Congress is set up to pass laws. They’re not set up to remove old laws. Because of this, the U.S. Code has become a bloated mess that only benefits those looking to exploit loopholes or avoid responsibility by pointing at the letter of the law.
While it’s important to take the time to revise the U.S.C., we should also proactively stop it from becoming a mess again in the future.
All laws passed should have their success metrics (in business, we call these Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs) defined and included. There should also be a sunset period defined—a time during which, barring Congressional action, the law will be removed from the books.
After the defined period, a Congressional committee could hear testimony about how the law has met its KPIs and, if it’s still relevant and has achieved its goals, can decide to reenact it for another period of time. If it is no longer relevant, or if it has failed to achieve its defined goals, it should cease to be law.
We have a thicket of old laws that may have made sense when they were passed, but now have given rise to special interests that live off of them. Getting rid of laws is extremely tough—we have to make it easier by having a term and evaluation. This would empower Congress to re-evaluate laws periodically and channel resources more effectively. We live in the present and future, not the past, and we should govern accordingly.
Problems to be Solved
- Congress has incentives to pass laws but not remove them, resulting in a bloated collection of laws.
- Some of these laws are actively harmful - they not only failed to achieve their goals, but they create more problems than they solve. However, there is always someone who benefited from it and will lobby for it to stay. Now, the default is that it sticks around without action; that should change.
- Prevent U.S. law from becoming unwieldy
- Automatically sunset harmful, useless, or underperforming laws
As President, I will…
- Veto any bill that includes spending that doesn’t include an automatic sunset period and a clearly defined set of goals, with measurable performance indicators.
- Push for a Constitutional Amendment calling for an automatic sunset period for laws as they’re enacted, which will remove those laws barring Congressional evaluation and renewal.