Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2,000 Pages: Is it the New 25 Pages?

Nick Schulz at the Enterprise blog reports on the number of pages in various pieces of important U.S. legislation from the 1800s (Homestead Act with 9 pages) through the current heathcare bill (about 2,000 pages), see summary in the graph above.

By the way, here's what 2,000 pages looks like, it's Ford's 2007 master contract with the UAW and totals 2,215 pages:

Compare that to the 24 page 1941 Ford-UAW contract below, which coincidentally was about the same size as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (25 pages):


At 12/30/2009 12:40 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Actually, the critics want it both ways. If a bill is very short, they say it is not explicit. If it is long, they say how long it is.

How many pages are in the Department of Defense Budget?
If it is 4,123 pages, we can say no one read it, there is no oversight.

If if is 21 pages, we can say they are spending money without any oversight, as spending is not properly delineated.

I keep hoping the right-wing will mature, and begin to open it eyes about the true nature of federal outlays. Simply bashing Obama does not balance the federal budget.

At 12/30/2009 12:52 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

The amount of pages in a bill must be symbolic of accomplishment to legislators. Other misbegotten indicators seem to be applause and laughs pointing to leadership.

A well experienced lawyer wrote one of greatest speeches of all time in only 144 words -- The Gettysburg Address.

At 12/30/2009 1:20 PM, Blogger Hot_Dog_Friend said...

well, they needed to do this, so people do not print it out, rather than reading online :-)))

At 12/30/2009 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David Reilly, over at Bloomberg, has actually read the House Democrats "financial-reform" legislation (HR 4173) that people like Benny and Mach999 insist is essential for our future well being. What he found was not pretty, 1279 pages of giveaways, patronage and spelling errors. A blueprint for moral hazard and political corruption. Pathetic.

At 12/30/2009 1:36 PM, Blogger KO said...

The main reason these bills are so long now is they're no longer done for the common good, but for specific good. And the legislators aren't dumb enough to just put "$300 million payoff to Louisiana to buy a vote." They artfully craft restrictions such that only a limited area, group, state, entity, etc. can qualify.

The "stimulus" bill was rife with these as well, yet was parroted as being free of earmarks.

At 12/30/2009 1:40 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

This is a small excerpt for the 2008 Defense Department bill, which ran over 600 pages.

‘‘1605A. Terrorism exception to the jurisdictional immunity of a foreign state.’’.
(1) GENERAL EXCEPTION.—Section 1605 of title 28, United
States Code, is amended—
(A) in subsection (a)—
(i) in paragraph (5)(B), by inserting ‘‘or’’ after the
(ii) in paragraph (6)(D), by striking ‘‘; or’’ and
inserting a period; and
(iii) by striking paragraph (7);
(B) by repealing subsections (e) and (f); and
(C) in subsection (g)(1)(A), by striking ‘‘but for subsection
(a)(7)’’ and inserting ‘‘but for section 1605A’’.
(2) COUNTERCLAIMS.—Section 1607(a) of title 28, United
States Code, is amended by inserting ‘‘or 1605A’’ after ‘‘1605’’.
(3) PROPERTY.—Section 1610 of title 28, United States Code,
is amended—
(A) in subsection (a)(7), by striking ‘‘1605(a)(7)’’ and
inserting ‘‘1605A’’;
(B) in subsection (b)(2), by striking ‘‘(5), or (7), or
1605(b)’’ and inserting ‘‘or (5), 1605(b), or 1605A’’;
(C) in subsection (f), in paragraphs (1)(A) and (2)(A),
by inserting ‘‘(as in effect before the enactment of section
1605A) or section 1605A’’ after ‘‘1605(a)(7)’’; and
(D) by adding at the end the following:
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Subject to paragraph (3), the property
of a foreign state against which a judgment is entered under
section 1605A, and the property of an agency or instrumentality
of such a state, including property that is a separate juridical
entity or is an interest held directly or indirectly in a separate
juridical entity, is subject to attachment in aid of execution,
and execution, upon that judgment as provided in this section,
regardless of—
H. R. 1585—338
‘‘(A) the level of economic control over the property
by the government of the foreign state;
‘‘(B) whether the profits of the property go to that
‘‘(C) the degree to which officials of that government
manage the property or otherwise control its daily affairs;
‘‘(D) whether that government is the sole beneficiary
in interest of the property; or
‘‘(E) whether establishing the property as a separate
entity would entitle the foreign state to benefits in United
States courts while avoiding its obligations.
Any property of a foreign state, or agency or instrumentality
of a foreign state, to which paragraph (1) applies shall not
be immune from attachment in aid of execution, or execution,
upon a judgment entered under section 1605A because the
property is regulated by the United States Government by
reason of action taken against that foreign state under the
Trading With the Enemy Act or the International Emergency
Economic Powers Act.
this subsection shall be construed to supersede the authority
of a court to prevent appropriately the impairment of an
interest held by a person who is not liable in the action giving
rise to a judgment in property subject to attachment in aid

At 12/30/2009 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, the "stimulus" bill, by necessity, had to be long to include goodies like these:

The Top 10 Most Ridiculous Uses of Stimulus Funds

Of course, "Benny, the broken record" will insist that all of these outlays are more important than spending on the evil American military. He might have a point with the massage parlor.

At 12/30/2009 2:06 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

This is an interesting article. For decades many defense experts have pondered if surface ships are worthless in real battles. Too expensive and vulnerable to actually use in real warfare.

June 19, 2007

An All-Submarine Navy
Mike Burleson

Last week, the third in a new class of underwater battleships, the USS MICHIGAN, joined the fleet after a $1 billion face lift. The 4 converted subs of the OHIO class, former Trident missile ships, are the undersea equivalent of the reborn IOWA class from the 1980’s. Armed with over 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus the ability to carry special forces and unmanned vehicles, they give the Navy an incredible ability to strike decisively from the sea.

I am of the opinion that in full-scale shooting war at sea, the US surface navy will be devastated in the first day., by the combination of cruise missiles and stealthy submarines. The survivors would all be forced into port, unable to participate in the counterattack, which would likely be initiated by our own deadly nuclear attack submarines...."

But where is the right-wing ranting against fleets that are nothing more than floating bulleyes?

At 12/30/2009 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, why could those defense bills be so big and expensive? It couldn't be all the pork and graft added by politicians, could it? Well certainly not the Democrats, who spend so much time screaming about military spending.

One of the most favored insiders in Representative John Murtha’s (D) rich churn of defense earmarks has pleaded guilty to criminal charges, shedding light on a twisting, pay-to-play money trail. The contractor, Richard Ianieri, admitted taking $200,000 in bribes from another big defense contractor in the Murtha (D) orbit, and is cooperating with investigators.

“What’s that got to do with me?” commented Mr. Murtha (D), who previously lavished praise and tens of millions of dollars in contracts on the two companies caught up in the criminal investigation.

He asks an ever more urgent question. Investigators have not identified him as a target. But the inquiry is backtracking a trail of hundreds of millions awarded to Pentagon contractors who gratefully requited with tens of millions in political donations to Democrats on the appropriations subcommittee headed by Mr. Murtha (D).

In just one tangent of the complex inquiry, Mr. Ianieri’s company hired the lobbying firm of Mr. Murtha’s (D) brother Kit. The company soon was blessed with money from an $8.2 million defense earmark. The Capitol newspaper Roll Call reported last month that Representative Murtha, using a 2005 tsunami relief bill, took the $8.2 million from another contractor that had severed ties with his brother’s lobbying firm. The Department of Justice alleges that Mr. Ianieri’s company then illicitly distributed $1.8 million of the money to other companies, some of them represented by Kit Murtha’s firm.

The Murtha (D) money trail is far from fully explored but already features a second tangent of Congressional appropriations staff members’ exiting through the golden door to defense lobbying and scoring big contracts from their old bosses. Taxpayers should press the question of what all this has to do with Mr. Murtha (D) (who has also used his gavel to create a luxury supermart of defense contractors in his Pennsylvania district).

New York Times

I had to add all the (D)'s after Murtha's name. For some reason the MSM doesn't like to do that. Unless, of course, the politician is a Republican. Go figure.

At 12/30/2009 2:31 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

I have many times expressed deep skepticism about the motives and fiscal fecklessness of both parties.
What bothers me is when right-wingers believe the R-Party is any sort of solution to garish and runaway federal psending.

At 12/30/2009 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an interesting article. For decades many defense experts have pondered if surface ships are worthless in real battles.

Well, Admiral Benny, it's only interesting to you because you know nothing about anti-submarine warfare. I seem to remember the Japanese using "guided missiles" (Kamikaze) against our surface fleet. How did that work out for them?

At 12/30/2009 3:28 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...


Check out the writings of Paul Cohen, who was a commander in the Navy.

It was in WWII that the battleship became obsolete. Too easily sunk by airplanes and subs. Japan constructed enormous battleships, the Yamato and Musashi, the largest ever built. They were useless, and stayed out of battle until late in the war, when they were almost immediately sunk.

It is odd that when someone proposes a more potent and cheaper military--that would be good for the USA--he is attacked as unpatriotic.

That is how subverted the right-wing has become.

As long ago as the 1971, Cohen argued all surface ships have become battleships--too vulnerable. Easy to see and sink. Think Exocet missiles.

At 12/30/2009 3:46 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Long bills are used to hide things. Bulldoze half of Washington, DC.

At 12/30/2009 4:08 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

What is the source of the 2,000 page number?

At 12/30/2009 4:14 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

By the way, there is the current house bill:

It is 1,018 pages. However, note that these pages are double spaces and have wide margins. Only 7 words per line on average. This would be about 250 pages with normal margins and single space. Is the comparison in the graph provided apples to apples? Still quite large, no question, but the 2,000 page number seems a bit of an exaggeration to me.

At 12/30/2009 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is odd that when someone proposes a more potent and cheaper military--that would be good for the USA--he is attacked as unpatriotic.

No one suggested that you were unpatriotic, just ignorant. It's you who has suggested that the "right-wing" wants our servicemen to be little more than sitting-ducks in the face of enemy attack simply to satisfy our blind partisanship. What was that you said about maturing?

That is how subverted the right-wing has become.

Unwillingness to accept your blather does not equal subversion.

At 12/30/2009 5:09 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"I keep hoping the right-wing will mature, and begin to open it eyes about the true nature of federal outlays. Simply bashing Obama does not balance the federal budget."

Neither does supporting this idiot's staggering spending binge. The Bush budgets look like the good old days in comparison. There's simply no equivalence though you like to do the "pox on both their houses but especially the right wing's" schtick.

At 12/30/2009 5:56 PM, Anonymous Benny The Man said...

Actually, the cause of runaway federal spending usually comes back to a central truth about all federal agencies--they do not face market competition.

Layers of fat built up, never steamed off by competition.
The DoD, along with the rest of the federal government, is largely characterized by ossified lard, patriotic patronage and waste.

The fact that the Navy doesn't want to give up surface ships--well the Spanish Armada loved big ships in the Anglo-Spanish war (1500s) and met defeat by craftier and smaller Brit vessels, and the Japanese loved huge battleships in WWII, which were quickly sunk when finally deployed.

It takes a long, long time for government thinking to change. Sometimes centuries.

The bulk of federal outlays financed by income taxes are spent on right-wing sacred cows, including Defense, Agriculture, VA, civilian defense, rural development, and debt. (The overly large Medicare and Social Security programs are financed by payroll taxes).

If you want income tax cuts...then you are going to have to cut some of the above programs.

What is wrong with directing DoD to write up a program for defending our nation for $400 billion a year, and directing Agriculture to write up a five-year sunset plan?

And a 15 percent across the board cut of the remainder of federal spending?

At 12/30/2009 7:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bulk of federal outlays financed by income taxes are spent on right-wing sacred cows, including Defense, Agriculture, VA, civilian defense, rural development, and debt.

You are completely clueless. We spend more on welfare than on national defense, yet somehow we never here you gripe about that.

... means-tested welfare or aid to poor and low-income persons is now the third most expensive government function. Its cost ranks below support for the elderly through Social Security and Medicare and below government expenditures on education, but above spending on national defense. Prior to the current recession, one dollar in seven in total federal, state, and local government spending went to means-tested welfare.

Total means-tested welfare spending in FY 2008 amounted to around $16,800 for each poor person in the U.S.;
however, some welfare spending goes to individuals who have low incomes but are not below the official poverty
line (about $22,200 per year for a family of four). Typically, welfare benefits are received not just by the poor, but
also by persons who have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($44,400 per year for a family of
four). Around one-third of the U.S. population falls within this lower income range. On average, welfare spending
amounts to around $7,000 per year for each individual who is poor or who has an income below 200 percent of the
poverty level. This comes to $28,000 per year for each lower-income family of four.

Welfare spending has grown enormously since President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty. Welfare
spending was 13 times greater in FY 2008, after adjusting for inflation, than it was when the War on Poverty
started in 1964. Means-tested welfare spending was 1.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) when President
Johnson began the War on Poverty. In 2008, it reached 5 percent of GDP.

Annual means-tested welfare spending is more than sufficient to eliminate poverty in the United States. The U.S.
Census Bureau, which is in charge of measuring poverty and inequality in the nation, defines a family as poor if its
annual income falls below official poverty income thresholds. If total means-tested welfare spending were simply
converted into cash benefits, the sum would be nearly four times the amount needed to raise the income of all poor
families above the official poverty line.

One may reasonably ask how government can spend so much on welfare and still have great inequality and so
many people living in apparent poverty.


No, the only part of the budget that receives scrutiny from leftists like you is the part that provides and cares for the people who risk their lives guaranteeing the nations freedom and security.

Instead of posting the same ignorant anti-military rants, over and over again, why not focus on the billions your Democrat friends waste and steal. After you've taken care of that then get back to us on military spending.

At 12/31/2009 12:13 AM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Benny has it right on the contents of any bill. Recall a couple of weeks ago when the republicans made the clerk of the senate read the Reed amendment it was a lot of move this comma, add this or etc. It was a great way to put yourself to sleep.
The real issue is when to we go back to isolationism and tell let the Chinese have Afghanistan. (They are not quite as nice as we are, more willing to knock heads). Let the Chinese police the world, they will find out its no fun and a great way to bankrupt your country.


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