Playing fiscal chicken

The big discussion in the world of punditry today is whether Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution to keep funding the government, or whether budgetary authority will expire tonight, forcing a shutdown of “non-essential government functions.”

I’ve noted several times before that this annual dance shows just how disfunctional our government has become.   Passing an annual budget on time should be Job #1 for Congress.  Instead, we get year after year of sloppy half-measures and patchwork spending:

Far from being a new symptom of present-day Washington dysfunction, Congress’ chronic inability to follow its own appropriations process goes back decades. In fact, in the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997.

While the House passed a Continuing Resolution Thursday, there’s speculation the Democrats will torpedo a Senate concurrence over displeasure with not getting a DACA amnesty.  Fine.  If they want to burn the house down in a tantrum over not legalizing the presence of millions who came to this country illegally and uninvited, I say bring it on.

Then the President ought to permanently shut down all agencies that were deemed “non-essential” during the break in funding authorizations.  He can blame the opposition for highlighting again that much of what the Federal government does can be deemed “non-essential” when push comes to shove.  Having worked for Uncle Sam, I can verify there is indeed much nonessential nonsense the taxpayers fund year after year.  So let’s get rid of it.

If we’re going to play chicken with the budget every year, let’s play for keeps.

Advertisements

Where are the grown ups?

So the former FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress about his prior investigations and his dealings with President Trump (it’s still strange to type that).  Here’s how much of a circus this has become:

  1. The Director admitting leaking information to the NY Times via a friend
  2. The leak supposedly contained notes he wrote after meeting with Trump
  3. When asked for his notes, he claims he no longer has a copy
  4. Congress has to ask his friend for any copies he received

Really?  Really?  Either the former Director or the President (or, quite likely, both) is shading the truth considerably.  If it can be shown the Director broke rules on protecting information, or has perjured himself before Congress, there needs to be severe penalties.  Congress also needs to take Trump up on his offer to testify under oath.  And finally, it appears former Attorney General Lynch put more pressure on Comey than Trump ever did… something you likely won’t hear played up in the press.

Meanwhile, both Nancy Pelosi and John McCain are amply demonstrating in a bipartisan fashion how geriatric Congress has become (and how much we need term limits).

Any last vestiges of credibility our government may miraculously have seem to be vanishing right before our eyes.  At this point, maybe an EMP blast from North Korea would be an improvement.  At least then we wouldn’t have to listen to these idiots and their pageantry on radio or TV anymore.  And we’d all be too busy scratching out an existence to care about anything beyond the next town.

No more excuses

Less than a year and a half ago, the entire Republican membership of Congress voted to send a bill to President Obama that would have repealed Obamacare.

But that was just for consumption by the rubes back in their home districts.  Clearly, the president wasn’t about to agree to dismantling his namesake health care takeover plan.

That the Republican party isn’t truly serious about seeking smaller government should be apparent to everyone.  They control both houses of Congress, and work with a President who committed himself to getting rid of the misnamed “Affordable Care Act.”

So why won’t they send the same bill to the new occupant of the Oval Office?

Because they know he’d sign it.  Then they’re not just posturing for the constituents, they’re actually removing an ill-conceived government program riddled equally with incompetence and opportunities for political theft and graft.

This is why I stopped identifying as “Republican” close to a dozen years ago.

It’s time to call their bluff.  Everyone who believes the Supreme Court was insane to rule this health care law constitutional, everyone who wants to see health care costs fall instead of rise, everyone who believes the free market, not the bureaucrats best meets our individual needs, simply MUST contact their representatives and demand they resubmit the previous bill.

No more stalling while “a draft” is written.  There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

Paul Ryan – your membership in the Deep State is showing.  You best realize the election of Trump was a symptom of patience becoming exhausted.

Congress is acting in direct opposition to the mandate expressed in November’s election. So here’s the deal, Congress:

Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

A few modest suggestions

Life’s been busy lately, so posting has been light.  For some time, though, I’ve been working on a list of “things I’d do if I was completely in charge of adjusting the government.”  They center around limiting the influence of lobbyists, making immigration offenses a serious matter, and reducing the ability of a president to unilaterally commit the nation to war.

It’s an ongoing project.  But I’ll post it here for any comments and input on what’s already there.  Warning: it’s a lot of stuff (roughly 6 pages in a word processor).  But then, there’s a lot of stuff wrong with the country, so that’s to be expected.  Use the page numbers at the bottom of the post to advance to the next page.

Constructive input/critiques welcomed.

REFORM  (Federal Level)

General:

No person convicted of a felony will be eligible to hold elective office at the Federal Level.  Convicted felons may not serve in the Federal Civil Service above the grade of GS-5.

The Legislatures of each State will appoint one person to serve on a Federal Civil Service Oversight Board.  Board members will serve terms determined by their individual State.  This 50-member board will have power independent of Congress to investigate accusations of fraud, waste, abuse, or employee misconduct/failure to meet standards within the Federal workforce.  The board, by a 3/5 majority vote, may dismiss any federal employee below the grade of Cabinet Secretary.  The board will also investigate charges of retaliation against whistle-blowers.  With the concurrence of 3/5 of the board, anyone deemed as having engaged in retaliation will be dismissed from Civil Service.  No person dismissed by the Oversight Board will be eligible for any future Civil Service position or for elected office to Congress or the Presidency.

I approve this message

From Glenn Reynolds:

During the next four years, the Trump Administration — and Congress — should plan to move at least 25% of the federal workforce located in the Washington, D.C. metro area to other locations around the country: Places that are economically suffering (which will have the advantage of making federal workers’ salaries go farther) and that need the business. Should Trump get another four years, he should do it all over again.

That would mean that in 8 years, the population of bureaucrats in the Washington, D.C. metro area would be roughly halved. That would make Washington less vibrant, but more affordable — and those bureaucrats working out of offices in the hinterland would be brought closer to the American people.

This tracks with my thought that Congress should only be physically in session for three weeks out of the year, spending the rest of their time in their home districts among the people they allegedly represent.  Secure communication is mature enough to allow Congress’ various committees to work together ‘virtually,’ saving the really important matters for the limited three-week face-to-face meeting.  Of course, that would also mean prioritizing action in session.  There wouldn’t be time to investigate baseball or similar nonsense.

After all, a ‘congress’ is defined as a “formal meeting or series of meetings for discussion between delegates…”  Congress doesn’t “meet” anymore.  It resides in the alternative reality known as Mordor Washington, D.C., and its members occasionally go back to their fiefdoms districts to lie to their constituents face-to-face, rather than via the TV news.  The comparison, occurring more and more, of our capitol to “The Capitol” in The Hunger Games, noted by Glenn in his column, is an apt one (and the reason one of the Three Musketeers wears a “Down with the Capitol” t-shirt, complete with mockingjay logo.  I’m thinking of getting one in my size.  People can read into that what they want.)

https://i1.wp.com/cdn4.teehunter.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/down-with-the-capitol.jpg

Glenn has also suggested that since our leaders are constantly carping about carbon footprints, they should turn off all air conditioning in D.C.  Not only would that save energy, it would motivate people to be in that former literal swamp as short a time as possible, as it was in the early days of the Republic.

However it’s done, get the Congresscritters back home for close observation.  This also has the benefit of making lobbyists work harder, since they people they are trying to buy are no longer located all in one convenient location close to K Street.

Rotting from the head

Today’s USA Today editorial by the Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) is a must-read.  Excerpt:

“…people may obey the law because they think that being law-abiding is an important part of maintaining a viable society. But that’s the kind of law-abiding behavior that’s at risk when people at the top treat the law with unconcealed contempt.
Being law-abiding for its own sake is a traditional part of bourgeois culture, and our ruling class has lately treated the bourgeoisie with contempt as well. Which raises the risk that this contempt will be returned.”

 

These days, to be in contempt of Congress shouldn’t be considered a legal state so much as a badge of honor that one is in tune with reality.  Only Congress has the tools at its disposal to rein in these out of control government agencies like the IRS, TSA, EPA, etc.  For instance, agencies that suffer “accidental” deletions of key evidence should find their funding zeroed out and the agency abolished on the grounds it can no longer be trusted with public business.  That Congress refuses to use such tools merely shows they are no longer the “people’s house,” but rather, in the words of a very wise man, “a den of thieves.”

A no-brainer

This should be one of those proposals that enjoys broad bipartisan support among the citizenry:

Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) introduced legislation on Tuesday to prevent members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists after they leave office…

Kudos to the couple of Democrats who tried last year to introduce the same ban.  Wonder why ‘it never received legislative action?’ (that was sarcasm, by the way…)

Why is this needed?

Current law requires House members to wait at least a year after leaving office before becoming lobbyists. Former senators, meanwhile, must wait at least two years.

The Center for Responsive Politics found that more than half(!) of the former members of the 111th and 112th sessions of Congress who found new jobs had become either lobbying clients or joined lobbying firms.

Want to make Congress more responsive to the people?  Make sure it can only work for the people… not audition for lucrative post-congressional careers!  The revolving door between Washington, Wall Street and K-Street has to stop, if the average American is ever to have true representation again.

While we’re at it, how about we ban all campaign contributions from corporations?  If you can’t raise the money to campaign simply from the individual voters you would represent, then you obviously have no business pretending to represent them.

Time to shatter business as usual… light up the phone lines on Capitol Hill and tell them to make sure this proposal GETS legislative action — and passage — this time!