Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Debt Ceiling

I think when I was growing up, under the congressional administration of Tip O'Neil there was a legislative precedent that held far more weight than it does today. It was the notion that "what goes around comes around." I just figure they had all been there so long they understood that if you play games with the process when you are in one position that the other side will do the same thing or worse when the positions are reversed. I think this stood us in good stead for a long time keeping either side from straying too far from the middle or doing anything too crazy.

Lately this seems to be falling apart some. There seems to be far more filibustering in the Senate. Getting any Presidential appointments confirmed has become harder with each administration. And now we have the latest bout over using the national debt ceiling as a bludgeon to get through legislative ideas that wouldn't see the light of day otherwise.

I guess some of the ideas if crafted properly and without the threat of imminent danger might not be too bad. I can see how a reasonably constructed balanced budget initiative might have legs. But what I can't understand is how nobody seems to have the perspective to see how someday the tables might be reversed and instead of righties digging in and wanting their brand of fiscal responsibility instituted it could just as easily be lefties slinging some of their favorite ideas. Some of which have been occurring to me today.

How's this for some lefty leverage (when the tables are turned):

  • A cap on military expenditures of 150% of the next highest spending country. A quick Google search shows the US at $740 Billion and the next being China at $380 Billion. this idea would cap us then to $570 Billion or a cut in spending of $270 Billion. I'm sure I could find something to do with that (maybe put it in a rainy day fund for the next Righty war).
  • Or maybe fixing the budget of the NEA at 0.1% of the budget for defense. That'd be $700 Million. Last year's NEA budget was $170 Millionish. Spend as much as you like on the military, but for every $1000 you allocate you are allocating $1 for the arts.
  • What about National Single Payer Healthcare? OR ELSE!
  • Maybe a dollar for dollar tax on fossil fuels to be spent on renewable energy research. Or a dollar for dollar tax credit for anyone that installs wind or solar energy in their home or business.
  • How about a constitutional amendment forever guaranteeing a Woman's Right to Choose.
I bet if I put my mind to it I could think of many more. Why is it none of the players now can see that this kind of brinksmanship goes both ways? I understand that they're on the bottom now and that this gives them real leverage, but can't they forsee a time when they could be on the top?

I guess not.

PS: I don't know if any of those things are any better ideas than what we're getting now - I just know that they wouldn't be well received.

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