Government Reform

Txting 2 Cut Gov't

The GOP launches a new site to allow citizens to vote on defunding pork

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Keen-eyed, youthful Republicans have noticed that kids these days love sending $10 to Haiti and voting on American Idol and sexting and stuff. So Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and a few of the other less aged fiscally conservative members of Congress recently hatched a scheme to get Americans to use their powerful texting thumbs to cut government. Launched today, YouCut lets all comers vote each week on which program Republicans will bring to the floor for a vote on whether or not it gets the axe. On Monday, they'll announce the winner/loser of the first vote and bring it to the floor sometime in the next couple of days. Cantor says they're going to repeat the experiment every week, too.

This week's mix is a nice assortment of WTF programs, such as:

Presidential Election Fund
$260 million in savings
This federal program provides matching funds to political candidates during Presidential primaries, certain third-party candidates, and funds for political conventions. In the 2008 presidential election, the candidates raised over $1.3 billion from individuals and PACs, do they really need to supplement that with taxpayer money? This proposal has been estimated to save $260 million over five years.

Want to kill it? Click here or text YOUCUT1 to 68398.

Plus some proposals for cuts that are a little more substantive:

New Non-Reformed Welfare Program
$2.5 billion in savings
The program was recently created to incentivize states to increase their welfare caseloads without requiring able-bodied adults to work, get job training, or otherwise prepare to move off of taxpayer assistance. Reforming the welfare program was one of the great achievements of the mid 1990s, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ending the cycle of dependency on welfare. This new program, created in 2009 is a backdoor way to undo those reforms. The program currently costs approximately $2.5 billion a year. (Also proposed as part of the RSC Sunset Caucus.)

Want to kill it? Click here or text YOUCUT4 to 68398.

This is a nice gambit in an election year where increasing numbers of voters say they are worried about the size of government. After all, it's not grandstanding if The People sent you to the floor to make a fuss about Democratic pet programs, right? There's no need to worry that Republicans will run out of dumb, unfair, or pointless programs to include on each week's list.

As it happens, the folks behind YouCut just happen to have a list handpicked by some of the House's more committed porkbusters. Three of the five proposals are already part of the Sunset Caucus—a B-Team of anti-pork Republicans formed last summer out of the fiscally conservative Republican Study Committee. Membership in the Sunset Caucus requires each member to pick a federal program and make it his personal mission to defund, sunset, or otherwise axe spending for that project.

Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) head up the caucus, and it's entertaining to imagine other members, like Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), or Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), bringing them little bits of dead federal programs to meetings as tributes, like cats bring dead mice to their owners. The guys and gals (hey Michelle Bachmann!) working on the YouCut project call themselves the House Economic Recovery Working Group, an ad hoc group which seems to have a lot of overlap with the Republican Study Committee and the Sunset Caucus, based on the proposals.

Assuming the site will continue to crib from Sunset Caucus pet projects, expect to see slice-and-dice options ranging from elimination of Amtrak subsidies to the repeal of Davis-Bacon to shearing farm subsidies for mohair. Other targets may include the International Fund for Ireland, Education Department Attache in Paris, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and everybody's favorite whaling cultural exchange program: the Educational, Cultural, Apprenticeship, and Exchange Programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts.

It also remains to be seen how seriously Republicans will take these votes. Cantor may actually give away the game a bit when he suggests in his intro video that House Republicans should use their floor time for YouCut proposals instead of "naming post offices." That suggests that the weekly votes on cuts could be little more than symbolic gestures most of the time; vague protests without much firepower behind them.

If Republicans take back the House this November—and many predict they will—this project is likely to fall by the wayside almost immediately. After all, if you're the party in power, you don't want to maintain a website devoted to skewering the party in power for failing to enact real change on spending issues. Still, in his intro video, Cantor cops to the fact that Republicans are to blame for much of the spending: "Washington has a spending problem, and both Democrats and Republicans bear some responsibility," a message which is in keeping with the Republican Study Committee's history as dissidents within their own party.

Pork can be a red herring, of course. (Cue images of pickled fish-pig hybrid…sorry about that.) No amount of trimming the fat will deal with the looming entitlement crisis. A true embrace of the participatory power of online and mobile technologies would involve giving people more input than gimmicky election year voting on a small slate of handpicked cuts. And polls of Tea Party protesters show that even committed government shrinkers don't respond well when you ask them to name specific programs they'd like to defund. But even if none of the proposed cuts actually pass, substituting post office naming B.S. for pork trimming B.S. is a change for the better.

Katherine Mangu-Ward is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

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  1. Don’t, you’d get spammed. I donated once to the GOP, and they. never. stopped. calling.

    1. No, you will not be spammed. Tatango (the text messaging service provider) does not insert ads into their messages and constantly regulates against spamming.

    2. No, you will not be spammed. Tatango (the text messaging service provider) does not insert ads into their messages and constantly regulates against spamming.

  2. An excelent idea!

  3. $2.5 (B)illion out of a $3.8 Trillion budget? Less than 1/10th of 1%? Well – Its a start anyway.

    Or we could ride a Time Machine back to the pre-Bushy-boy era of big Gov spending…… back to the socialist Clinton era of $2 trillion budgets.

    But… Clinton is a socialist and Bushy-boy is a capitalist!… (so the aborto-freaks say anyway)

    1. “Bushy-boy is a capitalist!… ”

      The lefties still keep claiming he was a free market capitalist too.

      1. What else would he call himself? Just because he didn’t manage to dismantle the system doesn’t make him a socialist. He did do enough damage as it is, however.

        No true Scotsman, i.e., no real capitalist could ever be corrupt!

        1. I’d call him a corporatist whose words gave a nod to free markets but whose actions did anything but.

  4. I was sent this email today about government regulation on the capital markets.

    “Will it bring more Enrons, AIGs, lead tainted toys, poison-laced baby formula, BP offshore oilrigs, or how about child sweat-shops?
    Like it or not there IS a place for government regulation.
    Do you have a job? Have you ever had an employer who would take advantage of you? Have you ever been ripped-off? Do you really think that the market will police itself? Greed is too powerful a drive to let run rampant. Those who say there should be no regulation may have a finger in their pie.”

    It reminds me of the wind defense christians use to prove God’s existence.

    1. Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me so.

      Who art thy Lord??

    2. mmm pie…

    3. God uses the universe as His proof

  5. How do I vote for cutting, say, the entire Dept of Housing and Urban Development, or Education, or eliminating Social Security?

    Or maybe even agriculture subsidies? Or ending handouts to Fannie and Freddie?

    1. Certainly not by pretending that Republicans or Tea Partiers actually care about shrinking government.

      1. And your better option for a glimmer or hope would be…….?

        1. Simple. Hold your breath until you get your way. No cheating!

        2. “Better” would imply that the GOP qualifies as a glimmer of hope at all.

          Divided government is a glimmer of not as hopeless, but that’s as good as it gets.

        3. Sweet sweet suicide is the only escape from this tainted orb for us poor bastards. Or armed resistance. Either way, we’re dead.

      2. They’re better than the Democrats, and that’s good enough. Politics is a process of evolution. You vote for whoever is going to be a little more reasonable about spending your money.

        When they win office, others notice, and think about going still further in that direction, to beat the first guys in the next election. And so on. There’s never any lack of ambitious politicians who will do whatever it takes to win office. All you need to do is dangle the carrot in front of their nose…and move it gradually towards your ultimate goal as they start running.

        Works like a charm — so long as you keep remembering to vote in the right direction.

        Your dismissal of the consequences of voting just because The Perfect Solution is never on the ballot is naive and defeatist.

    2. I wonder if we could get a whole mess of people to harass them to make the drug war one of the options. It’d be tragic AND funny to see them backpedal from that one. I mean, this is the Internet, so why not?

  6. Im in ur demokrasy, killin ur pork

  7. How about a 25% salary reduction for every year congress approves a budget deficit? And a 2% pay increase for each year they come up with a balanced budget. It sure as hell works in the real world.

    1. Did you know you’re last name is an adverb?

      … Hobbit

      1. Dammit, I know the difference between you’re and your.

        … Hobbit

        1. Sure you do. Now take your medicine, pat the dog and calm down honey.

      2. My mother called my name an adverb once.

        Once.

  8. What’s the text number for cutting the “defense” budget?

    1. That reminds me of something:

      The best defense is a good offense.

      Our current homeland “defense” strategy is parallel to a high school football coach’s game plan for the big friday game. It’s too bad that the away team in our “game” doesn’t like it when our players kill their families in the bleachers. Plus, they have a warped dogma to turn to when rationality creeps into their thoughts, just like how our team has blind faith in its innate virtues and unending gallantry, simply because their uniforms are red, white, and blue. Oh and this game never ends. We’re up to the 42,322th quarter(maybe we should start calling them periods at this point?) and counting.

      Judging by the reduced media coverage on this eventual 100 year game, most of the viewers have changed the channel and just assumed their boys brought home the trophy while impregnanting the those slutty cheerleaders.

    2. You’ll have to text “Overrun by Mexicans, Islamic fundamentalists, and Russians” to 911.

  9. Laws suck

  10. If Republicans take back the House this November?and many predict they will?this project is likely to fall by the wayside almost immediately. After all, if you’re the party in power, you don’t want to maintain a website devoted to skewering the party in power for failing to enact real change on spending issues.

    Pretty much came here to echo this.

    Of course they might just keep it, since they presumably get to name the choices you can vote for. That way they can vote to cut funding for some wasteful $10 million Dem-friendly project the same week that they enact their own wasteful $100 billion project.

  11. Cut SS, M/C, Def.

  12. & dflt on dbt

  13. And dflt on dbt

  14. all ur pork r belong to us

  15. Ok, Eric Cantor is going to be the guy who actually does what it takes to win. Ron Paul, you may have the right ideas, but you don’t play the game to win. My guess is that this is just a gimack and the Republicans like always will get encouraged by the leftists to go centrist in policy, because that is the only way to win. Don’t forget about John McCain and Gerald Ford, proof positive that cnetrism doesn’t win. And no, Nixon won simply because he didn’t have to face Kennedy again.

    1. I don’t think it’s online yet, but the article on how the Republicans have distanced themselves from Paul Ryan’s budget (in the print version this month) helped kill off any of the faith I’d had that Republicans would do something about spending.

  16. Has anybody that posts here ever read a book entitled, “Intellectual Morons”? It was recommended to me, and I wanted to get a few reviews before I bought a copy for my collection.

    Thanks

  17. Has anybody that posts here ever read a book entitled, “Intellectual Morons”? It was recommended to me, and I wanted to get a few reviews before I bought a copy for my collection.

    Thanks

  18. LOL – this program will survive about 30 seconds if we ever get the nice folks of the GOP in a position of handing out pork again. Not that I’d ever be sarcastic toward the fine folks that gave us Bush, Boehner and McConnell.

  19. Where do we vote to cut the Republican and Democratic Parties and their elected stooges from government? Oh yeah, in the voting booth.

  20. In democratic societies like the United States, the voting process is a means by which citizens hold their government accountable, conflicts are channeled into resolutions, and power transfers peacefully. Our system of representative government works only when honest ballots are not diluted by fraudulent ballots. When elections become corrupted, democracy becomes threatened.
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    The ballot includes one or more federal candidates;
    The crime involves an election official abusing his duties;
    The crime pertains to fraudulent voter registration;
    Voters are not U.S. citizens.
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    Last Name: TRUTH
    Address: AMERICA
    Address: INPEACH OBAMA
    City: USA
    State: usa THE END OF AMERICA
    NPR archive describes Obama as ‘Kenyan-born’
    Michelle say Barack born in Kenya
    Obama’s grandmother say he was born in Kenya
    Subject: OBAMA SAID approval ratings are still very high in the country of my birth.
    Message: INPEACH OBAMA TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT
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  21. And some people enjoy PCP a great deal. Ketamine is a whole different class of drug. She may well have enjoyed it much more, but I’d guess she wasn’t incredibly bright considering her tree climbing demise.

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