December 16, 2010

Fix it in the 112th

There's an old recording adage/joke. You ignore errors and move on, saying "we'll fix it in the mix." Kevin Mahogany did a funny song about it.

I suggest we try that in Congress, firmly putting myself in the Bill Kristol camp. Why not let the 111th pass this porkfest and split town? Then the 112th can come in and rescue us in January. HB 1, Kristol suggests, rescinds spending from the 2011 budget.

The WSJ Ed Page is pretty concerned about the omnibus:

The 111th Congress began with an $814 billion stimulus that blew out the federal balance sheet, so we suppose it's only fitting that the Members want to exit by passing a 1,924-page, $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill. The worst Congress in modern history is true to its essence to the bitter end.

Think of this as a political version of the final scene in "Animal House," when the boys from the Delta frat react to their expulsion by busting up the local town parade for the sheer mayhem of it. Bluto Blutarsky (John Belushi) did go on to be a U.S. Senator in the film, and a man of his vision must have earned a seat on Appropriations.

I suggest the GOP sit on their hands and let it go through. Beyond Kristol's (and Jennifer Rubin's) appreciation of opening the session with a huge spending cut, I suggest that the GOP will be hard pressed to show big cuts in two years. Considering a Democrat Senate and White House plus impure appropriators on Team Red, there is a danger of 2012 ads saying that the Republicans did not trim much. Why not start from a high baseline?

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at December 16, 2010 3:06 PM

As they say in biz-speak, "That's a non-starter." To repeal the spending bill, it would need legislation to not only survive a Senate cloture vote, but then get Democratic Senators to cross party lines. Assuming all that happened, it would required the preznit's signature. Fat chance. Republicans might try to take the moral high ground on the issue, but only if they're heard over the Democratic demogoguery. Getting demogogued for trying to make cuts without actually getting the cuts is a lose-lose. Meanwhile, former 111th Congressmen continue to speak from the political grave.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 16, 2010 3:39 PM

I'm with BR on this, for two reasons. First, undoing something that has already passed is a lot harder than simply not passing it the first time - and I offer ObamaCare as Exhibit A. Second, the high baseline theory may create a veneer of looking like cost-cutters, but in the retail trade, they call it "marking up to mark down" - resetting the price of the $400 sound system to $600 and then making it part of the 20% Off Sale.

What the country needs is not a pretense of cost-cutting in order to get Team Red re-elected next go-round, but real cost-cutting to pull us back from bankruptcy.

I like to think we didn't elect these people to compromise and make nice; we elected them to apply the brakes.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 16, 2010 3:58 PM

But the House keeps the power of the purse.

Fred Barnes describes sending a spending cut bill every week to the Senate. If the GOP was the Party of No, they will have to be the Party of Party On.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2010 4:00 PM

Rough Room, Rourge!

I don't want a gimmick, but I do not mind an honest accounting of the 111th's spending.

I'll agree that if the omnibus can be stopped before birth, all the better. But I am not at all convinced it can. All the obstacles you mention, plus Speaker Pelosi's gavel, Bennett, Blunt, and Voinovich in the Senate. How do you get a vote on a continuing resolution?

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2010 4:37 PM

Harry Reid would be happy to remind the American people on a weekly basis how Republicans want to starve school children and kick Grandma to the curb without her meds. And each bill would still have to pass the Senate and get signed by the president. Anyone really think that's going to happen 52 times in 2011?

In this political climate, you get one whack at cutting spending, not 52. Better make the first one count.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 16, 2010 4:44 PM

... and if there's no continuing resolution, then the government has no spending authority, the checking account is empty, and the government shuts down.

I'm not seeing a downside here.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 16, 2010 4:45 PM

If Republicans block the omnibus and call it a "2000 page, trillion dollar abomination in the dead of night," it will ring of all that people hated about the healthcare bill and the 111th. If we can get the dead duck, er, lame duck RINOs to hold ranks one more time, then Harry and Nancy will have no choice but a continuing resolution.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 16, 2010 4:52 PM

@ka: Ask President Gingrich.

@br: One is reminded of the Republicans in the 85th who kept sending President Cleveland bills to give $25 to Civil War widows. He repeatedly vetoed them and seemed to pay no price (ahh, Nineteenth Century liberty...) I think Chairman Ryan -- likin' the sound of that -- could yank a dozen of these porcine earmarks into a weekly cut that would be difficult to oppose.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2010 4:55 PM

Although 52 bills highlighting aggregious earmarks would be entertaining, it would be symbolic, at best. Even if all earmarks are repealed, we're talking just north of $8 billion. Not chump change and worth attacking, but insignificant in a $1.1 trillion budget. We need real reductions, not symbolism.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 16, 2010 6:08 PM

How about $200 billion in cuts the first week, as a down payment, and then $8 billion a week for 52 weeks? I figure if you put Energy, Education, HUD and a half-dozen other agencies into the chipper-shredder, followed it with the ethanol subsidy as a chaser, and then just kept going through the org chart with a chainsaw, we could probably have a balanced budget by next October or so.

That wouldn't be merely symbolic.

By the way, I nearly forgot that today is the 237th anniversary of an obscure act of anti-regulatory civil disobedience. Happy anniversary, everyone...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 16, 2010 6:53 PM

Yup -- happy Tea Party Day, everyone. Raise a toast to Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Roger Ailes tonight for making it all possible!

I think you've got me, br. If the omnibus dies, I'll be 100% contented. If it lives, I suggest we view its r3ecision as a challenge.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2010 7:20 PM

Br wins! Insty points out we pulled a billion out of Obamacare.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2010 10:28 PM | What do you think? [12]