GOP presidential contender and former pizza executive Herman Cain roused conservative audience members yesterday at his appearance in Pella, Iowa. During his address for the Iowa Family Leader, Cain spent much of his time denouncing President Obama’s “failure of leadership,” and said the tipping point in his decision to run for president came when Obama signed legislation overhauling and reforming the health care system. Like fellow presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Cain seemed especially concerned with the length of the bill. After claiming that the administration had not read the bill, Cain promised the audience that as President, he would never sign pieces of legislation that are longer than three pages.
CAIN: Engage the people. Don’t try to pass a 2,700 page bill — and even they didn’t read it! You and I didn’t have time to read it. We’re too busy trying to live — send our kids to school. That’s why I am only going to allow small bills — three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table. What does Herman Cain, President Cain talking about in this particular bill?
Cain’s pledge received a raucous round of applause from the crowd, who didn’t seem to fully appreciate the implications of such a radical cut-off mark. The vast majority of substantive bills passed by Congress are longer than three pages. Under this bright-line rule, Cain wouldn’t have signed such landmark pieces of legislation as the Civil Rights Act, the Social Security Act, or the PATRIOT Act. In fact, he wouldn’t have even been able to sign the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which ran 114 and 18 pages, respectively.
As president, Cain wouldn’t be able to sign any of the always-lengthy appropriations bills that keep the government running and the military funded. In fact, pretty much the only legislation that could squeak by under Cain’s three-page cut-off would be the simplest bills naming post offices and the like. But perhaps that’s exactly what Cain wants — to completely shutdown government by refusing to take any action that requires a prolonged attention span.