Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Next Time

I’ve been giving the debt deal more thought, and I have decided there are three things that are still giving me angst. In fact, two of them frustrate me more and more each time I think of them.

Here are the three things we need to be working towards every time we get a chance:

  1. Zero-based budgeting. This is vital. We keep patting ourselves on the back, saying “Hey, we finally got some cuts out of Washington. Hooray for us!” Bullhockey. We reduced the trajectory of growth. Real cuts were minimal, and perhaps non-existent. We have to get back to zero-based budgeting and get rid of this idea of baseline budgeting. That’s the only way we can change the language of the debate and make a cut be an actual cut. I think we could have gotten this on this last debt deal and it’s infuriating to me that we didn’t even try. Until we get this, it’s hard to make the case that any progress towards shrinking government is real.
  2. Real matching cuts for debt limit increases. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-08) and others on the GOP side are trumpeting that we now have the Boehner rule on debt ceiling hikes: “In the future, no debt ceiling increase will occur without a matching level of cuts”. Big effing deal. First of all, see point one about “cuts”. Second, we gave President Barack Obama (D-USA) a debt ceiling hike that will last about 20 months. The “cuts” we got are over the next 10 years. If the timeline doesn’t match, the cuts don’t match. In the future, if we raise the debt ceiling for 20 months, then the matching cuts should come from the next 20 months as well. I’m willing to give a little on this, but it has to be close. It can’t be 20 months and 120 months, which is what we got this time. I know this one is going to be hard to achieve, which is why I’m willing to compromise, a little. But this needs to be a goal.
  3. Balanced budget amendment. Sure, everyone on the right is screaming about this, saying we didn’t push hard enough for it. I’ll add my voice to the chorus, but forgive me if it’s not a scream. This is a big deal, but as I said earlier in the week, it takes too long to help us turn the corner now, which is what we need to be doing. I’d rather work on 1 & 2 first, because they can have immediate impact.

Don’t mistake my frustration here as frustration with the GOP. Other than not working on #1, which I do think was a winnable issue, I don’t fault our GOP leadership. This is a war, and to win it, we need to start winning battles. Every battle should have some goals. These are the goals I want to start working on in the upcoming battles.

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