Congress

Democrat Budget Strategy Lacking The Force

|

The three-week budget extension passed by the House on Tuesday was reported almost universally as being "approved despite GOP defections." Politico points out that House Democrats aren't exactly operating as a coherent block either:

Direction of life force flow unclear

The top two Democratic leaders in the House have twice split on whether to approve short-term government funding bills that cut billions from federal accounts. Senate Democrats haven't put forward a long-term spending plan that can move through their chamber, and Democrats on both sides of the Capitol say they have no idea where the White House stands or who's running the show.

The result is a rank and file that is confused about its direction and unhappy with the leadership — or lack of it — on when to go along with the Republican-controlled House on budget matters and when to stand and fight.

"The sum and substance of our strategy can't be waiting for the other side to [mess] up," Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) told bloggers Wednesday.

But for many Democrats, that's exactly what their leaders' short-term strategy amounts to.

In a follow-up interview with POLITICO, the Brooklyn liberal said if there is a more elegant Democratic plan, "it's such a Jedi mind-meld going on that it hasn't filtered down to my level."

Speaker Boehner's argument is that the short-term resolutions add more opportunities to make cuts, while notable defectors like Mike Pence (R-In.) and Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) want to make a stand now. The split in Democratic ranks appears to be between those who want to do nothing but cry and those who will go along with some cuts as long as certain sacred programs aren't touched.  

Divided government can be a marginal improvement over the free-spending ways of an unified Congress and executive. Yet this squabbling over crumbs doesn't mean jack squat if the only thought given entitlement reform is "consideration."

Watch Matt Welch discuss entitlement reform on Freedom Watch:

More from Reason on the legislative branch here.

NEXT: In Which a Civil Libertarian Praises the DEA

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Jedi mind-meld

    Not only is this shithead a member of Congress, he mixes up Star Wars with Star Trek? What a schmuck.

    1. Dear Zod, that’s like crossing the streams.

    2. Isn’t it precisely because he is so freakin’ stupid that he is a memeber of Congress?

      1. Wiener is actually a smart, articulate person. The problem is that he’s bought into statist ideology, resulting in him doing stupid stuff.

    3. And apparently he misused the term anyway. What he meant to say, judging by the context, was “clusterfuck”.

  2. “The sum and substance of our strategy can’t be waiting for the other side to [mess] up,”

    Depends on who the other side is. As a member of Congress, of either party, I wold think this strategy would be nearly fool-proof.

    1. It is nearly fool-proof. Platitudes about how, yes, you too would like to reduce the deficit, but the other side is concentrating on making the wrong sort of cuts, irresponsible cuts, and isn’t being reasonable are always hugely popular.

      The public hates controversy, and victims. Any spending cut can be portrayed as having victims. The public wants spending cuts, but only if the cuts aren’t accompanied by images and rhetoric that make them feel bad and mean-spirited.

      Even the timid cuts so far by Republicans are now seen as too extreme and inflexible in this CNN poll and this WaPo/ABC poll.

      The public may claim that they prefer the policy that the Republicans are doing, but they want it to be done with the approval of the Democrats and Obama too.

      1. That’s why Boehner is probably right, politically speaking. The Republicans have a very good chance of capturing the Senate, and of course possibly the Presidency depending on who is nominated. If they fight now they might well lose, and jeopardize any chance of taking over Congress.

        1. Of course, at that point the moderates who make up the swing votes will still back down from actually making severe cuts, since those cuts will still be politically unpopular.

          We’re a democracy, I shan’t be surprised that our politicians are as feckless as our people.

      2. I thought there weren’t any cuts, just reductions in the rate of growth.

        If anybody were proposing a full-year budget, they ought to give the absolute numbers, point out how this year’s number is higher than last year’s, and call the other folks liars.

        And keep using the word “liars” over and over again.

  3. 218 members of the House could shut the government down indefinitely. Fuck them. Democats depend more on government than Republicans. Fund the military, the customs and boder patrol, Social Security and the various welfare programs and shut the rest of the government down indefinitely. Who gives a shit if the Department of Commerce or Education or Energy ever reopens? Just shut it down and let the Democrats scream. And then afte a couple of months when no one notices that life is any different without government, kill it off perminantly.

    1. I mostly agree with this. It’s time to make a stand.

      1. I do, too, and I suspect many Americans concur.

        That said, Boehner is a gigantic pussy and is terrified of being portrayed as another Gingrich. Petrified.

        1. Many Americans, perhaps, but not a majority.

          Not in that CNN poll, and not in this ABC/Washington Post poll.

          Of course, all the polls are a mass of contradictions. The public wants spending cut much more, but opposes any specific cuts. The public also blames Republicans much more than Obama for not compromising, even though the Republicans are asking for a policy closer to what the public claims it wants.

          1. Hence I chose my words carefully and didn’t say, “majority”… LOL

      2. Seriously, send up a bill that funds the bare essentials and nothing else. Then refuse to fund anything else. There would be nothing Obama could do about it. The Congress and more specifically the House has all the power if they choose to use it. They could also put an end to the Imperial Presidency as an added bonus.

        1. As awesome an idea as this is it requires leadership, not to mention a gigantic set of balls, neither of which is present in Congress.

          1. And there never are. Backing down in the 90s is what weakened the GOP’s reform position back then. They need to make limited, cheaper government the new standard.

            1. Except that in 90s, as now (see polls above), what weakened the GOP’s reform position is that the American people talk a good game, but always turn against the idea of limited, cheaper government, if it affects any programs whatsoever that they like.

              The Republicans back down because the American people don’t actually want cuts, they want politicians to pretend. We get exactly the government that we deserve.

              1. The polls were starting to swing in the Republicans favor right when they caved. Also people are more concerned about spending now than they were then. The deficit is to the point no one can rationally argue it is no big deal anymore.

                1. The polls are swinging away from the Republicans right now. Sure, people agree that they’re concerned about the deficit and would rather cut spending than raise taxes. But every actual proposal to cut spending is incredibly unpopular.

                  The public will only approve of spending cuts that are also approved of by Democrats. Any cuts that are actually attacked politically are hugely unpopular.

                  1. Better to go down trying to save this country from itself than in helping to accelerate our fall.

                    1. Sure, in general I agree, but I hardly think anyone should be surprised when politicians display a lack of courage and behave exactly how the voters want, instead of doing what you and I think the country needs.

                      Though if your tactics lead to a backlash that gives the same kind of majority to the Democrats as the one that passed Obamacare, that would be “helping to accelerate our fall,” I think.

                      I view the choice as an unpleasant one between decelerating our fall, but not quickly enough to matter, and going down trying to save the country, and in failure accelerating our fall.

                  2. The public will only approve of spending cuts that are also approved of by Democrats. Any cuts that are actually attacked politically are hugely unpopular.”

                    Since the Democrats have gone insane, we are doomed.

                    1. That’s why the current GOP strategy is to try to get the Democrats to name some cuts, any cuts, and then pass those cuts in a pro-rated budget bill. After doing so, come back and ask for more.

                      It’s actually been extremely effective as a legislative tactic for the Republicans, essentially ceding the power over which programs to cut in exchange for muting the ability of the Democrats to complain about their own cuts.

                      However, as certainly noted, the size of the cuts that they’ve been able to get the Democrats to agree to are piddling.

                    2. That would be the beauty of the shut down I described above. Make the Democrats say which programs they want to restart. Fund the essential ones and leave the Democrats to argue for the pressing need of the rest of it.

                    3. Note, as evidence for my point, that as Jesse Walker mentioned, nobody actually cares about the cuts to rural and poor radio stations in the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, because the Democrats are proposing that cut as well.

                2. Then we shall argue irrationally!

          2. True. Sadly you go to war with the Congress you have. But we can dream can’t we?

        2. Seriously, send up a bill that funds the bare essentials and nothing else.

          I think your view of “bare essentials” is different than mine.

          I think the starting point of negotiations ought to be a so-called “shutdown” of government where all the “non-essential” employees are furloughed, and refuse to pass any funding legislation that puts any of those “non-essential” employees back on the job.

          Shorter: a “shut-down” government is still too big. Huge cuts need to be made to balance the budget.

          1. Bullshit. If you just funded, SS, medicare, the Military at a reduced rate (ie O&M funds and nothing more), payment on the debt, and ICE and CBP and the courts, you would balance the budget.

            1. Bullshit. If you just funded, SS, medicare, the Military at a reduced rate (ie O&M funds and nothing more), payment on the debt, and ICE and CBP and the courts, you would balance the budget.

              I thought I saw somewhere that entitlements and debt service alone ate up our tax revenues.

              1. You would be close According to Wikipedia 2010 revenue was 2.3 trillion dollars.

                All of the entitlements and interest on the debt is 2.09. Personnel and O&M for defense is 437 and DHS and DOJ combined, which would give you the courts, prisons and border control is around 40. So you would end up with a 2.5 trillion budget.

                It would balance it. But it would bring it down.

                We are fucked. Remember to that that figure is the interest payments at abnormally low interest rates. When the interest rates go to normal we are done. TARP and the OBAMA stimulus has sealed the countries fate. I hope the fucker and everyone in Congress who voted for this shit rots in hell.

    2. And then [after] a couple of months when no one notices that life is any different without government, kill it off [permanently].

      I agree. The problem is that the news media is totally dependent on the Federal Government for their livelihoods. They would scream “train wreck!” over and over and over until all the sheep started to believe them, and vote out those awful Republicans.

      1. The media is completely grotesque and depraved. The country’s only hope is for it to go broke and lose all of its influence.

        1. Given the vaccuum of leadership and electorate’s love of “free” stuff (TANSTAAFL) I believe this is what will happen.

      2. The problem is that the news media is totally dependent on the Federal Government for their livelihoods. They would scream “train wreck!” over and over and over until all the sheep started to believe them, and vote out those awful Republicans.

        Ummm, the next election is almost two years away. That is a long time for cognitive dissonance to work — for most people to have the epiphany that a “shutdown” government isn’t causing more than a blip in their lives, and so hey, let’s cut some more.

  4. I must protest. While McCain may be a Sith, Obama is no Jedi.

    1. Note the color of Obama’s lightsaber. . .

      1. RACIST!

    2. Anakin was a Jedi…

      I was ready to blast the picture too, until I read the alt-text. Josh needs to start giving alt-text seminars to the rest of the Reason staff.

      1. There’s no good in Obama. Never was. I can feel it.

        I don’t know why anyone would use Star Wars metaphors for him, because he’s clearly a Star Trek guy. He’s president, after all, because of Star Trek.

        1. My own take on Obama in the form of a sci-fi reference:

          “My God, it’s full of…nothing.”

          1. You’re calling him a black monolith?

            Racist!

        2. If you are going for Sci Fi references Obama is Lord Dorwin all the way.

          1. Pretty much. Without the lisp and the snuff, but otherwise right on.

      2. Hillary Clinton is definitely a Sith. There are pictures and stuff.

        1. 1st, excellent post.

          2nd, totally off topic from our off topic: I happened to run across this recently:

          No one ever said being president was easy. If the recession lasts for 18 months and doesn’t end with a big growth spurt, he’ll be almost certainly facing a GOP Congress in 2010, regardless of what he does in office. Fickle people, Americans.

          1. Whoa. I must’ve been time traveling or something when I made that comment.

            1. I thought you deserved some props for that foresight.

              Also, what kind of crappy spellcheck doesn’t include “Anakin” (or even “spellcheck”)?

              1. Noticed that Firefox still flags Obama as a misspelled word?

                NTTAWWT

            2. That thread’s got some classic joe in it too:

              joe|11.5.08 @ 4:43PM|#
              The more radical elements are a smaller and smaller segment of the population, Pro Lib.

              Also, let’s not cast Barack Obama purely as a consequence and recipient of political developments in the black community. He’s also a leader.

              I’m not answering any questions about Japan today, my teleprompter is being loaded for tomorrow. Let’s talk March Madness!

              1. Wow. I forgot just how partisany his rose-colored glasses could get.

                Obama was an obviously unqualified candidate. It was just insane that everyone wanted to believe otherwise.

                1. Never forget!

          2. Oh, and thanks. Baked Penguin was also involved in removing the photoshopping of those images (which had excised the original Force lightning).

            1. Shhh… Bradley Manning sent me the classified pictures taken prior to cutting the lightning out…

              1. Well that explains some things.

        2. I say this as someone who has hated Hillary since the 1990s. But if you told me today I could give Obama, Biden and Boehner heart attacks and make her President, I would probably have to say yes for the good of the country.

      3. Clearly Josh studies alt-text under the ancient master Mattwelch…he is mysterious and unambiguous all at the same time.

        There is only one Jedi left, Rand Skypaul

        1. I guess that would make Ron, Yoda.

          huh, i wonder how far I can take this…

          1. Actually, that would make Ron Darth Vader.

            1. Obi-wam never told you what happened to your father, did he?

              1. He told me you sent him to work for Noodles in Madison, Wisconsin!

            2. I was taking the mentor tack…but Ron Vader is a cool name. “Rand, search your feelings, you know destroying the government is right. JOIN ME!”

              see, it works

              1. Certainly, the left views the Pauls as some sort of Sith-like people.

                1. Only the Senate deals in absolutes.

                  1. This line killed me. Excuse me? Only the Sith deals in absolutes? What about “there is no try, there is do, or do not?” Fucking Lucas. What a prick.

                    1. 1st: “Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.”

                      2nd: Really? Worse than the fact that the line itself is an absolute, said by by far the best Jedi ever?

                      3rd: You made me realize that at the start of the Obi-Wan-Darth Vader (take 1) battle Obi-Wan says “I will do what I must” and Vader replies “You will try.” Don’t know if that was intentional but if so, brilliant.

                      4th: As much as the prequel sucked ass, the Obi-Wan/Vader battle at the end of of Revenge of the Sith is the most satisfying and fun to watch 10 minutes of all six movies. Although Yoda just giving up after stopping Palpatine’s lightening was super lame.

              2. Join me, and together we can NOT rule the country as father and son.

  5. NO…CUT…I…SIZE…MATTERS…NOT

  6. McCain looks like he’s trying to grab Obama’s ass. I didn’t know McCain swung that way.

    1. The lizard tongue makes it look even more debauched.

  7. When parsing the MSM, GOP defections are always the few, right minded, good republicans who have seen sense and reason.

    Democratic defectors are at best, confused by GOP rhetoric, and at worst, traitorous villians whose names shall not be mentioned.

    I’ll never forget the saccharine profile NPR did on Jim Jeffords when he left the GOP.

    1. Yup and that makes it hard to govern as a Republican. People always bitched about how Bush only put people he knew would be loyal to him in cabinet positions. He had no choice. Every Republican lives with the constant temptation that they can be media hereos if they only turn on the administration they work for.

      Look at John Dean. He was probably the biggest dirt bag in the Nixon Whitehouse. Bigger than Halderman or Liddy. But he was the one who turned and he is a hero to this day.

      1. To be sure, I have little to no love left for Republicans, but I still smile at MSM depictions of them- especially when there’s ample criticism to go around for everyone.

  8. Oh, has Reason covered the Recall of Miami mayor? I think that’s one of the more interesting U.S. political stories of the week and I haven’t seen anything on it.

    1. That is a good point. The guy got 12% of the vote. 12 fucking percent. Saddam Hussain would have done better than that among the Kurds. That is a truly remarkable accomplishment in douchbaggery.

    2. Yesterday’s posts.

  9. Stab or don’t stab. There is no stab at.

  10. I think that the life is clearly being drained from Obama. He got stuck with the life-sucking job of president and McCain managed to dodge that. Plus McCain can’t really get any older.

    1. The result of trying to use the ring of power.

      Why not, we have Jedis and Vulcan mind melds.

      1. That’s a good thought experiment to perform before voting for any candidate: Would he attempt to wield the Ring or toss it into Orodruin?

        1. Well the first question will be is he a candidate? That pretty much answers your question.

          1. I find this to be generally true. But you never know!

            In any case, by framing the question, you learn something about politicians, if you didn’t know it already: Don’t let them handle Rings of Power.

  11. Ironic that government mandated CFL lightsabers are replacing the classic ones. They take forever to light up, can’t cut butter and are all wiggly.

    1. But they are going to save the Jedi 0.05% on their lightsaber bills!

      1. And they last ten times as long.

        1. As long as you don’t turn them upside down. Then they go out just as fast as a regular one.

          1. That does put a cramp on your dueling style.

  12. Concerned With Muslims, Gay
    Activists Cancel Parade in England

    http://bighollywood.breitbart……n-england/

    1. PC poker: Straight Jihadis beats any two of a kind.

      1. Very funny. It does create an interesting PC delemma though for hipsters, eh?.

    2. Would you come speak at our lecture series?

    3. My biggest disappointment? They didn’t cancel the parade and simply state as their reason: “We’re scared shitless of these people”.

      Instead, they canceled it on the grounds that Islamophobia and Homophobia are the same thing- and having the parade would be Islamophobic.

  13. All of the talk of the futility of doing something about spending reminds me of this quote from Jacques Barzon. He is talking about the 16th Century but he could just as easily be talking about early 21st Century America.

    “When people accept futility and the absurd as normal, the cultue is decadent. That is not a slur; it is a technical label.”

    If you haven’t read From Dawn To Decadence, you should.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.