Economics

Contract with America 0.5

The GOP should resurrect a few ideas from 1994

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The first step in any recovery is accepting that you can't control your addictions. So though Republicans may stumble back into power, they should admit that they, like Democrats, probably can't be trusted to control themselves.

That's why it's nice to hear that four Senate Republicans—Jim DeMint, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Tom Coburn—are moving forward with a balanced budget amendment that would require the federal government to spend no more than it takes in.

Election year posturing? Sure. But it can only help renew the call for more embedded self-control in Washington.

Spurred by curiosity, in fact, I recently revisited the Contract with America, and there are plenty of solid ideas in there—albeit some in need of minor tweaking.

It makes no sense, for instance, for a balanced budget amendment to require government "to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses."

That's what got us into this mess. Government already operates under our budget constraints. If the average family didn't take on debt, how on earth could it afford those Volts, sprawling lawns, and sweet plasma TVs? The economy would shut down if we started balancing our budgets.

You don't want government acting like me. You need it to be accountable. The amendment should read: "Government should not, under any circumstance, live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses, because with a $3 trillion budget, it doesn't have to."

The amendment also would require a supermajority vote—two-thirds of both houses—to pass a tax hike. This seems a bit onerous, considering it takes a similar effort to declare war. America also would be hypnotized by how quickly taxes would turn into fees. So what about a 5 percent cap (plus inflation) on yearly spending increases? Anything above that level—let's call it emergency spending—would need a two-thirds majority vote.

There are other concepts worth revisiting from the original Contract with America.

Though I vigorously oppose the idea of term limits—they limit my freedom to make mistakes more than once—creating term limits for committee chairmen is a fantastic idea. Does anyone need a better example than Charles Rangel to understand how corruptive the power of the gavel can be?

And why not resurrect the idea of hiring a "major, independent auditing firm" to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress (and the Fed) for waste, fraud, and abuse? This would offer us a dispassionate cataloging of the mess—not to mention create or save thousands of accounting jobs.

Most of all, one hopes that Republicans are laying genuine groundwork for a federal balanced budget amendment, which has failed by agonizingly slender margins on a number of occasions.

After decades of grousing from alternating parties about reckless spending, here's a chance to constrain Washington, whether it wants to be constrained or not.

Up to this point, most of the opposition to the proposal has been based on one argument: Republicans are a bunch of silly hypocrites for failing to pass this when they were in charge of both houses and the presidency—and, need it be reiterated, were busy creating their own debt.

Which, of course, is only another strong argument to support the amendment.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 THE DENVER POST
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  1. New at Reason: David Harsanyi on the Need for a Revamped Contract with America

    Another one? What, so that it ends up coming very short, like the last one?

    are moving forward with a balanced budget amendment that would require the federal government to spend no more than it takes in.

    Great – and paired with the 16th, it will be a real economy killer.

    “Honey, we’re simply not taking enough money to balance the budget – you will have to get a second job!”

    “Uh, darling, why not simply lower the spending to match what we take in?”

    “Sweethear, you *know* I love you, but the idea is to balance the budget, not reduce it!”

    1. Threadjack:
      Former U.S. congressman Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois, died today at his home in Wisconsin at the age of 82.

      Unrelated:
      Man wearing a long black burqa, blue jeans, and tan boots robbed a bank in Silver Spring, MD today.

      1. Surely that’s a violation of some fashion law.

        1. +1

          From what I recall, Rostenkowski was a walking fashion nightmare.

      2. First Ted Stevens, now Rostenkowski. Here’s hoping these things do indeed come in threes, and please let the third one be Nancy Pelosi.

        1. Apparently, she’ll have to lose her re-election campaign first.

          1. Also, I think the only way to kill Nancy Pelosi is with a stake through the heart.

            1. Nuke her from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

              1. Why not an exploding gavel? Funny and nefarious!

                1. You could fit a nuclear bomb in that gavel she used for the health care bill.

                  1. That isn’t all she uses it for.

              1. here, kill her with this

          2. They do come in threes – Bob Byrd

            1. I believe there is a statute of limitations on the “it comes in threes” clich?. Byrd missed it by weeks. Still rooting for Pelosi.

              1. Right there with ya.

                1. Nancy! Nancy! Nancy!

  2. Congress passed that PayGo bill. I assume it was signed into law, although I don’t know; in any event, they’ve routinely ignored it every time Congress wants to do something like extend unemployment benefits or carry out some other desirable spending plan.

    1. I think the most recent paygo was watered down. Thus all the exceptions.

  3. I can just see the Supreme Court saying a U.S. Constitutional balanced budget amendment is unconsitutional.

  4. The balanced budget amendment would need to be for future spending as well, AND include entilements.

    If it did that, I’m in.

  5. believing Repubs will cut spending is as naive as thinking Dems will roll back the war on terrah

    1. I think the key is to get them to commit in writing before hand.

      1. Re: Kroneborge,

        I think the key is to get them to commit in writing before hand.

        You mean, like the last time?

        Also, isn’t the Constitution an ex ante written document? They sure hold themselves to that one – then again, it’s just the measly Law of the Land… pshaw!

        1. They did a reasonably good job with the first contract of America.

  6. Honest men do not run for Congress; therein lies the root of the problem.

    1. Thank you. This entire discussion is akin to offering slaves the opportunity to choose the color their chains. I have an idea for a balanced budget: no taxes, no spending.

    2. No, they do. Only they get slaughtered in the primaries as inexperienced and not in favor with the establishment running the party, or they show up in the Libertarian Party and are totally marginalized.

    3. Right you are.

  7. Gridlock is our only hope.

    1. Gridlock is our only hope.

      …or a Zombie Plague.

  8. Lindsay Graham???
    That big spending Bush style Republican will sabotage this effort with so many exceptions that it will be meaningless.

    He is on record that the “Tea Party is not sustainable” and that it will fade away. Then it will be back to politics as usual.

    1. Yeah, it’s an odd team isn’t it? 2 Squishes – McCain and Graham – plus 2 Firebrands – Coburn and DeMint.

      I suppose it’s good from a political perspective – two to appeal to the NYT-WaPo Axis of self-described ‘moderates’ and two to appeal to the Right.

    2. Lindsay was big on Cap and Crap! He is a loser.

  9. I think a new Contract with America is a good idea, provided that it has a liquidated damages provision.

    By the way, I don’t get opposition to term limits. We know that near lifetime tenure is occurring and that it is one of the many reasons that limits on government are falling away. Yes, it’s anti-democratic to impose term limits, but term limits serve as an additional check on government power. A good thing, if you ask me.

    1. We tried tern limits in CA, it just made things worse.

      1. It was too late for California. Nothing can help it now.

        1. Then California is truly dead.

          1. I thought I felt good in California once, but it was just heartburn.

        2. It’s time for Triage, people. What do you reckon the going rate for San Fran is?

      2. Goddamn terns. If seagulls are good enough for the rest of the country they should be good enough for California!

  10. The first step in any recovery is accepting that you can’t control your addictions.

    So why bother trying? Anyway, that particular 12-step commandment is as bogus as the one that tells you to put your faith in a higher power. The United States needs politicians with integrity and self-control, not former drug addicts-turned-counselors.

    1. “The United States needs politicians with integrity and self-control, not former drug addicts-turned-counselors dealers.”

  11. They did a reasonably good job with the first contract of America.

    HAHAHAHAHA! I love your sense of humor.

    * wipes tears of laughter from eyes *

    Oh, wait, you were serious.

    The Rs did a good job of * writing * the Contract. Following it — not so much so, especially during the Naughties when they had control of Congress and the White House.

    1. I think the proper saying is that they are pissing on your leg and telling you its raining.

    2. Go back and read it. They did enact most of what it said.

    3. Actually, they did exactly as promised:

      Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.

      Getting the bills passed by the Senate (and in a couple of cases the House), signed by Clinton, and past the courts was another matter.

      1. They got all but one of the Contract items passed the House, and the great majority of them passed the Senate too. Clinton ended up signing most of the items, often against his will to some extent. (See Welfare reform.)

        The Contract did a great deal of good, from a conservative/libertarian perspective. The fact that most of the progress was rolled back by later congresses doesn’t change that.

        Stop expecting utopia. The Left (including some liberal Republican career politicians) will always be pushing for more socialism. We need to be always pushing back. The Contract was a good hard push from our side, and it should be applauded.
        Now it is high time that we give another good push.

        1. As long as age is the only requirement to vote we will be socialist.

  12. The economy would shut down if we started balancing our budgets.

    I think you need to learn some economics other than the Keynesian variety, Harsanyi. Running up debt you have no intention of paying back does not result in a vibrant economy in the long-term.

    Funny how state governments almost invariably are required to balance their budgets, yet their economies don’t “shut down”.

  13. How about let’s not constrain Congress and the budget with arbitrary sounds-good nonsense. Republicans are not “just as” bad as Democrats at fiscal irresponsibility, they are monumentally worse. Even if you don’t like the things Dems enact, they do believe in paying for them, except in special circumstances such as a giant recession–something GOP voodoo nonsense would be powerless to deal with.

    1. Are you transmitting from Earth? Because, if you are, you must be in some kind of time warp where the most reckless spending in our history isn’t occurring. And that’s really saying something when a government moves into the Number 1 slot.

      1. You only think that because you think all spending is reckless. Ergo, lots of spending is lots of reckless spending, ergo the parties are equal and you don’t have to turn your brain on today.

        1. Also, apparently the USA was in a recession from 1949 til 1995 because those were the years during which Democrats controlled Congress and ran deficits.

          Oh, there were years that accounting tricks like counting FICA taxes as revenue but not counting Social Security outlays as spending that let them pretend they were balancing the budget, but even with that trick they only managed a “surplus” in two years.

          There is something about being in Congress that makes it so only the most venal, corrupt and irresponsible types reach leadership, no matter what the party.

          1. Except Democrats will tolerate the notion of raising taxes to pay for things on occasion, and Republicans, ever since Bush I got slapped around for doing it, simply will not. When you refuse to address an entire half of the budget equation you aren’t serious about anything.

            1. Yeah. Just like they have raised taxes to fund all the spending over the last two years.

            2. If you stop watering plants, do they not die?

            3. For SIXTY MOTHERFUCKING YEARS!!!!

              The fucking Democrats ran Congress for sixty motherfucking years. Every fucking year they controlled fucking Congress they ran a motherfucking deficit.

              And you have the motherfucking gall to come here and fucking claim that the motherfucking democrats represent some kind of fiscal fucking responsibility.

              Jesus Christ, there are some blind partisan fucking dicks of both colors that post on this motherfucking blog but you are the blindest most fucking partisan of the fucking lot.

              1. …umm….this?

            4. Look in a mirror, dickshit.

              1. Democrats are cutting spending left and right. Even the Pentagon! Imagine that 5 years ago. I’m not saying Dems are perfect but they tend to be more responsible stewards of the economy for the simple reason that the GOP cling to supply-side bullshit like a religion. By like a religion I mean “completely impervious to facts.”

                1. Democrats are cutting spending left and right.

                  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahaha…

                  *ahem*

                  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahaha…

                  Please, provide some sort of evidence for this.

                2. Ok Tony the Troll, I’ll bite.

                  Please cite for me one program where spending in absolute dollars has been cut.

                  GOP cling to supply-side bullshit like a religion. By like a religion I mean “completely impervious to facts.”

                  Did not revenues rise in for both Reagan and Bush after tax cuts were implemented? They did for JFK.

                3. OK, this must be some troll impersonating Tony. This is too over the top stupid and obviously wrong and easily disproved to be real.

                  1. I believe Tony is trying to impersonate Joe by not answering a pointed question.

                  2. Actually, prolefeed, it seems to me that the world is full of people who spout shit that is “too over the top stupid and obviously wrong and easily disproved to be real” and just keep repeating it no matter what.

                    Of course, those people are really stupid, too, and although whoever Tony is usually just strikes me as a well meaning donkey following busybody he doesn’t usually strike me as stupid.

                    So maybe you’ve got something there.

            5. Except Democrats will tolerate the notion of raising taxes to pay for things on occasion, and Republicans, ever since Bush I got slapped around for doing it, simply will not. When you refuse to address an entire half of the budget equation you aren’t serious about anything.

              True. Before then, it used to be the other way around. Democrats would raise spending, and then Republicans would be “fiscally responsible” by raising taxes to catch up — and catch heat for it. It was a common joke/lament among conservatives. Why the party roles switched, I don’t know.

        2. Sorry. Even if you thing lots of spending is good, you’d have to be a retard to believe that the spending going on now is well conceived and non-wasteful.

        3. You remember that time they passed a bill and forgot to name it? Or passed a massive, poorly written healthcare bill that they hadn’t actually read because they were sure it would work out ok? And then did that again with finance reform? All of which will put us on the hook for more spending?

          Oh, wait, what definition of reckless were you using? I was going with the one in the dictionary.

      2. He also seems to be living in a world where the Democrats have not controlled Congress for all but about twelve of the last sixty or so years, everyone of which featured a deficit.

        1. Dude, fiscal responsibility is their meme! How dare you question that!

          1. It’s Journolist approved.

    2. Tony can I live in your world. It sounds like such a nice place compared to reality.

    3. Re: Tony,

      How about let’s not constrain Congress and the budget with arbitrary sounds-good nonsense.

      Tony-ese to English translation:

      “Let’s drop the Constitution”

    4. Shorter Tony:

      “We aren’t fiscally reckless. When we spend like drunken sailors, we’ll tax you like you dropped the soap in the shower.”

    5. You can’t say Democrats don’t deficit spend when they’re responsible for Medicare Part D (which they wanted to be even bigger). Also, Democrats try to take credit for the Clinton surplus when in fact the deficits of the 90s didn’t begin to dwindle until Republicans took congress in ’94. Furthermore both Republicans and Democrats in the 90s were hampered by a REAL pay-go law that was passed by Bush 1 and a Democratic congress.

      Look, it’s a pretty simple equation….Republicans deficit spend on wars (both hot and cold), while Democrats deficit spend on welfare. Quite frankly, if I had to choose, I’d take the latter. But the best solution is a Republican congress and a Democratic president, each limiting the excess of the other.

  14. Oh my, the Republicans are promising that they learned they’re lesson this time and really REALLY won’t spend irresponsibly anymore, honest injun!

    And if you believe that one I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Really great view of “nowhere.”

  15. Republicans are not “just as” bad as Democrats at fiscal irresponsibility, they are monumentally worse. Even if you don’t like the things Dems enact, they do believe in paying for them, except in special circumstances such as a giant recession–something GOP voodoo nonsense would be powerless to deal with.

    Dumber

    and

    dumber

    and

    dumber.

  16. We tried tern limits in CA, it just made things worse.

    No offense intended, but I think you need to re-examine your causation.

  17. This leaves me speechless

    According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric known around the Muslim world for his popular television show “Sharia and Life”, Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is “in perfect alignment with the magnetic north.”

    This claim that the holy city is a “zero magnetism zone” has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.

    “That’s why if someone travels to Mecca or lives there, he lives longer, is healthier and is less affected by the earth’s gravity,” he said. “You get charged with energy.”

    Western scientists have challenged such assertions, noting that the Magnetic North Pole is in actual fact on a line of longitude that passes through Canada, the United States, Mexico and Antarctica.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…..nwich.html

    1. This claim that the holy city is a “zero magnetism zone” has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.

      Anyone got a compass?

      1. No magnetic activity in Mecca?

        There’s also no brain activity in Mecca.

        1. Science hasn’t been a strong point in the muslim world in about 1000 years.

          1. I’d say 500 or 400. I pulled those numbers out of my ass but there was plenty of advances in the arts and sciences during the Dark Ages in the muslim world.

            1. When I used the figure of 1000 years, I was refering to advances made before the year 1000.

              400 to 500 years ago was around the time of Gallileo, Copernicus, and Newton, amongst others. I don’t believe there was anyone comparable in the muslim world at that time.

              1. To be fair, a lot of the reason for the Islamic world’s fall behind Europe had less to do with the rise of religious fundamentalism, and more to do with the fact that they were the buffer between Europe and the barbarian hordes. It’s hard to promote science and learning when the Mongols decide to ruin your shit (and in the hard times that follow, it’s not surprising that people turn to religion for answers and comfort)

    2. Western scientists have challenged such assertions, noting that the Magnetic North Pole is in actual fact on a line of longitude that passes through Canada, the United States, Mexico and Antarctica.

      USA! USA! USA!

    3. I believe what they are saying is that Mecca, the North Magnetic Pole, and the North Pole lie on on the same great circle. It means that a compass in Mecca points not just to the North Magnetic Pole but to the geographic North Pole as well.

      1. Unless he’s using a different definition of “Great Circle” than those of us who do navigation then that would be impossible.

        A great circle route is one the is the shortest distance between two points on a globe. A GC route between these two points passes well below Greenland.

        1. Comin’ into London from over the pole,
          Flyin’ in a big airliner.

        2. My bad. I added 110W and 40E and got 180 degrees. However, magnetic declination in Mecca can be about zero by now (the linked map is 10 years old).

        3. I think he’s using a different definition of ‘circle’ from my geometry teacher.

    4. This sounds like the kind of shit I hear from my weirdo old-hippie new-agey friends. I.e. total nonsense with no basis in reality.

    5. Me, I’m going to Lourdes where there’s no bullshit psuedoscience mixed with my religiosity.

      1. I wouldn’t advise doing that in lieu of seeing a doctor. But you never know I guess.

    6. Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre is also in charge of the single weather monitoring station in Egypt. His climactic model says it’s hot outside.

  18. Pro Liberate….I agree with you on the term limits issue. To the author, please elaborate on why you oppose term limits.

    Immediately upon settling into a new congressional office, each and every Representative or Senator is considering how their votes on bills will have them back in office in the next election. It’s salvation. It severely skews good judgment as it requires one to consider his / her own salvation rather than the merit of a bill. This begins with the drafting of a bill as well. The bill is drafted and catered to satisfy the author’s own partly-line constituents in order to be re-elected. And to gain addtional votes, it needs to be drafted in a way to get support, and that is only done by making sure it will satisfy others party-line constituents.

    I can only imagine that one would be more bold and pragmatic in his / her voting during the last term….throwing caution to the wind if you will. It has been tested in Chile. Guess what….its been hihgly effective. Their term limits have made for an incredibly productive and pragmatic congress. You will see that they have by far the most stable and growing economy in all of Latin America. As compared to other Latin American countries, they have less absurd entitlement programs and pork barrell spending; hence, far less corruption in general.

    Why not try it here? Its quite obvious our system is incredibly inneffective. But, how will we ever get Congress to actually vote in such a manner that would limit one’s career? As much as i hate to say it, it would necessitate an major increase in Congressional pay raise. But similarly to any major corporation, the lack of atrition in management often leads to lackluster performance and stagnation. You can be certain this would also lead to less ethics violations (does 40 years of Charlie Rangle ring a bell???) By design, the psychology of the power-grabbing politician would be greatly altered and they might actually consider the course of their actions a bit more; after leaving office they would thrust back into the general population and live in the “real world” (pardon the cliche but I cannot think of any other way to describe where career politicians do NOT reside.)

    What would we all talk about if it weren’t for career politicians?

    1. But how do you keep term limited politicians from doing crazy shit knowing that they are out of office anyway? Doesn’t it make every Congress a mad duck?

      1. Good point John. Well, I don’t know that there is anyway to keep someone from doing crazy shit….just can’t teach ethics to some of these folks. I would think that is a problem either way. Look at Pelosi. She’s bat-shit crazy and she gets re-elected anyway.

        1. You are right. Basically we are screwed.

          1. ” each and every Representative or Senator is considering how their votes on bills will have them back in office in the next election. It’s salvation. ”

            So instead of thinking how they will stay in the same office, they think how they will get to the next one. It’s just a game of musical chairs.

            Plus, it leaves the party’s the the lobbiests as the ones in the capital with staying power.

            I understand the desire to get fresh blood in. But term limits just don’t do what people hoped they would.

    2. I agree.

      Term limits, plus much higher pay.

      Maybe we’ll end up with at least a few representatives who have demonstrated some competence in the private sector. And let’s make sure that representatives have more to lose than gain from corrupt activities.

      1. They could be executed for misdeeds, like in China.

        Talk to Joe Lieberman. He admires the Chinese government. He might go for it.

  19. Doesn’t matter the issue, until there is tax reform that limits their ability to tax discriminantly. We need one tax (consumption or flat) and Congress can spend a strict percentage of what people pay. Rather than taking what they want and rarely need.

    1. How is a flat or consumption tax good? They can make it any per cent they like and raise it at will!

      1. They do that anyway, but with a consumption tax you see what’s being taken every time you spend money. With the income tax, through the magic of withholding, most people are completely unaware of how much they are paying. In my home state, everybody there knows the tax rate pretty much on demand. Ask someone what percentage of their income they paid in federal tax last year.

        1. What you say is mostly true, but the VAT is truly evil.

  20. The Republican “budget hawks” will cut and run at the first sign of resistance from the moochers. Just like they did in 1981 and 1995.

    The entitlement class is well-entrenched. And some of them regularly vote Republican.

    1. Probably so. I am sure the Journolist is already working on stories of how spending anything less than 25 cents of every dollar in America will result in turning the clock back on every bit of progress we have made in the last 100 years.

      1. You’re such a fucking hack John. I haven’t done my right-wing hack research yet for this “Journolist” meme but it’s showing up in the mindless rants of Drudgeans everywhere. But you’ve never heard of Sean Hannity.

        1. Hey, that’s hardly fair. L’Affaire Journolist is a family matter here at Hit & Run.

        2. Did you get that talking point for Journolist?

          1. “John” is actually Michael Savage.

          2. No and I don’t meet regularly with George Soros either. HACK.

            1. You don’t have to. That is why he has a newsletter.

        3. John is a hack, but I’ve come to appreciate his wonkery and consistent point of view. Tony, is a hack, but his shrill tone is sometimes a turnoff. Joe, was a hack. I miss Joe.

          1. I’m an admitted partisan, but not for any “my team vs. your team” childish bullshit, but purely for pragmatic reasons. I am not a hack. John is a hack. He gulps up and vomits out freeper bullshit with reckless abandon. He has no principles. He just wants his team to win, which is all the more ridiculous given the fact that his team has done its damnedest to destroy the country and make no apologies for it. The day Democrats start abandoning facts and start working actively to destroy the country because of millenarianism/corporate whoring/lack of a cerebrum is the day I abandon them.

            1. “The day Democrats start abandoning facts and start working actively to destroy the country because of millenarianism/corporate whoring/lack of a cerebrum is the day I abandon them.”

              So how long after January 20th 2009 did you abandon them?

            2. This is where I come to form my political opinion, Tony. I want you to feel the partisandhip bubble and burn inside you and release your inner hack. How else can you compete with John?

              Oh freeper, I had to look that up. Yeah, and you’re right. But John is a consistent, even entertaining freeper hack and is a large part of the reason I enjoy the comments here at all.

              It’s good to be a hack, at least on the internet. Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of burnt waffles.

              1. Honestly, I didn’t know there was such a thing as “Free Republic” until I looked that up. If I am one, I am one independently.

                1. if true, that’s awesome

                  1. It is honest. I post on here too much and do a job. How the hell could I be running around Free Republic? Further, if I did, there would be posts. I defy anyone on here to find a free republic alias that they think is me posting. There isn’t one.

              2. I thought freepers were those dirty hippies who live on food taken from dumpsters.

                1. that’s freegan

            3. Shorter Tony:

              “I’m not a hack. Only someone who parrots talking points like I do for the other side is a hack.”

      2. I agree with John that any attempt by Republicans to cut the budget next year will be met shrill cries from the Journolist crowd.

        And, unfortunately, the small-government types in Congress probably are correct that forcing a showdown with Obama and the media over the budget will be a suicide mission.

        Look at what happened in 1995. A couple of weeks at media hysteria over the government shutdown killed the Contract With America. Would it be any different now? My hope is that existence of the Tea Party crowd means the mood of the populace is different now than in 1995. But that’s probably just wishful thinking on my part. Every program has a constituency that will scream like stuck pigs at the threat of cuts.

        1. Man, do I need to proofread…

        2. There are two reasons for hope. First, it is a different media world than 1995. There wasn’t an internet media back then. The major media is a shadow of its former self. Newsweek running a cover “how the Gingrich Stole Christmas” wouldn’t have the effect today that it did then.

          Second, the budget crisis is a lot worse now than then. I think people realize something has to be done. There is a much greater sense of urgency than there was.

          No question the approved talking points after November will be how the new Republican Congress is overreaching and a reasonable Obama is stopping them from throwing grandma into the street. But I don’t think it will be as effective.

          Of course the Republicans still won’t have any balls. So we are probably screwed anyway.

    2. Bingo!

  21. You only think that because you think all spending is reckless.

    This implies you actually concede there is such a thing as reckless spending.

    Please provide us with an example not from the defense budget.

  22. Is this article meant as satire? Instead of a 5% cap on spending growth (plus inflation), how about cutting the federal budget 5% annually? Great Britain is cutting their budget, why can’t the Americans do likewise? There are more than a few departments which should be completely axed. Department of Education? Department of Agriculture? You think we could manage to grow food and educate youngsters without thousands of bureaucrats and billions in subsidies? It’s not rocket science.

    1. But those thousands of bureaucrats have to eat somehow don’t they?

      I’d like to see most of them picking fruit for a living.

    2. You anti-government people are tekkin r jobs!

    3. Instead of a 5% cap on spending growth (plus inflation), how about cutting the federal budget 5% annually?

      Babysteps, Terrymac, babysteps.

      I believe that each year’s budget increases 13% automatically. This rule was enacted during Carter era inflation, IIRC.

      Let’s first see if congress can merely cut the rate of increase rather than an actuall, nasty, spending cut that would probably starve orphans and kick grandma out of her house and onto the street.

  23. This leaves me speechless

    Personally, I couldn’t give a shit.

    1. But you no doubt worry daily about what some church in Tulsa may or may not be saying.

    1. I will remember that the next time Reason posts one of its “can you believe what the fundies are doing now” posts.

  24. Until you see a reason post with my name on it, don’t bother to pretend it’s my fault.

  25. But Medicare will wither on the vine!

  26. Shorter Tony: “Gimme yer fuckin munneeeeeeeeeee!!!!”

    1. Would-be thief from The Fifth Element: “Gimme the CAAAAAAAAASSSSSSHHHHH!”

    2. Holy crap! I didn’t realize this thread already had a Tony translator. My bad.

  27. *taps toe, waits*

    1. You called?

      1. You need to maintain a wider stance Brooks.

        1. I dare you to say that again!

      2. You need to maintain a wider stance Brooks.

  28. That’s not what I meant!

    I was waiting for Ton…

    That sounds even worse.

  29. Democrats are cutting spending left and right.

    The right wing media must be doing a fantastic job of keeping this from me.

    1. Didn’t you get the memo? The media is totally right wing and hates Democrats. Democratic supporters just get angry when the credibility of said media is attacked out of kindness.

      1. John you brought this up on the other thread. Notice the terrible argument: if someone questions your attacks on the media as being leftist, and that person is a leftist, then that must prove the media is leftist. Where do you get such terrible reasoning from?

        I think your “the media is leftist” meme is stupid because it is stupid, not because of any affinity for the media.

        It’s stupid because there is no “the media.” The media is not monolothic. Hit and Run is “the media.” National Review is “the media.” Fox news, movies, radio and tv network are “the media.” Even among media outlets that are not conservative or libertarian there is a wide continuum: Mother Jones is far more ideological than the NYT.

        Throwing everyone in the same bag is the same, tired old fallacy of generalization you specialize in. To point that out does not mean one is defending the media or a leftist for that matter.

        1. You only get angry and rant because you think you have a dog in the fight. If calling the NYT right wing would hasten its demise, I would gladly do that. But I want the NYT to die because I view them as being a force for ideas I think are harmful.

          Yet, you get angry when the someone accuses the media of being left wing because you know that they are a force for ideas you like. Otherwise you wouldn’t care.

        2. “The media” in general terms is those outlets that are far more public. The alphabet soup news broadcasts nationally as does the NYT and various magazines, most, if not all of which swing left to far left in some cases.

          Yes, there are plenty of blogs, web sites, magazines, papers and so on that vary politically to left and right, but most of them don’t have the same natural exposure as the other outlets.

  30. I’d always remembered the Contract as fairly uncontroversial stuff, I didn’t know it had a big “anti-crime” bill component.

    “THE TAKING BACK OUR STREETS ACT: An anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, “good faith” exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer’s “crime” bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools.”

    1. It is a good thing the Democrats rolled all of those provisions back when they took over the government.

    2. AFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFFAFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. arf? I believe you meant arf.

  31. The way I see it, LIBERTARIANS are social moderates (progressives in some matters) and fiscal conservatives.

    The DEMs are social liberals and fiscal moderates (or as you guys would prefer, irresponsible).

    The REPUBLICANS are social conservatives and fiscal conservatives when it comes to people but are very fiscally irresponsible when it comes to paying for war, unfunded tax cuts, etc.

    WHY WOULD LIBERTARIANS vote REPUBLICAN?

    I, for one, am NOT AT ALL HAPPY with Obama. However, I don’t want a more conservative federal and supreme court. These people will eliminate many liberties.

    1. You lost me at the Democrats being fiscal moderates.

      That might have been true during Grover Cleveland’s administration.

      1. They aren’t social liberals either. Libertarians are far better on social issues than Democrats.

        1. Democrats love freedom as long as freedom only means the right of your 14 year old daughter to have a publicly funded abortion without your knowledge. Anything else is negotiable.

          Abortion is the only issue they will absolutely go to the mat over every time.

          1. And freedom to many republicans means deferring to law enforcement.

            Neither side gives a rats ass about freedom.

            1. Freedom to both sides is deferring to law enforcement. That is a bi partisan sickness.

          2. But I do agree with your post.

    2. Nobody answered the question.

      Is it worth having republicans in office (for the so-called fiscal conservative thing)?

      1. It should be noted though that neither Dems or Republicans are monolothic.

        There are some blue dog Dems that are pretty good on a lot of issues, and same with some Reps.

        You really just have to examine each candidate.

    3. What the fuck is an unfunded tax cut???? Hey dumb shit it’s our money…get it OUR MONEY!!!!

      1. Hey dumbass,

        Giving a tax cut without reducing spending is just borrowing.

        It’s like taking money out on your credit card. how does making your kids taxes go up a good thing?

        It’s our fucking expenses. Either raise tax to pay for them, or lower expenses (the preffered method of course) but stop trying to pass them on to the next generation.

        1. You are the dumbass. The term unfunded tax cut is a leftist idiom. Where in my comment did I suggest not cutting spending??? But I can see from your comments you are one of those dumb fuck libs. “Giving a tax cut without reducing spending is just borrowing.” Giving….giving??? You don’t GIVE a tax cut…you cut taxes. It’s my money you asshole. You don’t give me my money. And I never said anything about borrowing. You should learn how to read…shit head.

          1. Let me try this again, because you seem to be too fucked retarted to understand. If you don’t cut spending first you ALWAYS borrow.

            See that’s not that hard.

            Maybe you’ve got your head to far up the republicans ass to see lies they tell you.

            Oh here’s a tax cut, no don’t worry about the debt we will grow our way out.

            1. “fucked retarted” Great command of English. As your posts show you are a fucking leftist. You not only can’t read, you can’t write either.

              1. eat shit bitch

                1. Are you talking to yo momma?

  32. The DEMs are social liberals and fiscal moderates lunatics (or as you guys would prefer, irresponsible).

  33. I don’t know why they call it ‘Contract With America’, they should call it, ‘Contract on America.’

    1. Vote for the democrat who’s going to blast me in the ass? Or the republican who’s going to blast my ass? Either way, politics is all one big ass blasting.

    2. Lemme tell youse how it is. Dese Merkins, see, day bin messin’ wif teh Big Guy, holdin’ back on dair cash, sayin’ it belongs to dem. Anda Big Guy, he don’t like dat. So he puts out a contract on ’em, see? A contract fer sleepin’ wif teh fishies, huh-huh-huh.

      1. Let me do some addition here.

        300 million Americans at a rate of ten thousand a head, is that right, Wise Guy?

        That is like 3 trillion dollars . . .

        Do you take Visa?

  34. Obviously, anyone who engages their time in reading forums could use their time for more productive activities, but those who engage the trolls day in, day out, when you know what they are going to say, they know what you are going to say; as if you are in a competitive race, winning points though there is no fixed number of laps or time limits that can turn those points into something meaningful are a special case in undervaluing the worth of your own time.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t…..duRhSKu74g

    1. You my friend are a dumbass, if you think you are going to sell your book with that intro on this forum.

      “Obviously, anyone who engages their time in reading forums could use their time for more productive activities”

      Productive according to whom? You see productivity is in the eye of the beholder. Reading these forums is productive in my view, because I learn a shit ton about what’s going on, and the way people look at it. It might not be productive in your view, but you can kiss my ass.

      “but those who engage the trolls day in, day out, when you know what they are going to say, they know what you are going to say; as if you are in a competitive race, winning points though there is no fixed number of laps or time limits that can turn those points into something meaningful are a special case in undervaluing the worth of your own time.”

      How the hell do you undervalue the worth of your own time? So just because I spend my time doing something that you would consider ‘less productive’ than other activities, I have undervalued my time? MY time is as god damned valuable as I WANT.

      1. You think we are peddling the Seven Habits because we wrote it, or that we stand to make money off of it? That’s awesome.

        Of course there are means to measure the productivity of your time that are independent of your subjective valuation of that time. For instance, how much income did you generate from answering our post in addition to what you would have made otherwise? We can guran-damn-tee you it was not even a penny, and we can also guarantee you that if you were free of your petty habits, like responding to trolls, your opportunities are potentially unlimited.

        1. Hahaha and this is why you will not have any success on this forum attempting to peddle your book. It is the wrong place for people who feel their way of living is better than that of another person.

          “Of course there are means to measure the productivity of your time that are independent of your subjective valuation of that time”

          No, in fact there are not. Because it is, as stated, my time. What you consider productivity, I may not.

          Perhaps my ultimate goal is to gain knowledge, in which visiting forums and reading opinions is highly productive. Perhaps I have no interest whatsoever in gaining more wealth than I already have.

          God damned elitists always think their way of living is better than anyone else’s.

          1. Wow. You know, none of us here are Stephen Covey.

            Perhaps, I should have put this in language that Reasonoids would better understand given you can’t relate to the principles of time management: Tony is the mind killer. Answering his post is like wasting your water.

  35. As far as spending and political parties goes, I think this puts in some perspective.

    About Ted Stevens
    “The Republican was remembered as a towering political figure who brought billions of dollars to the state during his 40 years in the Senate ”

    Senators of both parties think it’s their job to bring federal tax dollars to their state. If they do they are rewarded by re-election. Find a federal candidate that says he’s not interested in supplying his state with taxpayer money, and I’ll show you a loser on election day.

    1. And what’s so bad about it, after all? Alaska is a vast wilderness. Ted Stevens helped bring some measure of infrastructure to it. Though at some point it does become a bridge to nowhere too far.

  36. It’s clear to me after readinf stuff like this,

    Democrats are cutting spending left and right.

    and this,

    The day Democrats start abandoning facts and start working actively to destroy the country because of millenarianism/corporate whoring/lack of a cerebrum is the day I abandon them.

    it’s clear to me that Tony has travelled here from a parallell dimension where these things are true.

    So Tony, let’s quit this squabbling and get down to something important.

    How does this interdemensional travelling device of yours work?

  37. Has Mr. Harsanyi been living under a rock this past year? A basic Google search before writing this article would have turned up the CONTRACT FROM AMERICA.

    http://www.contractfromamerica.org

    1. Wow. Talk about 10 vaguely worded populist talking points. The devil is in the details.

    2. Don’t be so mean to him. Some old-school news writers do their work on manual typewriters and research in libraries.

  38. 5% real budget growth per year is far too much, imo.

  39. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me consistently for 16 years straight, I must be a Republican.

    In a fantasy world where we actually could get something like this passed, I would say the government should not be able to spend more than the 5 year rolling average of revenues plus any surpluses form the previous year.

    This would allow some elasticity in recessions without allowing insanity. The only way to override it would be to sell war bonds during a Congressionally declared war.

  40. “The United States needs politicians with integrity and self-control, not former drug addicts-turned- counselors dealers .”support

  41. interesting post
    thanks for sharing

  42. In a fantasy world where we actually could get something like this passed

  43. enen,you can find whatever watch you want on my name

  44. I suppose it’s good from a political perspective – two to appeal to the NYT-WaPo Axis of self-described ‘moderates’ and two to appeal to the Right.

  45. “Honey, we’re simply not taking enough money to balance the budget – you will have to get a second job!”

    “Uh, darling, why not simply lower the spending to match what we take in?”

    “Sweethear, you *know* I love you, but the idea is to balance the budget, not reduce it!”

  46. 5% real budget growth per year is far too much, imo.

  47. Experience without learning is better than learning without experience.

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