Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's Not Just The Spending

For a long time, I've said, "it's the spending, stupid".  The year in/year out deficit spending that's slowly killing our country is a problem that must be resolved. 

It's time to admit that it's more than that: it's not just the amount of spending, it's how they spend.  More precisely, it's the process. 

Last night just before midnight, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced negotiators had come to an agreement on the “omnibus” government funding bill for 2016.  That means the federal budget is finally agreed to, just about three months late (it's due before the start of the fiscal year on October 1).  Naturally, that means we're under the threat of yet another fake crisis "government shutdown", and the bill will very probably be passed when the minimum 3 days has elapsed for everyone to read this 2,200 page deal (with an additional 1,000 pages of explanatory materials). 

If they worked 24 hours a day for three days, they'd need to study 30 pages each hour, and each page represents around a billion dollars of spending.  The congress critters' job is to decide whether spending that money is really in the country's best interest.  Working 24 hours a day is unreasonable, but there's no way to make the load reasonable.  Work 12 hour days?  Double that to 60 pages/hour.  Even if they split the 60 pages per hour up among a team of advisors, how could they possibly get that done? 

And as always, the process brings this complex decision making down to a binary "yes or no" vote.  Either every single penny of spending / tax cuts / whatever is passed or it's all voted down.  If it's voted down, you can be sure the left stream press would howl like banshees about the stupid party shutting down the government, starving children and shoving granny off a cliff. 

It's not that there were no negotiations, that has been going on for months, it's just that the only people who get a voice on what's in that omnibus bill are the few in the subcommittees.  Most representatives or senators have no input whatsoever, they either vote yes or no; up or down.  If there are parts they adamantly oppose, they either get blamed for having "shut down the government" or go along. 

Imagine you had a meeting at your house to determine the budget for the coming year.  Of course there was food, clothing, cars, all the reasonable stuff, but your teenagers put in money for cocaine or porn or an exotic vacation.  Suddenly it's time to vote and you object to that expense; "we don't have the money to take that trip!" or "you're my kids and I'm responsible for you: you're not getting drugs and porn".  But when you kill the budget, the nosy neighbors threaten to call Child Protective Services on you for starving your kids.  

This is what they mean when people talk about DC being broken.  This process is broken.  It doesn't matter how much good your congressman or senator wants to do, the structure prevents it. 
(obviously a little old, but substitute random Stupid Party member for random Evil Party member)


  1. Well, in my case, my son (6) would devote the entire credit card balance to toys and candy and cheeseburgers and pizza, but the point is still valid.


  2. I'm a technical writer and have worked out a principle which states that the likelihood of a manual being read is inversely proportional to its thickness.

    The 2,200 page bill plus the 1000 page supplement is designed NOT to be read (IMHO). A bit like the Obama healthcare bill ... I imagine that on his first day in office, he pulled up a sack trolley with a stack of boxes containing the worked out bill and said "Now, THIS is what we are going to do ...". It was FAR too large to have been written in the time between his swearing in and the implementation.

    Phil B

  3. Shutting down the gummint might not be such a bad thing, except that when it starts back up, all those bureaucrats get retroactive pay for the days they had off. No savings realized.

  4. If a proposed bill is too long to read and consider in the time available then it should be voted down.

    1. Yup. But that's a rational, reasonable analysis of the issue. There's no room for reason and logic in the realm of governance or the chambers of the legislature...logic, reason, and common sense are "oppressive" tools of the patriarchy/sane folks! Or something. The media, and a solid, noisy chunk of the citizenry, are respectively too despicable and, in the latter case, too stupid, to understand a concept as simple as "if the legislature can't read the legislation in the time allotted, the legislation ought not be passed." It sucks, but idk what can be done about it. *helpless shrug*