Friday, October 18, 2013

Fantasy Football + Congress = Compromise

The two hobbies taking up most of our free time these days are keeping up with 1) the political dysfunction in Washington and 2) our fantasy football teams.  

The confluence of the two sparked an idea.

What if we applied the best part fantasy football to help solve the gridlock and lack of compromise in Washington.  What if we held Fantasy Congress drafts? 

Sound ridiculous?  Well, at first glance it might be, but hear us out… 

There are many ways our Fantasy Congress drafts could be organized, but here’s our step by step instructions on how we would implement the Fantasy Congress drafts:

Step 1:  Legislation is written as it is today.  Any legislation that can gain sponsorship from a certain percentage of the members (say 5-10%?) is automatically put to the floor for debate and a vote – i.e. no Hastert Rule.  If it cannot be passed with a 66% supermajority, the bill enters the Fantasy Congress phase. 

Step 2:  The legislation is sent to its respective committee and that bipartisan committee is charged with identifying the contentious items in the legislation, and providing alternative views.  For example, in the Affordable Care Act, one of the contentious items was, and remains, the medical device tax.  Using this example, the committee might develop three alternatives:  1) keep it, 2) remove it, 3) modify as a tax on profits rather than revenue.

Step 3: The contentious items and their alternatives are provided to the members, who then caucus within their own parties to prioritize which issues it deems most important.  After a reasonable timeframe, the Fantasy Congress draft is scheduled, and television rights auctioned to the highest bidder – think Wednesday Night Fantasy Congress Draft, live on CBS! 

Step 4: Hold a Fantasy Congress draft to decide which alternatives make it into the final bill.  The draft will work with the following rules:

  1. The number of picks and the draft order is determined by chamber representation, with the majority party drafting first and all other parties drafting in order of representation until their picks are exhausted.  For example, let’s assume the Senate is made up of 60 Democrats, 30 Republicans and 10 independents.  If the Fantasy Congress draft had 10 issues, the Democrats get six picks, and first draft position, Republicans get three pick, and second draft position and Independents get one pick, and third draft position.  The order would therefore be: D, R, I, D, R, D, R, D, D, D. 
  2. Each party leader, in the order determined above, selects a single alternative to be included (or excluded if removing the clause is an alternative) in the final bill.  
Step 5: The final bill is drafted in committee according to the results of the draft.

Step 6: The final bill is sent back to the floor for an up or down vote.  A bill is passed with a straight majority vote.  If a vote fails, it’s back to the drawing board.    

With this process, everybody gets something they like and everyone is forced to live with something they dislike.  The majority party can’t steamroll the minority party (Obamacare) and a fringe minority can’t frustrate the majority with filibusters or irrational demands (debt ceiling).  This would maintain the representative democracy that we cherish while also serving as an efficient governing mechanism. 

Not as crazy as it sounds, is it?   


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