Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Regime change: Delegation run riot
I'm off to Argentina this afternoon, so I won't be posting for the next two weeks. (No great loss.) But I do want to offer one final comment on the Grand Bargain that was just inflicted on it. Put to one side that it represents, as Joe Nocera aptly argues in today's NYTimes, the submission basically to terrorist threats by a remarkably feckless President. And put to one side that it almost guarantees the worsening of the American (and therefore the world) economy, though it may brighten the prospects of a Republican victory over the feckless President, apparently the only thing that Mitch McConnell is really committed to as he winds up his long and decidedly non-illustrious career in the Senate.
I cannot get all that upset about Congress delegating responsibility to draft a budget to the new "Gang of 12" committee as opposed to its usual practice of going through the appropriations and budget committees. Indeed, the fact that this committee is split evenly between the parties lessens the chance of secret game playing in a majority party run committee.
What is being left unsaid is that every out-year budget recommendation by the new committee will be enhanced or reversed by a future Congress. Indeed, the FY 2012 budget to be enacted next month will likely change the cuts in this bill starting this October.
Thus, the only parts of the current debt ceiling bill that matter are the added debt and any immediate cuts in spending. All the rest is a kabuki dance.
Well, Sandy, in no particular order:
-- The sins of the past don't condone the sins of today, although they may inform them. Bad behavior is bad behavior.
-- A concern over debt that was silent during the Shrub years is no concern over debt, of course; more likely an excuse to starve the beast.
-- Yes, it does seem that an extra-Constitutional gang of 12 is a real and present danger. But it's not as if the legal and elected representatives can solve problems.
-- Ever notice that most opinions on the subject can't even use "debt" versus "deficit" correctly? Likewise conflate debt with spending. It's great to have opinions!
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Suppose the Gang of Twelve deadlocks 6-6, a definite possibility given the statements by Pelosi and McConnell?
The next logical step would be to delegate the entire mess to a Debt Czar who would have absolute power to dictate spending & tax policy.
Given that the legislative branch of the Federal Government now enjoys a 14% approval rating, this just might be a popular move.
Given that Congress has already essentially abdicated its most important responsibility -- deciding whether or not the country goes to war -- it's only a matter of time before all the rest of its responsibilities get fobbed off on the executive branch. Congress critters are deathly afraid of just one thing -- being blamed -- and there's no way to avoid being b lamed if you actually, you know, vote for or against things.
It does seem to resemble the 1860s and 70s when the Radical Republicans were trying to make sure that the traitorous south be held accountable for its actions and there was a president in the White House who went along with the traitors against the best interests of the country.
And how fitting the Compromise of 1877 settled an election that was based on coercion in the south where the return boards held the power of counting the votes and refused to do anything unless the black union soldiers were removed from their states so that the former confederates could govern as they pleased without interference.
By allowing the traitors to get their own way back then, and by allowing their descendants to arrogantly refuse to acknowledge the authority of the court during the Second Reconstruction through massive resistance, we signaled to the rebel element that they'll get whatever they want if they just hold their breath long enough or if they throw enough tantrums, like the Brooks Brothers riot in Miami in 2000.
A thorough housecleaning is in order but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime.
Off Topic: But would like to know if Mr. Levinson is involved with, or would like to comment on, http://www.conconcon.org/
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