Jon Henke has an interesting post up on long term solutions to the current budget crisis.
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by John Cole| 54 Comments
This post is in: Domestic Politics, Politics
Jon Henke has an interesting post up on long term solutions to the current budget crisis.
Comments are closed.
More than interesting, some of it is very good (transparency), some not as much (price mechanism, ie: flat tax).
The best part is the transparency. I love it. Making the text for spending bill available to the public a week before the vote is huge, as well as the requirement for a vote on each earmark. If they were forced to do that, not only would those disappear as a matter of accountability, but as a simple matter of convenience/getting the thing out the door.
Some in the comments there wanted even longer public review, but there is no way that would ever work. Even asking seven days will be a near impossibility. As it is right now, members of Congress themselves often have to vote without reading it first. It is commonplace for the leadership to produce one copy of legislation (often inches thick with pages), keep it in the chamber where everyone’s staff will be forced to share it, and introduce it so late in the game that no one gets a chance to even have aides pore through it.
Then they vote in the middle of the night and hold that vote open ’til the vote goes the way they want. They pulled this stunt again just last week.
If this process can be exposed for the bullshit that it is and made transparent and accountable, it will be the biggest step all by itself. No more posing and preening for your constituents about what you brought home for the district without having to answer for what you sent to Alaska (or wherever).
As for the rest of the suggestions all valid, but I’m not going to favor a flat or consumption tax over a progressive income tax that targets unearned income over earned payroll income—I am after all a liberal. Just more on the tax side than the spend side.
I also think transparency is good. Perhaps we need to simply get rid of huge omnibus finance bills altogether: those huge bills, like the transportation bill, that are magnets for all sorts of pork. Instead, bills should just be on one subject.
I also agree that a flat tax is ridiculous, nor does the author make a case as to why we need a flat tax to help the budget process. People want a flat tax because if you are rich, you pay less in taxes. It has nothing to do with the budget.
I also quibble with automatic budget cuts in the face of deficit spending. Perhaps when we get to excessive deficit spending, like 4% of GDP, they should kick in. However, temporary deficit spending shouldn’t be punished, as there are reasons for it (if we get into a war, etc.)
Just vote to eliminate many goverment egentcys and put all those tax and spend liberal politicians on budgets and make them spend their own money espceialy ted kennedy
Goonie bird, you’re a moron. Unless the “egentcys” you plan on eliminating includes the Department of Defense, then killing the rest of the “egentcys” will be little more than a drop in the bucket, while crippling the economy. And I would rather have a “tax and spend” Democrat than a “spend and spend” Republican (although I’d rather have a third alternative); at least one of them knows how to do math.
The words “Republican” and “fiscal responsibility” have about as much relevance to each other as “crack whore” and “chastity.” Blaming the fiscal disaster being brought upon this country by Republican irresponsibility on programs that were previously affordable is a ridiculous defense. If they could be paid for in 1999 (with surpluses on top of it), why are they so unaffordable now?
The heart and soul of this mess lie in simple GOP politics. Federal entitlements are popular, and cutting them politically risky. So what better way to appeal to short-sighted voters than to tell them that they can not only keep their beloved entitlements, but they are not expected to have to pay for them as well? One big old free lunch brought to you by the friendly elephant in the red tie.
Of course, having these programs in place while fomenting tax cuts (along with the very expensive Bush family petroleum vanity war that is so controversial these days), can lead to certian shortfalls in revenue. And you can only sell so many bonds to America’s economic competitors.
Of course, now some in the GOP have come to believe that the near-exponential debt growth brought about by the fiscal insanity of our platinum card president and the GOP Porky Pig Congress is reason enough to cut federal entitlements, and that the American people will understand this and gladly play along.
Which to me looks like another nail in the GOP’s 2006 election coffin.
Which to me looks like another nail in the GOP’s 2006 election coffin.
Let’s hope so…
You guys are dreaming. Read the spending bills? Not even the legislators do that; they have staff for such things. The public is not going to read those stacks of paper. The media is not going to pore over them. And even if they did, a good deal of it is incomprehensible to any but the most devoted congnoscenti. But even if you overcame this obstacle, and forced the publication of a simplified, large-print edition of these things, you are more likely to end up with paralysis than anything else. You want to replace the wheeling and dealing in the halls of Congress with the blathering of Geraldo Rivera and Bill O’Reilly?
Sorry, the audience will prefer missing teenage girl stories.
Like everyone else, I like the transparency idea and the “seven days to review” idea. It seems good on its own merits to have a more transparent government, and as far as cutting spending goes, if nothing else it should slow the government down. Hard to call that bad.
But the idea of getting rid of riders, while it probably wouldn’t hurt, can’t be treated as a remedy to pork. Pork-barrel spending doesn’t happen because one or two dastardly Congresscritters sneaks a bridge for his district into a bill and everyone else signs off on it because, darn it, they just couldn’t sleep at night if they voted against a peanut farmer subsidy. It happens because a bill wouldn’t go over well in a Congressman’s district without some pork, so he refuses to vote for it unless he gets a bridge… and after he got his bridge, someone else decided they could threaten to not vote for it unless they got something… and so on.
That process would be inconvenienced if we amended the constitution to say “no riders,” but that’s all. Instead of Congressmen being able to say “I voted for the porky bill because the whole country needed the budget,” they would say “I voted for the bridge in Alaska because if I hadn’t, Congressman X wouldn’t have voted for our military base.”
The line-item veto has the same problem. A president would use it very little, in practical terms, because the threat to veto would get incorporated into the deal-making. If he wants his pet projects, he would have to agree not to veto someone else’s.
So, no riders? For the sake of simplicity and transparency, sure. But as far as getting rid of pork goes, it would still take a huge change to the political culture.
(And of course, all this assumes that peoples’ interest in the budget overrides interest in personality and cultural issues. And that both parties have some teeth. Single best pork-busting measure I can think of? President from one party, Congress controlled definitively but not overwhelmingly by the other.)
Anybody got a problem with that?
You’re right in essence with your commment ppGaz, obviously no one is going to wait with baited breath for the release of a Bill so they can read it on the toilet… but, if this was SOP, is it possible that, say, the NY Times (or somebody) might actually pay a couple writers to dissect these things into plain English and bullet points for general consumption? That would be a vluable service.
Even if it doesn’t eveolve into an effective brake system for bad legislation, it creates the clear record and paper trail that I still think is necessary.
Mr. Furious is right. No only would a “no riders” and “prior publication” policy be good for transparency, but it would prevent the whole mess of a politician having to vote for ridiculous pork in order to get body armor for the troops. This way, the public gets to see policy being made, and back-room deals will be harder. If it does nothing else besides moving back-room deals to the front room, that’s enough for me.
That’s very nice
No, actually, it isn’t. It’s very the-opposite-of-nice. Like ‘mean’ or ‘cruel’. ‘Nice’ would be, say, if the House GOP lawmakers recognized the horrible effects of increasing poverty and income inequality in the US–which was briefly brought into the public eye in the wake of Katrina–and apologized for their blindness, lack of compassion, greed, lack of basic human decency, and their reprehensible and complicit behavior in pushing an agenda designed to enrich themselves and empoverish a vastly greater amount of people–those who, sadly, need help the most. Then they could go on to repeal, say, the tax cuts on the top 1% or 2% of income earners in the United States, and increase funding for health care for the poor and food stamps.
Or, they could give me a pony. Not that I want a pony, just that that’s more likely than the above scenario. I guess they just aren’t very ‘nice’.
I think you are all missing the point – especially PB. Republicans base their policies on the proven moral/fiscal teachings of Jesus (unlike the athiest/communist Democrats). And Bush’s policies fall squarely within the teachings of Christ – screw the poor, soak the rich and kill all the nasty foreigners before they get you. I heard that in a sermon last week (Robertson or somebody…) On a side note I liked the article posted by John except for that little flat tax bit. Yeah, there are problems with all of the suggestions but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
1) Get a handle on health care costs by curbing pharmaceutical company tricks, as was done with tort.
2) Squeeze Corporate welfare and agribusiness.
3) End the war in Iraq,
4) Cut aid to Israel, and Egypt (whom we bribe to leave Israel alone).
5) Get tougher on Wall Street insider trading.
and dammit, develop alternative energy.
Well, it’s a debatable point, I agree. Faced with a self-serving Congress which — on both sides of the aisle — will clamber into the trough snouts first in an effort to buy themselves perpetual reelection and power …. restraint is certainly desirable.
On the other hand, we’ve seen … and will continue to see … the grotesque results of letting government become impotent, confused and chaotic in the face of a demand for services (FEMA, e.g.). So you can’t just let government itself get screwed because good government is needed by citizens. Roads, dams, airports, waterways …
There has to be a balance between unrestrained pork distribution, on the one hand, and damaged government and services on the other. How you get that … not sure.
That’s why I post here, instead of running for office :-)
Watching a Republican call for transparency is like watching a professional wrestling fan call for improved refereeing. It’s funny, in a sad way.
Ah, that’s in the “NEW New Testament”, right? Can you cite some chapter and verse examples for me please?
The only one I can remember is Ronnie 7:14 which states:
“If thou seest that the rich man receiveth the tax breaks, you shall not have the poor with you always”.
Hey Goonie, welcome to todays episode of BLUE’S CLUES!
In todays episode, we are going to explain how the Republicans are responsible for the pork in the current spending bill.
To learn more, click HERE.
If you would rather not, I think I hear your mommy calling you in for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Oooooh, yummy. Enjoy!
Rome, “Eural” must be placed on the DougJ Watch List until he/she proves that it’s not just another Doug persona.
A new handle and rightwing buffoonery usually points to DougJ, serial spoofer.
ppGaz, it didn’t matter to me if it was DougJ or not, I was just having a little fun. The only thing I like better than arguing politics is arguing religion.
I know, I’m a sick puppy!
Hey DougJ, if that’s you, I hear that the WH insider who flipped has had his name released, and it isn’t Ari Fleischer. Apparently, according to Raw Story, it’s John Hannah, Cheney’s aide.
I like transparency and individual votes on earmarks, not that such a policy has any hope of being adopted.
But the idea of ranking funding priorities for thousands of separate items is a not very well thought out. It’s easy to imagine combinations of items with lower priority giving a higher aggregate benefit, for the same cost, than just the highest priority n items.
Jeez guys – I’m not DougJ and I, too, was just having a little fun. Perhaps I should add sarcasm marks or something next time. (Although my biggest beef with the Republicans is their continual citation of Jesus in their policking while they demonstrate a complete lack of his teachings in their actual actions – you know “sanctity of life” for unborn fetuses while killing thousands through capital punishment,”pre-emptive” wars and undercutting health care/social programs.)
The sarcasm wasn’t in question Eural, at least from my perspective.
Or like watching Democrats lecture on fiscal responsibility. Baffling, man.
Personally, I’d much rather listen to a Republican lecture on fiscal responsibility, but that would be like listening to a cannibal give a lecture on humanitarianism after having written a book titled How to Serve Man.
Perhaps the meme is wrong. It’s not Republican or Democrat, it’s all of those in power. They say power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Personally, I’m a Democrat and I believe in fiscal responsibility. I like balanced budgets. I may believe in aiming spending that does occur in a different direction (I believe we should do our best to help the poor, but that doesn’t mean allowing them to live on perpetual welfare either), but I think we can both agree that spending on wasteful projects (such as bridges to nowhere) is ludicrous.
Then again, I’m not in power, nor would I ever want to be.
Honestly, I’m just happy to see some conservatives pushing for Congressional reform with respect to disclosure, transparency, etc. There’s no way to fix the legislative process without openness. The people in charge in Washington know this too. That’s why the Bush administration has taken steps to elminate the Presidential Records Act, Congress has limited oversight, and Congress has an insider system of rewriting bills.
While you fellows discuss the chair arrangements on the Titanic …
US News & World Report
Cheney Resignation Rumors Fly
I know Poppy Bush told Dick to take care of his boy. But take the fall?
Have we got all our partisan zingers in yet, or do I need to point out how the King of Pork fought valiantly to defeat the Line-item Veto? Is there some amount of schadenfreude that’s worth the hemorrhage of tax dollars you get when you avoid addressing the problem?
Sorry, you’ve got to take off those Repub-party tinged glasses.
Truth of it is, in the last 25 years, Republican administrations have shown fiscal irresponsibility to the thousandth degree, over and above Democrat administrations.
Huh? Tom DeLay fought the line item veto?
Oops. Bush’s approval falls to 42% in … TEXAS??!!
I don’t know have you gotten in all your partisan zingers yet? Do I need to point out that Bush hasn’t vetoed a single damn thing while in office, let alone a line-item veto?
As far as the hemorrhaging of tax dollars you get when avoiding the problem, you’d really need to ask the current administration.
They have elevated the practice to an art form.
Why, no. Do I need to point out to you that this is more of the same issue-avoidance that I referred to earlier?
My point being, given that the Democrats in Washington are of the tax-and-spend inclination, while conservatives are more inclined to spend-and-spend, why not consider some things to put the brakes on?
Or, you could go back to pie-throwing. Whatever blows up your skirt.
I’m all for putting the brakes on spending. However, if I had to choose between tax-and-spend and spend-and-spend, I’ll take the former. I’m not too keen on saddling my kids with a mountain of debt because I didn’t feel like paying extra taxes.
Regarding the pie-throwing, I believe you were the one that lobbed the first banana cream with your snarking.
Those who live in bakeries shouldn’t throw pies.
Transparency’s a nice thought, but it would only be a rational solution to the problem if pork happened because Congressmen’s constituents (a) disapproved of district spending, and (b) didn’t currently know about it. But neither is true! Congressmen vote for pork because it’s popular with the people in their district, and they publicize it while running for reelection for the same reason.
The problem is that district pork is generally good for the people in the district, but bad for taxpayers outside of the district. But only one of those two groups gets to vote for that district’s Representative. Lack of transparency isn’t what’s getting in the way.
Easy way to test this: in 1993 and 1994, Democrats held both the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. Let’s see how spending changed:
Year Spdg Change
1992 22.1 (baseline)
1993 21.4 -0.7
1994 21.0 -0.4
Your hypothesis is not supportable.
Actually, that’s not true. Typically, in fact, residents of districts abutting a district with significant pork also benefit from the largess.
Kimmit has you there – really. If you then add-in the Republican congress years, I believe the most you can say is NEVER have a Republican administration in office if you care about responsible spending.
Right. I pulled it from the same place you pulled your comment, Michael.
Let’s look a little deeper, shall we? The 104th-106th Congress had a Republican majority in both houses, and the trend continues. Was that an intentional omission, Michael?
1995 20.7 -0.3
1996 20.3 -0.4
1997 19.6 -0.7
1998 19.2 -0.6
1999 18.7 -0.5
2000 18.4 -0.3
2001 18.5 +0.1
Yes, those profligate Republicans. Bastards.
Actually, my first lob was a return volley to Kimmitt. But, whatever.
Well, it is looking as if we can’t give the keys to two branches of government to Republicans, isn’t it?
You’re being short-sighted. Sure, people love getting pork for their district, but they hate paying for other people’s pork. Given the current set-up, it’s easy for a politician to claim credit for the pork he brings in, while claiming that he didn’t support other people’s pork, but had to vote for it because it was part of a huge omnibus bill. If you make him vote seperately for each pork bill, then either he will have to stop making deals to get his pork, or he will have to defend why he voted for 38 other pork projects in order to get the 1 pork project for his district. A vigilant press and an even halfway-smart election opponent can take it from there.
So, in other words, it’s hopeless?
Correct. That was my error.
Heh heh. My thoughts exactly.
Well, you could always run…
Completely irrelevant. You made a claim that Democrats are tax-and-spend. That claim would imply that Democrats, if they had control of the Presidency and both Houses of Congress, would increase spending. This implication was not borne out. The fact that President Clinton was able to restrain what appears to be the Republican Party’s tendency toward runaway spending (based on what took place from 2001-2005, when the Republicans controlled one or both Houses and the Presidency) doesn’t change the ahistoricity of your claim.
No, it’s entirely relevant. You’re claiming spending as a fraction of GDP as an indicator; I’m simply pointing out that you can’t use that without considering things like the rate of change of GDP and trends in spending (such as Cold War drawdown, for one). I haven’t claimed that Democrats spend MORE than Republicans in general, just that they spend too much, and raise taxes to compensate. Republicans spend too much (or fail to cut back on spending) when in power and don’t raise (or even lower) taxes. Hence D=Tax and Spend; R=Spend and Spend.
Clinton restrained Congress? Show me. Show me how the spendthrift tendencies of the Republican Congress were reined in by Clinton. Avoiding time-travel is probably wise when doing so.
I think there are some conclusions to be drawn from this, but I don’t think yours are substantiated by the data. Certainly, as I noted above, it’s turned out to be a bad idea to have combined THIS Republican-dominated Congress with THIS Republican President, given that Bush only seems inclined to use his veto power when it might impede torturing prisoners.
So your thesis is that the Republican majority under Bush is somehow different from the Republican majority under Clinton, and that, further, Bush is not particularly representative of Republican policy, despite being the twice-nominated standardbearer of that policy.
Meanwhile, Democrats spend too much, because while their standardbearer was in office (and during the period in which they controlled both Houses of Congress), they decreased the size of the Federal Government.
I don’t find this thesis credible, or even particularly interesting.
Well, something’s different, Michael. Quite a lot of things, actually.
Bush is actually not very far to the right, so that doesn’t really serve to make your point very well.
Hogwash. Decreased the size of the federal government? Show me. Spending in constant dollars increased every year Clinton was in office, just as it has with pretty much every president in recent history. Clinton’s administration did see decreases in the DoD (which decrease was already beginning when he took office, and was in any case due to Cold War and post-GWI drawdown) and probably Welfare, which was due to a large degree to Republican commitment to do so. Assigning credit for these to Clinton is totally dishonest.
Obviously not interesting, because you keep reading what you think I’m saying, rather than what I’m saying. Nothing new there, though.
So there was a major leadership change in 2001 that I, and every other citizen of the United States, missed?
There are more people in the US every year! Each of those people is richer, so they have more transactions, more property to protect, and more expected payouts from Social Security! Of course the Federal Government is going to get bigger every year. The only sane question is whether or not it’s going to get bigger faster than the economy is going to grow.
TANF is a miniscule portion of the Federal budget; we could eliminate it without noticing. No, Clinton’s budget decreases came from both defense and non-defense items, even during the period of Democratic Congresses. You are completely wrong here.
Year Defs NDef
1993 -0.4 -0.3
1994 -0.3 -0.1
1995 -0.4 +0.1
1996 -0.2 -0.2
1997 -0.2 -0.5
1998 -0.2 -0.4
1999 -0.1 -0.4
2000 0.0 -0.3
Non-defense spending decreased under the Democratic Congress at approximately the same clip as it decreased under the Republican Congress (0.2% vs 0.216%). Indeed, the only increase came under the Republican Congress. And non-defense increases under the current Repblican President and Congress are huge. Why, it’s almost as though they were against government handouts when it was politically expedient to be such, then changed their tune when it became possible to buy votes, while the Democrats were fairly careful to keep spending and revenues in line.
In all honesty, I assumed you were being demagogic, rather than absurd. The idea that the government should stay the same size when there are more people in the country is just beyond silly.
If you’re not kidding, you’re too stupid to be on the Internet. I’m going with the kidding thing, then.
Interesting. And here I thought more and more people were falling under the poverty line. Again, Michael, you’re treating this like a single-variable problem, and if you’re seriously doing that…again, I have to conclude that you’re not serious.
Your own data shows that there is government shrinkage while the Republicans owned both houses. Again, I have to conclude that you’re pulling my leg. Isn’t your point that Republicans make the government grow?
Or perhaps there’s a third option that you’ve neglected to consider. As I’m pretty sure that you’re smarter than this, Michael, I’m again going with the joking thing. On the off chance that you are serious, I recommend going back and reading me again. If you don’t want to bother, fine; you haven’t taken the effort to date.
Look, if you take as an article of faith that Republican politicians share your policy priorities, then you can rework any statistics to fit that point. If you don’t, you don’t. You made an assertion which implied that Democrats, if given full rein, would increase the size of the Federal Government, and that implication was proven completely false by any sensible measure. All of this after-the-fact posturing about how the Republican Congress under Clinton was the True Republican Congress, while Clinton was the False Democrat — and the current Republican Congress is the False Republican Congress under the False Republican Bush is pretty much what I’ve come to expect from your side of the fence. Obfuscating posturing, complete indifference to the facts on the ground, and a righteous hatred (if carefully disguised behind a faux mask of independent world-weariness) of the Democratic Party combined into near-total uselessness of discussion. I get enough people who try to convert me to their religions on the internets, and most of them promise me something pleasant both before and after I die.
Your twin rhetorical tactics of using my first name and falsely tut-tutting over my failure to grasp your obvious points are excellent rhetorical tools, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from you. I could say that I wish that you’d use that rhetorical mastery in service of a less empty set of ideas, but that’d be just as false as your expressions of disappointment. What I really wish is that you’d stop thinking that your personal rhetorical ability substituted for actual argument with people who don’t already agree with you.
But it’s true, Kimmitt. True for Republicans, too. Two years of shrinkage (not real shrinkage, mind you, just a relative shrinkage) does not make for a template that you can apply for all time; less so even than the five or so years of shrinkage under a Republican Congress makes for a template that one can use to describe Republican behavior over all time.
Strawman alert. Where’d I say anything resembling this?
I had no idea you objected to that. I apologize, and will stop immediately. It didn’t even occur to me that might bother you, but I ought to have asked.
Well, you did fail. And you’re still failing; you’re assigning to me positions that I have not taken, and addressing those instead of what I’m actually saying.
And having said it a few times too many, I give up.