Could More Congressmen And Congresswomen Be A Good Thing?

Posted by | January 25, 2011 10:39 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Wait, wait, hear me out.  Dalton Conley and Jacqueline Stevens point out that when the Constitution was written (hey Tea Partiers — I’m alluding to the Founders), one representative in the House represented 60,000 people.  The last time the House expanded in 1913, a representative represented 200,000 people.  Now we have one representative for every 700,000 people.

This disparity increases the influence of lobbyists and special interests: the more constituents one has, the easier it is for money to outshine individual voices. And it means that representatives have a harder time connecting with the people back in their districts.

What’s needed, then, is a significant increase in the size of the House by expanding the number, and shrinking the size, of districts. Doing so would make campaigns cheaper, the political value of donations lower and the importance of local mobilizing much greater.

I can see three good things about expanding the House.  First, as the authors note, it would lead to better representation.  Second, more Reps means more oversight of the executive branch.  Finally, bloggers everywhere could rejoice as more members of Congress means more officials saying really silly things and more material for us.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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