Passing Bad Laws

A short guided tour-by a congressman-of the worst bills in Congress


Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is a hard-core fiscal conservative, famous for voting against his own party's bills and for his willingness to talk trash about his colleagues' legislative efforts. Citizens Against Government Waste calls him a "taxpayer superhero" for his cost-cutting, small-government attitude. In January Reason asked Flake to name the three worst bills oozing out of Congress.

1. The Farm Bill: "Both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill extend subsidies, distort markets, and hamper future free trade agreements, and the final bill is only likely to get worse in a conference committee. Sugar growers who didn't get what they wanted in the initial legislation are urging conferees to repeal portions of NAFTA."

2. The Omnibus Appropriations Bill: "Congress rolled 11 appropriations bills into one massive package and passed it in late December. House members had less than 24 hours to read the legislation before we voted on it. We're still finding out what's actually in the bill. But we do know it contained nearly 12,000 earmarks. That was reason enough to vote 'no.'"

3. Economic Stimulus Package: "Any time Republicans and Democrats can so easily agree on legislation as expensive as this, it's not a good sign. Rebates look to me like an admission by Congress that perhaps the federal government shouldn't have taken that money in the first place. Hopefully, Congress will keep this in mind as the Bush tax cuts get set to expire."