It seems that we have arrived at a new stage in the evolution of the Congressional naming of federal acts with the advent of new, more polemical titles to inspire and entertain the political base and annoy the political opposition. Perhaps there ought to be some transparency standards adopted in the naming of the proposed bills presented to Congress. Sort of like the truth in advertising so those legislators who do not read the bills they vote on can get a reasonably objective idea of what they are voting on. It seems that the naming of this bill was designed to convey a message to the tea party crowd of new legislators as to why they should vote in favor of this bill.
Historically there have been a variety of different methods behind the naming of bills. Some bills are named for their authors or sponsors like the Lanham Act which was named after Fritz G. Lanham of Texas. The Hart Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 like many is known under Hart Scott Rodino (Sen. Phillip A. Hart, Sen. Hugh D. Scott and Rep. Peter W. Rodino) more than the Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. Presumably this is because the sponsors are proud of the accomplishment. This was back in the day of bi-partisan law making. The same was true as late as 2002 with the passage of Sarbanes -Oxley after Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Rep. Michael Oxley. The bills actually had separate names in the Senate (Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act) and in the house (Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act) Sarbanes-Oxley or just “SOX” for short must have been the compromise in joint conference committee.
The names of some bills based on the first letters in the words of the title of the Act just roll of the tongue like Spanish or Italian because of the vowel at the end. There is ICWA (Indian Children Welfare Act) and EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act). Even with the vowel some of these acts are awkwardly named like the NMBTA(The National Migratory Bird Treaty Act) or PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Some sound dangerous like COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985). These “latinized” names while not particularly enlightening enlightening themselves do represent formal names for the bills that do fairly accurately reflect their content, even if there is disagreement as to effectiveness.
With the advent of the USA Patriot Act we seem to have moved into a new sphere of naming a bill that can warm congressional cockles without understanding what is in the bill. Perhaps we should develop a new independent agency that would review all bills for their content and objective and rename them where appropriate. If so, perhaps we might someday find a bill that would be named The Demagogic, Self-Promotional, Wheel Spinning, Repeal of the Job-Killing Health Care Reform Act or DSWSRJKHCRA. They may be getting to sound more Eastern European than Italian.