We have often heard a Member of Congress utter these fateful words: "Tomorrow, I plan to introduce legislation ..." New tax breaks, new regulations, a study of this or that, declarations, recognitions. Usually introduced because there's some perceived crisis or – worse – because the member feels they have to appear active to the voters back home.
And we, the electorate, are guilty too. "Our tax dollars are paying their salaries and we demand action!" On top of that, lobbyists for various companies and causes are pushing their own agenda, looking for spending programs and tax breaks. Well, it's time to get off this merry-go-round.
There are 21 committees and 104 subcommittees in the House of Representatives; the Senate has 20 committees and 78 subcommittees. If you wonder why government has gotten so big, start by looking at the number of committees and subcommittees in Congress. I guess 435 Representatives and 100 Senators need something to put on their resumes, but legislative activism and economic tinkering begin when decision making becomes so dispersed and disjointed.
We don't need activism and tinkering. We need legislators who can lead, know how to craft straightforward solutions that allow individuals and businesses to grow, and then let go – allowing our dynamic economy and society to succeed on its merits.
There hasn't been a major overhaul of the committee system since 1946, so now is the time. In my website page "Structure for a Smaller Federal Government", I propose that the executive branch reduce the number of cabinet level departments to seven: State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Commerce. For balance, the House and Senate should reduce its committees to seven (one for each department) with three additional committees that span functions: Budget, Intelligence, and Congressional Operations.
Under my proposal House committees can have 20 members and subcommittees can vary in size, but a House member can be on only one committee or subcommittee – there's no double dipping, but that affords every member the chance to become an expert in one area. Senate committees can have 10 members and Senators can also serve on one subcommittee. If a member has a good idea, any member can enter legislation in a committee's "hopper" for its consideration and action.
So let's downsize Congress, starting at the committee level. Perhaps they could form a special committee to look into it.