Gov’t Shutdown: Its Not Even Ideology, Its Just Politics

With respect to Senator Reid, he is not correct when he says, “The only thing holding up the agreement is ideology.” Ideology would have had the Republicans insisting on more budget cuts or would have had them demanding anti-abortion riders. But not both. And certainly not one after the next, just as agreements appear to be on the table. The pattern is clearly one of drawing lines in the sand arbitrarily, just to prevent a deal.

The Republicans – or perhaps certain Republicans who hold sway right now – must clearly believe that they can make a government shut down work for them politically. Otherwise, we’d have had a deal by now. Either they’re fools or they’re gamblers. Or their geniuses, I suppose that’s still possible. They are not negotiators.

Reid: Looks Like We’re Headed For A Government Shutdown | TPMDC.


Down With Earmarks!

Well, the Republicans and Tea Party Activists have laid down their marker for the next session, and it appears to be the abolishment of the much-balleyhooed earmarks from Federal legislation. Mitch McConnell, after first requesting a billion dollars in pork for his state, then opposing the “earmark reform” efforts, now seems to be bowing to the pressure and supporting it.

Only problem is: earmarks only define the way in which money gets spent when a budget gets passed. They don’t actually spend money nor create the expenditures. Its just a way of allowing Congressmen to accept a bill by assuring them that a little bit of that pork barrel spending – if such is the term your most comfortable using – gets “earmarked” for them and their district.

Oh, and the earmarks only represent about 11 billion dollars. Which sounds like a lot, unless you consider the fact that that 11 billion dollars represents less than ten percent of discretionary spending in the federal budget, which itself is about 38% of the total budget. Don’t get out your calculator, I’ll save you the trouble. They’re going to change Washington by adjusting the way 3 percent of the budget gets spent – without actually cutting it.

Supporters of the ban will say that three percent is a good chunk of money. And I agree. But Democrats learned a hard lesson in the last two years, which is that in a bad economy, the American people have very little patience or good-will for the incumbent party. Mitch McConnell may indeed have opposed the earmark reform on the basis of his own personal pork barrel spending. But as a veteran of Washington, he just as likely opposed it for what it is: a complete waste of time.