role of Congress is an antiquated redundancy draining finances better served otherwise... and because we cannot hold our elected officials to the fire for bad policy and such, our system is fundamentally flawed and corrupted, making online scrutiny almost a necessity.

Jan. 05 2009 10:34 AM
hjs from 11211

it would be great. many times lawmakers claim they don't know what's in a bill, maybe now they have a chance to see it before they have to vote...

Jan. 05 2009 10:32 AM
Suman Ganguli from Fort Greene, Brooklyn

I agree that the bill should be posted online before a vote, and that in general legislation should move in this direction.

It's a smart move by the Republicans to stake out this position, especially b/c transparency and grassroots (via the web) are of course parts of Obama's territory.

But that also makes me hopeful that the Obama Administration will help "convince" the Congressional Democrats to go along with this.

In particular, see what people like Thaler, Sunstein, and Goolsbee (Chicago economists who have helped advise Obama) have written on this topic, e.g.,

Also looks like Sunstein's book " 2.0" is relevant here:

Jan. 05 2009 10:31 AM
Robert from Manhattan

One correction to Representative Clark, and to many others I have heard on the air, including Chris Matthews: the governor of Illinois has NOT yet been indicted! The prosecutor has filed a complaint that could lead to an indictment (and probably will), but no indictment has occurred yet. The prosecutor is still building the case that he plans to submit to the grand jury.

Jan. 05 2009 10:30 AM
M Krajci from New York City

No. the Republicans lost the election by a landslide. It should be Obama's decision how to communicate to the public. The Republicans have spend the past 20 years getting us into this mess, now it is the Democrats that have to bail us out. Who put the Republicans in charge, and why should anyone listen to anything they have to say?

Jan. 05 2009 10:29 AM
Shirley Rausher from NYC

Your humanistic concerns on the effects of the Obama Stimulus package is well known for jobs and education, and I congratulate you on that. I hope you will also recognize that moving as a Congresswoman in the 111th Congress to assisting in an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Crisis has US implications. Will you be moving in that direction?

Jan. 05 2009 10:28 AM
Thomas Eccardt from Manhattan

Republicans ask for openness and fairness only when it helps THEM.

Think about how Giuliani campaigned for proportional electoral college representation only for California, not for the entire country. That would have sealed the presidency for the Republicans for the foreseeable future, no matter how the popular vote turned out.

There are many other examples.

Jan. 05 2009 10:28 AM
richard kahn from manhattan

I am glad you brought up student loans. I have yet to hear anything about relief for those who were paying their loans back but cannot continue paying now due to the economy. They legitimately invested in their future, began paying and are now in the position of mortgage payers who were also jolted into inability to pay. Could the Congresswoman comment on this?

Jan. 05 2009 10:27 AM
Paul Johnson from Stamford, CT

I think the idea is to put it up online for review and transparency, not for public vote. I agree that popular, online vote would be too cumbersome and would contradict a republican form of government. I think this is just for transparency.... just because a Republican congressman suggested it, doesn't make it a bad idea.

Jan. 05 2009 10:27 AM
Brandon from Brooklyn

Student Loan Activism,

Jan. 05 2009 10:27 AM
Nicole from nyc

It's a great idea to post it. . . however, in our technologically advanced world, there are actually a number of design questions that you have to address for any feedback on the bill to be useful. Like can posts be anonymous, do you have to create an id, where is people's personal information stored. . . unfortunately, i think the only "government" site capable of this in the next several weeks is Obama's - which is not a the right place to post the bill.

on the subject of tarp, it's not working the way it's supposed to, but do not forget. .. before it was passed, we were having multiple major bank failures a week. while our current economic conditions leave a bit to be desired, i think it would be worse if we still had banks failing constantly.

Jan. 05 2009 10:25 AM
nat from brooklyn

Every Congressional bill should be online. They should all be in some sort of wiki, where changes to the document are tracked to the office of the specific House Representative or Senator that is proposing changes. This way every line of pork and waste can be aggregated and come 2010 we can really see past the campaign speeches and not only have a voting record, but also a record of how each legislator actually took part in writing laws.

Jan. 05 2009 10:24 AM
informed citizen from NYC

Congress should post the details of what the banks are doing with the $700,000,000, and what the auto makers are doing with their money, along with the details of a new plan for "regular" people. Why didn't the Republicans insist on this with those earlier bills?

Jan. 05 2009 10:24 AM
cogency from montclair

We haven't the time to contend with large-scale e-mailings organized by opposing special interest groups. Town Hall meetings are great for towns, but not a very effective way to run a nation our size.

Jan. 05 2009 10:24 AM
Kevin from Scotch Plains

It would make a nice contrast with the previous administration but I agree it is a bit impractical. Just imagine if Cheney had convened his energy panel after a one week public comment!

Jan. 05 2009 10:24 AM
Mike in Manhattan from Inwood, NYC

I think this is an obvious attempt by Repubs to orchestrate a refocus of the recovery plan to their constituents in Big Business and the western and southern states. (a la the publicity campaign to stop health care reform in the Clinton first term.)

However it could backfire if the Obama emailing lists are used to promote strong support progressive aspects of bill.

Jan. 05 2009 10:23 AM
Rosemarie Merino from Tenafly, NJ

Yes, the Stimulus bill should be put on-line. The Republicans will rue the day when they asked for it! They still do not understand the damage they have done to the country. Too little too late isn't good enough. We need bold action now.

Jan. 05 2009 10:23 AM
chefesse from brooklyn

achhhh....I can't help but respond to the sentence "posting the plan online as THE REPUBLICANS ARE DEMANDING"

Since WHEN are the repubs interested in open government?

I had to laugh....after 8 years of the most secretive administration, deleted emails and all...

anyway...I'm all for open government, even though it opens us up to all the special interest groups yelling and screaming about getting/not getting what they want.

Jan. 05 2009 10:23 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Why stop at the Obama stimulus package? Put ALL bills/proposed legislation online in it's final unchanging format one week prior to the vote.
This is a Republican tactic to try to discredit the new legislation and say it's veiled in secrecy... call their bluff and make it law that ALL legislation be posted online in its full format at least one week before it is voted on.
No one currently in congress would be reelected, but that's probably a good thing.

Jan. 05 2009 10:23 AM
Richard Goldstein from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

Yes, transparency as an on-going process is important and all bills should be put on line. Better legislation will result.

Jan. 05 2009 10:23 AM
Nancy Mickulas from Hempstead, NY

I agree completely with Stan from NYC! Did Republicans ask when we went to war and spent TRILLIONS of dollars and when we bailed out banks and financial institutions? NO!

Jan. 05 2009 10:22 AM
Robert from Manhattan

Republicans want transparency in government??? I could plotz. It's amazing how honestly they want government to run when they are not in charge. How many bills were passed during the period of Republican monopoly with the votes of lawmakers who had never even read the bills???

But aside from the Republicans' sheer dishonesty in wanting sunshine only when others govern ... why not put bills online? As long as the goal is not Harry and Louise-style paralysis of the system, sure. One wonders whether McConnell's true goal is honest government, or simple obstructionism.

And yes ... Caroline Kennedy should take a few years on the sidelines to study what people like your guest already know. Maybe Caroline and the Alaskan pit bull should take the class together!

Jan. 05 2009 10:22 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

Of course you will vote for the second 1/2 of the bailout!

Jan. 05 2009 10:21 AM
John from manhattan

What precedent have we from the Republicans for such a move?

Jan. 05 2009 10:21 AM
Mark from Manhattan

It would have been nice for transparency to have been an issue in the last 8 years. Why do democrats have to say "how high?" when Republicans ask for it and it not work the other way around when more humanitarian issues are at stake?

Jan. 05 2009 10:20 AM
Paul Johnson from Stamford, CT

As for putting the bill online; not just yes, but hell yes. The only reason not to put it online would be to hide pork.

Jan. 05 2009 10:20 AM
Richard from Summit NJ

EVERY bill should be online for at least a week.

Better than that, legislators should be REQUIRED to read EVERY bill they vote on, and bills should contain only single elements.

It was the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which made it illegal to regulate interest default swaps and was never debated in either house, that got us into this mess. It was part of an omnibus spending bill incorporating dozens of other provisions.

This structural defect must be remedied.

Downsize DC !!!

Jan. 05 2009 10:20 AM
Suzel Stampleman from New York City

Concerning whether it is a good idea to post the contents of Obama's stimulus package on line:sure it is. Ironic though that the Republicans are asking for that.. So....I would like to see the current administration put on line what they are doing or have done about insuring that last year's 700 billion stimulus package to financial institutions is or has been used as as many of us thought it was meant to be.

Jan. 05 2009 10:20 AM
Drew Yskamp from Haledon, NJ

Asking people to vote online regarding the enactment of a proposed legislation directly contradicts our form of republican government, where we vote for the people who make our laws. Do they now need our help? Maybe they shouldn't have been elected to office in the first place. Asking those who can do so to express a judgment online is a step toward changing our form of government, a form that our founders wisely rejected over 200 years ago.

Jan. 05 2009 10:20 AM
Fuva from Harlem, NY

OF COURSE putting the bill online is a good idea.

It would be a step in the direction of demystifying government, which is required for any kind of actual "change". Further steps would be needed, but it's a no-brainer.

Jan. 05 2009 10:19 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

Your fed up? Dudette you are the problem! How did u vote of the bailouts? You voted for them didn't you. You are clueless you are afraid like everyone else.

Jan. 05 2009 10:19 AM
RJ from Brooklyn

Given the lack of oversight and "loss" of billions of dollars over the past 8 years (and before), it may take at least 600,000 people to oversee the *accountable* use of the more than a trillion dollars.

Jan. 05 2009 10:17 AM
steve eisenberg from springfield, nj

Of course it should be put on line. And Mitch McConnell should explain how past government privatizing of employment in the past has not been a contributor to the circumstances that we now are confronted with. Does he still cling to the notion that propping up the private sector is a better alternative to properly managing the public sector.

Jan. 05 2009 10:17 AM
Mike from NY

Yes, let's begin a new phase of openness from our leaders.

Jan. 05 2009 10:16 AM
Jeff from Midtown

I'd like to see it on-line, but if I'm the Senate leadership, I would insist that the Republican party agrees to put all proposed amendments and at least one counter-proposal on-line before refusing to vote for any plan that is offered.

Jan. 05 2009 10:16 AM

Yup. Putting it online sounds good. Given the size and scope of the proposal a week sounds a bit short. Could take that long to look it over. Perhaps have it up for two weeks with comment period starting after the first week to encourage folks to actually read it before commenting?

Jan. 05 2009 10:16 AM
peter gonzales from nj

Yes i feel the stimulus package needs to be on line for everyone to see. 2 weeks. and public hearings.

Jan. 05 2009 10:16 AM
LM from New York

While it would be great to see the final bailout online, it is ironic that the Republicans never offered to do this for any of its own legislative maneuvers ranging from the previous two bailouts to any other legislation in the public interest. (whats good for the goose...)?

Jan. 05 2009 10:15 AM
Diane from Somerset, NJ

It seems absurd to require policy proposals to be posted for one week before implementation. Often legislators barely get a chance to read an entire bill before they vote on it -- negotiations often take place up to the last minute. This is silly and will prevent creativity and progress on critical issues that need to be resolved now.

Jan. 05 2009 10:15 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

we need to
1) Cut spending on needless imperial programs
2) money to different countries around the world
3) bring the troops home
4) tell people to save
5) cut big government

Jan. 05 2009 10:14 AM
Michael from Queens

I wish Bloomberg would have been as emphatic in his solidarity with dead and injured Palestian civilians, as he was with inhabitants of Sderot and other locales that were within missile range.

He is the mayor of us ALL is he not?

Jan. 05 2009 10:14 AM
Jason from New York

Why do Republicans demand so much transparency from the Obama administration when they were fine and dandy with the most secret and shady administration in the current era? If Obama agrees to post his plan online, then GWB and his goons should stop hiding behind the executive privilege excuse.

Jan. 05 2009 10:14 AM
MMN from Midtown Manhattan

Yes - the stimulus bill should be put on line one week before a vote. Those who are interested in being proactive can then reach out to the representatives they voted in and tell them what they think about it. At least this should be given an experimental run.

Jan. 05 2009 10:14 AM
drew from harlem

McConnell is a total tea bag- he's all wet and his party's stance on the issues is irrelevant. it's obvious that from food to banking to trade to pharmaceuticals to agriculture practices our government needs to conduct more oversight of the private sector that is hellbent on sucking money from the people and feeding it to the ceo's of the multinational corporations that line the Republicans pockets. Voluntary compliance with lax regulation has proven itself unworkable and unfeasible and detrimental to the country and the planet. Unfortunately, even though the country is screaming about what it wants and what it needs the namby-pamby Democrats are going to continue to capitulate and allow the monied interests that dominate D.C. and goings on therein.

Jan. 05 2009 10:13 AM
Jason from New York

Right, because Proposition 8 went over so well for human beings. (sarcasm)

Jan. 05 2009 10:12 AM
courtney from brooklyn

Re: Republicans' request for stimulus pkg details to be put online:

Sure, why not. It's nice to see the Republicans taking a sort of populist approach for a change. I think it will backfire because the overwhelming response will likely be in favor it.

Jan. 05 2009 10:12 AM
stan from nyc

when the republicans put their bank bail-out program online so we can know where the money went; when the republicans put their iraq war plans online so we can decide on their rationale for war; when the republicans put their notions online on how to keep the restrictions of the patriot act intact. . .then they can demand of obama that he allow public opinion to weigh in.

Jan. 05 2009 10:12 AM
Gabby from Manhattan

It absolutely should be put online. Especially Obama of all presidents. He's the grassroots president who said everyone should participate.

Jan. 05 2009 10:11 AM
Alexander Heilner from Prospect Heights, Brtooklyn

EVERY bill congress takes up should be put on line for the public to see. Why not put wiki power to work to keep the federal government transparent and accountable?

Jan. 05 2009 10:11 AM
Joe Corrao from Brooklyn

The absolute worst thing we can do right now is print more money.

Jan. 05 2009 10:11 AM

Yes! The stimulus package should be online! We should be able to see where our money is going. This could set the stage for a new era of government transparency and be a great way to bring in a new administration. I'd be interested to see how much of the stimulus package is going to transit projects.

Jan. 05 2009 10:10 AM
DAvid from Manhattan

Totes. Put the bill online.

Jan. 05 2009 10:10 AM
mc from Brooklyn

#1 Robert:
Agreed. Better her than C. Kennedy.

Jan. 05 2009 09:52 AM
Robert from NYC

Congresswoman Clarke should put her name in for Senator to Hilary Clinton's seat!

Jan. 05 2009 09:07 AM

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