One of the more creative things that members of Congress get to do is name their bills. Sometimes the names are straight up boring — as in the “Reserve Retirement Deployment Credit Correction Act” — and thus make staying awake while reading them an achievement.
Other times though, congressmen come up with ridiculous names for their bills in order to create a catchy, easily remembered acronym. Think TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), GIVE (Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education), or the AWESOME Act (American Workers Endeavor Some Other Mindless Enterprise).
Okay, I made that last one up, but you get the idea. The acronyms not only help people remember the bills, but also — sometimes — helpfully explain what it’s supposed to do.
Here’s the rub: Not all bills do what their name implies. The name is sometimes given so that congressmen can shame those who vote against the bills.
What? You're seriously voting against the PUPPIES Act? You monster!
1. PATRIOT Act
If you don’t support this, you’re a terrorist. Or something.
But as we’ve seen with all the recent National Security Agency news, being a “patriot” means being spied on by the government. That’s exactly what Mel Gibson fought for in 1776, right?
This is for not spying on us enough!
As for acronyms, the USA PATRIOT Act stood for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. Who cares about conciseness.
2. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Otherwise known as Obamacare. During the debate that ended with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., throwing his hands up and saying “forget it, I’ll pass it anyway!” (not an actual quote), opponents of the law were told that if they opposed the bill, then they were for people dying of a lack of health insurance. The word they used was “care,” as if hospitals were just dying (so to speak) to turn people away.
But the bill isn’t affordable. Premiums are soaring in many states, and the law forces young, healthy Americans to spend money they don’t have to purchase a product they don’t need. That takes care of the “care” part, too, because you don’t “care” about someone by forcing them to buy something.
Note: The law is about “patient protection,” if by patient protection it means protecting them from access to health care. Because the law is actually causing doctors to consider leaving medicine altogether.
3. Farm bill
This measure is routinely ignored by most Americans, but not this year, when some in Congress actually tried to fix the behemoth. It is also a bill that gets renamed with whatever happens to be the trending topic of the day.
For instance, after the 9/11 attacks, the farm bill was named the “Farm Security Act” because at that time, who could vote against security? This year, it was named the “Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act,” because “jobs” is the word all the cool kids are using now.
"Security" is the Myspace of buzzwords now
The name of the bill was wrong on two levels: (1), it did not so much “reform” agriculture as make the process of subsidizing farmers worse and (2), what jobs was it supposed to create? More jobs for bureaucrats doling out subsidies?
Further, while it is commonly called the “farm” bill, until this year wholly 80 percent of it went toward food stamps.
4. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Also known as the “stimulus” bill. This one’s obvious. It was supposed to spur some great recovery but instead produced persistently high unemployment, stagnant wages and the worst recovery since World War II.
The bill was successful in its attempts to “reinvest,” except it wasn’t so much reinvesting as providing handouts to politically favored special interests that dried up quickly. But maybe that was too long to fit into the bill title.
The law did help one area of the economy: The green, metal, side-of-the-road sign makers.
When the stimulus bill first burst onto the scene (and of course by burst one means “sputtered,” as the funding trickled outsmidge by smidge), that familiar sign in the accompanying photo should have said “prepare to sit in traffic for the next two hours, courtesy of your government.” Try to say that without a wink and a sly “thumbs up.”
And don’t forget the lack of a strong recovery: Consistently high unemployment that is mainly decreasing because of people giving up looking for work and stagnant wages do not a strong economy make.
5. Marketplace Fairness Act
Well, at least it has to do with the marketplace. As for fairness? Not so much.
You may have heard this bill by its other name — the Internet sales tax. Because that’s what it actually does. Even the website for the bill says that it “grants states the authority to compel online and catalog retailers ... no matter where they are located, to collect sales tax at the time of a transaction.”
This is the deal that Amazon was originally against back in the day, but now that it’s a billion-dollar company, it has changed its tune. Now it supports an Internet sales tax because it was already opening warehouses in states and would be subject to the tax anyway, and this way it keeps any competitors from increasing their market share.
6. Violence Against Women Act
What? How can you possibly be against a bill that protects women from domestic violence? Exactly. This bill is the epitome of what this post is about.
Passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act was a show vote to further laws that already existed to make it look like Congress cared that much more. Because prior to 1994, it was totally fine to beat women (sarcasm). Women may have gotten the vote in 1920, but it wasn’t until 1994 that they could go to the polls without fear of being attacked.
In fact, the only reason this author doesn’t get hit in public is because of this law. Right? Right?
I would smack you with this present if it weren't for that damn act of Congress
The rate of violence against women was already declining prior to the law being enacted. But don’t expect to read that anywhere. Most studies only cite the years since VAWA was passed to give the impression it has made a significant difference.
In reality, many things lead to the decline, including improving women’s economic statuses and alternatives to staying with an abuser. But no, it was a piece of paper that stopped violent men in their tracks.
If the law was so vital to protecting women, why reauthorize it every few years? Try imagining a time when Congress would willingly give up such a juicy vote? Think in five years Congress will be saying “nah, we’re good”? Of course not.
And the bill doesn’t just protect women. It protects homosexual men and prisoners too. Because it’s totally not insulting to call them girls right?