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Government United States News Politics

US House Limits Constituent Emails 581

Posted by kdawson
from the just-the-fax-ma'am dept.
Plechazunga passes along this note from The Hill: "The House is limiting e-mails from the public to prevent its websites from crashing due to the enormous amount of mail being submitted on the financial bailout bill. As a result, some constituents may get a 'try back at a later time' response if they use the House website to e-mail their lawmakers about the bill defeated in the House on Monday in a 205-228 vote."
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US House Limits Constituent Emails

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  • Yeah... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dwiget001 (1073738) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:51PM (#25209589)

    Please shut up, we do not want to hear from you on important matters.

    We know what's best, so just get over yourselves.

    Signed

    House of Representatives

  • by omega_dk (1090143) <alpha.dk@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @03:55PM (#25209657)
    I would like to take this chance to encourage everyone to support groups working towards open government, from Black Box Voting [slashdot.org] to Verified Voting [verifiedvoting.org], and everything in between.

    The government is supposed to work for us; until we limit how often lobbyists talk to them, what right do they have to limit how much we talk to them?
  • by megamerican (1073936) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:03PM (#25209783)

    Most of the Congressmen I've called within the past week have gone to voicemail, which is full of course.

  • by insane_membrane (1366135) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:04PM (#25209793)
    You mean fiscal conservative don't you?
  • by SupremoMan (912191) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:06PM (#25209825)
    I got a follow up phone call 8 months later. Dare I say I was stunned! I know it was 8 months later, and the person who called me worked for some vendor trying to clear the backlog of emails, but it's nice to know they didn't just delete it.
  • by ucblockhead (63650) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:12PM (#25209937) Homepage Journal

    I once sent my senator a letter that said, paraphrased:

    Dear Senator, I am very upset that you are considering $Foo. Please reconsider this position because of $bar.

    I got a response that said, paraphrased:

    Dear Constituent, Thank you for your letter. I thank you for your support in this time of troubles in which we must definitely do $Foo.

  • Yes, OK (Score:5, Informative)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:13PM (#25209955)

    A bank "going under" does not take all the depositors' money with it. If bankrupt, the bank is given time to reorganize and recover intact. If sold or taken over, assets, which include bank accounts, investments, and deposits, are sold to another company which will maintain the customers. There is also FDIC and other regulations in place to ensure you'll get your money back unless you did something stupid.

    The days of "sorry, no money, we're closed" are gone (unless we suffer a vast & total meltdown of our economy, which is still far off).

  • That fact escaped you, or are you going to be like the rest of the herd, ignore history as recent as last week, and pretend this was a Democratic proposal?

    Speaker Pelosi gave a rousing speech in favor of this monstrosity; President Bush did so, as well. Guess which party has clean hands in all of this?

  • by 3p1ph4ny (835701) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:23PM (#25210121) Homepage

    Not all of us do.

  • Most of the conservatives here are fiscal and civil liberty conservatives, not moral and social conservatives.

    In other words, they're Libertarians, not Republicans.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:32PM (#25210279) Homepage Journal

    isn't a bad deal

    other than the fact that they have no constitutional authority to do so...

  • From the other side (Score:5, Informative)

    by schwanerhill (135840) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:38PM (#25210371)

    I've been involved both in lobbying and in a Congressional (House) office (as an unpaid intern). Constituent contacts really do matter: a significant fraction of the staff's time is spent reading and distilling these letters for the Congress(wo)man. On this issue, the letters are nearly universally against the rescue package, which is the only reason Congress went against the opinions of the vast majority of economists (my favorite is Paul Krugman [nytimes.com]) to vote down this bill. If you think your voice doesn't matter to your Congressman, you're crazy, even though (s)he won't always agree.

    I know this is hard to believe, but direct bribes don't work. Organizing large numbers of constituents to call/email a Congressman does often work, largely because it demonstrates that you could also organize voters to challenge the Congressman at the ballot box. (That kind of organization takes money, so if anyone wants to consider that a bribe, fine; I consider it democracy.) However, an office will get tens or hundreds of copies of the same form letter from large numbers of constituents; those identical letters count less (though not hugely less) than personally written letters or phone calls.

    (As of 4 years ago, when I interned in DC, phone calls, emails, faxes, and snail-mail letters count equally, but snail-mail letters take multiple weeks to get to the DC office because of anthrax-related security. Letters from in-state but out-of-district are read but carry less weight than contacts from constituents and are unlikely to get a response; letters from out-of-state or without a name and mailing address go straight to the recycling bin.)

  • by ksheff (2406) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:44PM (#25210459) Homepage
    Have their fax machines run out of paper yet?
  • Re:Yeah... (Score:2, Informative)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @04:44PM (#25210469) Journal

    Show me where it says that they can't do it.

    That's the thing about the Constitution; it has a few rights that it explicitly guarantees, and it has a few rights that it specifically removes, and everything else it leaves alone.

    The legislature has the power to collect revenue (Article 1, Section 8, First sentence. Income tax is specifically dealt with in the 16th Amendment), and the legislature has the power to spend revenue (Article 1, Sections 7 and 8) "to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States", and that pretty much covers this situation in its entirety.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @05:22PM (#25210933)

    I'd settle for a regulation saying businesses may not enter into financial negotiations they do not, at that time, have sufficient verifiable assets to support.

    You might still take a hit if housing prices drop a few percent and lenders who made reasonable lending decisions find themselves stretched, but you would be unlikely to see the kind of major players failing that we have seen recently.

    Perhaps more to the point, you wouldn't get the sort of silly leveraging that has been going unchecked in the financial services industry for years, where no-one could really keep the promises they were making. That is how you get companies "too big to fail", which then need government intervention that is completely unjustifiable in a sane world, because while the mega-businesses deserve to fail and their investors deserve to lose out, the collateral damage to the innocent bystanders in the rest of the economy is nasty.

    There are all these clever analyses flying around about what went wrong and how to fix it, but it seems to me that the basic problem has simply been allowing businesses to make promises they cannot keep.

  • by NotBornYesterday (1093817) * on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @06:22PM (#25211577) Journal
    There was a big Congressional email meltdown several years ago, wasn't there? I think it was during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. Anyway, I heard that was because the MS email servers couldn't handle the load.
  • Re:OK? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jonbryce (703250) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @07:43PM (#25212401) Homepage

    They do. Usually they shut down the bank on Friday night, and you have the money in a new bank account on Monday morning.

    In the case of WaMu, they shut it down on Thursday night, and you had the money in a Chase account on Friday morning.

    In the case of Wachovia, it was shut down on Monday morning, and you got your new account with Citi that very same morning.

    In England, Bradford & Bingley was shut down on Sunday night, and the money was sitting in Abbey National ready to withdraw on Monday morning.

  • Re:Yeah... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bagsc (254194) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @07:47PM (#25212433) Journal

    A few clarifications for you:

    The monetary expansion that fueled the home-buying binge started in late 2001. Overnight rates went from 6.54% in 7/2000 down to .98% in 12/2003, and by 1/2002 it was down to 1.73%, and the biggest changes in interest rates were over. So that's a convenient place to base our estimates of the "normal" price.

    The historical real increase in housing value has been about 1.5% over the last century. The CSXR was at 123.93 in 1/2002. And the CSXR peaked at 226.29 in 6/2006. Since then, it has come down to 178.46 in 7/2008. So we're only down about 21%. CSXR is nominal, and using CPI-U to deflate it, we get a real increase of 17.4% in home prices using a real Case-Schiller variable over 6.5 years. This implies about another 7% real decrease left before the "normal" price is reached.

    Of course, that "normal" doesn't account for the financial panic, which dries up mortgage lending, depressing demand. Stopping the panic is a far bigger issue today - this is the heart attack caused by the lifestyle. You give lifestyle advice after the shock panels.

    While also correct that wages haven't gone up enough to justify housing values with historical home-to-income ratios, that is because medical insurance is a much larger component of compensation than it was a decade or two ago.

    Housing prices will probably bottom in less than 12 months, and we'll see people happy to buy again once it hits the bottom. But I doubt speculators will be in the housing market since few people will have the bankroll and credit rating to get attractive loan terms on multiple properties like in days of yore.

    Countrywide, Indymac and New Century are good examples to mortgage lenders of what will happen if you act like them. A couple new laws on mortgage exposure disclosure, and a lot of jail terms for fraudulent lenders and borrowers should keep the market realistic.

  • Re:Yes, OK (Score:3, Informative)

    by Krishnoid (984597) * on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @08:19PM (#25212739) Journal

    That's how they *make* money - a debt to us is a credit to the bank

    I had to watch this video [google.com] twice, but once I did, I understood a lot more about what the bank does or does not have to have in its vault to be able to make loans. Very educational (assuming it's true).

  • by electrictroy (912290) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @08:50PM (#25213053)

    >>>>Not that regulations helped this time around since they were neutered by the Republicans

    Actually it was just ONE democrat.

    In 1999 President Clinton signed into law regulations allowing traditional banks to invest in stock. He over-turned a rule that had stood ever since 1929's crash, and no surprise we're getting a repeat. Our great-grandparents in Congress passed that "banks cannot invest in stock" regulation for a reason (experience with bank failures), and President Clinton ignored that experience, figuring he knew better.

    At first everything was okay, but now the mortgage stocks are crashing, and banks are going with them.

    Other Democrats also deserve blame for passing laws allowing banks to give mortgages without any downpayment ("every person deserves a home even if they cannot afford it"), but that's a minor flaw we probably could have survived, if the original 1930s law requiring banks to have real money backed by real assets (no stocks) was still in effect. Thanks Bill. This is *another* fine mess you've gotten us into.

  • by HermDog (24570) on Tuesday September 30, 2008 @11:01PM (#25214137)

    Canada on the other hand has no business being a nice place to live. It's cold for much of the year, and in some places it's dark for almost half of it.

    I'm pretty sure, on average, it's dark half the time everywhere.

  • by upside (574799) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @05:22AM (#25216019) Journal

    Please, find out how laws are made [wikipedia.org].

    The president can only veto a bill, he/she does not make laws. A good president respects the democratic process and only vetoes a bill when there is extremely good reason to do so. It's only president Bush who has distorted the procedure with signing statements.

    It's sad when a foreigner has to point out how your political system works.

  • by illumin8 (148082) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:30AM (#25218399) Journal

    But do remember that everything that goes before Congress now does so with the approval of the Democrats, who have been in charge there for most of Bush's presidency.

    I want some of whatever it is that you're smoking. The Repubs have been in control of both houses from 1994 up to 2006. It was only in 2006 that the Dems got the slimmest of majority in congress, and even still it is not a veto proof majority so they can't really do much except go along with Bush... I wish they would stand up to him a little more.

    Note, by the way, that the author(s) of a Bill aren't nearly so important as the people who vote for it.

    I would say that when you have the author of one of the worst finance bills in the history of our country that also writes the economic policy for a potential future President, that is a big deal . These guys are crooks, liars, and have been giving special perks to their cronies for decades now. We're just starting to see the real downside emerge.

  • by joggle (594025) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:55AM (#25219927) Homepage Journal

    Theoretically yes. However, the president can also make signing statements that can dramatically effect how the law is interpreted and this president has used that power more than any other.

    The president also makes executive orders which can be quite powerful. Guam became a part of the US via an executive order for example.

    As for making laws, in modern history the initial budget proposals start in the executive wing and then are passed to their party's congressional leaders to revise before putting them to a vote. That's why we call the tax cuts 'Bush' tax cuts because they were proposed by his administration.

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