Keep an eye on Government: WashingtonWatch

WashingtonWatch is a site that breaks down the costs behind proposed U.S. federal legislation and regulation, and then asks your direct feedback in the form of comments and a simple yes/no poll. Since government tends to go crazy in an election year, this site is particularly important right now.

Take an example: Proposed legislation HR 4411 would prohibit businesses from accepting payments from gamblers who illegally bet over the Internet. Business that fail to comply would be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

The cost to taxpayers of this important legislation: $.02 per family. How do people feel about it? 76% of readers are against it, and one person commented “This is a violation of our rights. Call your senate rep and tell not to suppirt this bill. It goes way beyond just gambling online. They will have access to track everywhere you go on the net and ban you from where you can go!!!!!”

In addition to the poll and comments, the site has links to the bill as well as third party analysis, and related bills. WashintonWatch also has a RSS feed and site search, and a link to a government page where readers can write to their representative.

To see the really juicy stuff, see the greatest cost and greatest savings areas of the site.

I like WashingtonWatch because it translates Bills into understandable costs and allows direct and collaborative feedback before the Bill is voted on. These are new web ideas put to work in a tangible and useful form. I hope our elected representatives are among the readers.

Not surprisingly this is the creation of a libertarian – Jim Harper, who also works for the Cato Institute.