Patterico's Pontifications


Beldar, Poker, and the Budget

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:24 pm

Beldar risks the wrath of the Mark Levins of the world, together with his cynical blogospheric enablers, by arguing why a fight over a few billion here and there is not the big issue. The Presidency is.

A poker analogy is involved.

I agree to an extent, but I think an even bigger issue is passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. The party in power in the Oval Office will change from time to time in the next few decades. But a Balanced Budget Amendment is forever.*

*”Forever” in this context means “until it is gutted by liberal Supreme Court Justices.” Another reason why our presidency is important.

35 Responses to “Beldar, Poker, and the Budget”

  1. A Balanced Budget Amendment is a colossal waste of time as there will be a few exceptions like natural disasters and Congress Critters will shove everything through the hole.

    Noah (026d7f)

  2. The Presidency is not necessary any more. Any judge from any level may, and usually will, govern from the bench. The Wisconsin debacle comes to mind.

    Why have an executive when one controls the judiciary? Why have a legislature at any level when a judge living four states away will invalidate the law?

    Beldar’s points are nice. Without changing the infrastructure that is budgetary legislation – most important of which is putting the judiciary back in its place – having the Presidency, 99 Senators, and 300 Representatives is as useless as teats on a boar.

    DaveO (dd8a8b)

  3. The power to appoint judges is vital. The Presidency and the Senate are key in this regard. Meanwhile, the Tea Party Purists are happy to lose election on principle and then bemoan the judges who legislate from the bench.

    bskb (3a53fe)

  4. I agree with Noah in the first comment. The Balanced Budget Amendment is far less important than addressing — and ultimately reversing — our generations-long drift toward the overbearing social welfare state that micromanages every aspect of our lives. It’s not a case of having the government live within its means, it’s a case of reminding citizens that being an American is about providing for yourself and voluntarily contributing what you can afford to others, not expecting that someone else will take care of you and give you things that you don’t earn yourself.

    JVW (615582)

  5. No, history teaches us, that the only way to balance
    the budget, is to balance the budget,The way Gramm/
    Rudman was circumvented by the courts, should have told have reminded us.

    narciso (b545d5)

  6. While I’m all for a balanced budget, I’m very skeptical about a balanced budget amendment. Who enforces it? If Congress and the President pass a budget which is not balanced, will the Court be able to cut programs to balance it? Will the Court be able to raise taxes to balance it?

    It’s true that many states have balanced budget provisions in their constitutions (my own does), and they tend to work ok. But I have serious doubts whether it would work at the national level. I foresee way too many ways around its limitations for it to be anything more than symbolic.

    PatHMV (299e25)

  7. Well, there is the thing in California where the elected Republicans are PROUD COMMUNISTS. The Republicans refuse to shut down the $1.7 billion going to Redevelopment Agencies. No, really; the Republicans are doing that. Stopping Communism is a show stopper for the California GOP. These Redevelopment Agencies implement rampant eminent domain abuse and incessantly spend skimmed off property tax money for blatant pork project. The Republicans.

    Advocates for small-government have zero business voting Republican. If you voted Republican in the past, you are an idiot. Communists.

    Wesson (dc314c)

  8. Its always tomorrow with some people. Right now, any spending bill has to go through the House. So, if the Republicans don’t want to spend money on Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, PBS, etc., all they have to do is pass the spending bills without it. If the Senate wants to vote the bill down, or if Obama wants to veto it, no problem. Without the approval of the House, the money doesn’t get spent.

    These ridiculous stratagems, where the power to be gained in the next election is the primary goal are self-defeating. The key to winning elections is to keep your promises. The Republicans got the House by promising to do everything in their power to roll this crap back. It’s time to deliver.

    Anon Y. Mous (3874a8)

  9. .


    I agree to an extent, but I think an even bigger issue is passing a Balanced Budget Amendment.

    A balanced budget amendment is an utterly absolutely, and completely useless waste of time.

    The first step towards rational government finance is to require government accounting at ALL LEVELS to adhere to GAAP. Without that, a balanced budget amendment is worthless.

    Proof? New York State has exactly such a “balanced budget amendment”.

    Their solution to a shortfall? Do something that would be absolutely illegal for any business, and utterly beyond the entire purpose of a “balanced budget amendment”: It “sells things to itself”.


    Smock Puppet (c9dcd8)

  10. .
    In short, the first priority to actually fixing our problems with government finance — on ALL levels — is and must be to
    require the government to actually use rational accounting mechanisms.

    This current failure allows all manner of chicanery and folderol, and is the true source of all the problems.

    There’s a reason we don’t let businesses do it.

    WHY would or should we think governments would be any different?


    Smock Puppet (c9dcd8)

  11. If you wish to reduce the expenditures of government and the deficit, the first thing you must do is to reduce spending.
    Sort of like stopping racial discrimination by not discriminating on the basis of race.
    If the House would only pass expenditures that are enumerated in the Constitution, the only money that would be spent would be highly limited.
    They (the Left, and the WH) can scream all they want about not shutting down the government, but no one can force Congress to spend money on items it does not wish to. If Congress appropriates funds to maintain the enumerated functions of Government, and others believe that is insufficient, any shut down is not the fault of the majority party in the House.

    AD-RtR/OS! (215f54)

  12. Anon (#8) wrote:

    The Republicans got the House by promising to do everything in their power to roll this crap back. It’s time to deliver.

    The key phrase is “in their power.”

    The GOP is not powerless. But with control only of the House, their only power is to hold the entire functioning of the federal government hostage. Misplaying that hand will guarantee a GOP loss in 2012.

    That is not a function of weak will among GOP lawmakers (although there’s plenty of that to go around too). It’s structural, embedded in the Constitution’s separation of powers and its checks and balances. Those make this a four-year project.

    If you can’t follow that, go back and re-take high school civics. It’s “time to deliver” only what can be delivered. That’s (1) such cuts as we can get now, plus (2) an absolutely clear choice for the voters in November 2012. Because this is a four-year project.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  13. This reminds me of those who insisted that we “had to” mount a cross-channel invasion in 1942 or 1943. Ask the survivors of the Dieppe Raid exactly how good an idea that would have been.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  14. AD-RtR/OS! (#11): How many times can the GOP members of the House shut down the operation of government without completely destroying the chances that the GOP will take both chambers of Congress and the White House in 2012?

    The answer is either “once” or “none.” Obama and the Dems are betting that it’s “none.”

    I think the answer is “once,” actually. It needs to be over the big enchilada, a whole budget for a whole fiscal year — a budget that addresses the structural deficit as well as the controversial (but comparatively small) social programs.

    The answer is certainly not “three or four times” — that’s exactly the briar patch the Dems are begging us not to throw them into.

    Start now, yes. Hope to finish now, no.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  15. Let me try explaining it another way to my constitutionally conservative friends:

    If Republicans, by controlling the House, had the amount of power you seem to ascribe to them, that would completely overthrow the constitutional system of checks and balances.

    We don’t want the House to have as much power as it would need to do what some folks think it ought to do now. But that doesn’t really matter, because the Constitution doesn’t give the House that much power.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  16. Beldar – Off with your head!

    You’re talking like a candy-azzed RINO pragmatist. Heh!

    daleyrocks (9b57b3)

  17. But with control only of the House, their only power is to hold the entire functioning of the federal government hostage.

    Maybe you should retake those civic lessons yourself. The House can pass bills that fund the necessary parts of the government. If the Senate or Obama block them, it is they who are (partially) shutting down the government. If you actually read the constitution, it does not contain the word “hostage”. When the House exercises its legitimate power, that is a check on the others who seek to fund everything under the sun. What in the hell is the good of having the power to check an abuse by another, if you are to scared to use it, less you be called extreme.

    Because this is a four-year project.

    No, it isn’t. Passing a budget is a yearly project. Waiting 2 more years is just retarded. Anyone who claims to be fiscally conservative, and yet wants to just keep up these current levels of spending is nobody worth following. Those who are too scared to use the power they have because they might lose it, don’t deserve to have it in the first place.

    Anon Y. Mous (09ff41)

  18. Of course, the “constitutionalist” Republicans in the House — all but 15 of them — think they can make laws all by themselves, without the Senate even participating.

    Patterico (c361e2)

  19. I wonder how these opponents of a Balanced Budget Amendment think we are going to cut entitlements.

    Your solution?

    Patterico (c361e2)

  20. I wouldn’t call myself an opponent to a BBA, but I am skeptical that it will be effective. As to entitlements, the only way entitlements can be cut, is if there is a broad-based support for it throughout the country. The only way that the support will materialize is if we cut all the other stuff first. Then, when people see that even though all the bullshit has been cut and yet we are still going broke, they will begin to come around to the reality that something has to be done with entitlements.

    Anon Y. Mous (09ff41)

  21. Anon, when you talk about “retarded” and then you mischaracterize what I just wrote as wanting “to keep up these current levels of spending,” it becomes very, very hard for me to not put two and two together in an uncivil way.

    As for who gets the blame for a government shutdown, we have limited experience, but I suggest you ask former President Dole.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  22. Patterico, re entitlements (if #19) was directed to me: I really want to see Ryan’s proposed full-year budget.

    As for a constitutional balanced budget amendment, I understand the attraction and support the goal, but I’ve never seen one reduced to writing that I thought had a practical chance of successful operation — putting completely aside the question of whether it could be ratified. Do you have a particular favorite proposal?

    (And thanks, by the way, for the link. Meant to say that earlier.)

    Beldar (cd529f)

  23. If you can’t follow that, go back and re-take high school civics.

    Beldar, if you are really concerned about civility, let me suggest you take a look in the mirror and then try a different approach.

    Anon Y. Mous (09ff41)

  24. Patterico, I’d first like to see us get the annual deficit down to the level where the debt interest is rolled over. At the ~3% we’re paying now, that would be roughly $450 billion. Or about $1 trillion under last years deficit.

    Little baby steps.

    Beldar is right. We need to take this one to the wall, but stop and say, OK, this time we’ll let it pass even though the deficit is obscene, but we’re going to expect that the full year budget is getting deep cuts. Or else, and then keep hitting on that point.

    And none of this namby-pamby pay them anyway crap — if the government is shut down, nobody gets paid for the time they don’t work, and neither does Congress; first set of cuts.

    And the Republicans need to lay this all out to the American people in a long series of ads all summer and fall. IF THERE ARE NO SIZABLE CUTS, THERE WILL BE NO BUDGET AND NO MONEY. DON”T SAY WE DIDN’T WARN YOU.

    Kevin M (298030)

  25. Oh, and that the total spending will be no more than 21% of GDP. As before. Why is it 25% now? Bush was fighting two wars and it was never this high.

    Kevin M (298030)

  26. California has a balanced budget requirement. That hasn’t stopped them yet.

    Kevin M (298030)

  27. Beldar:

    But the time to fight those fights is not now, but as part of serious debate on the overall 2012 budget — we’ve got the big enchilada on the table.


    Waiting 2 more years is just retarded. Anyone who claims to be fiscally conservative, and yet wants to just keep up these current levels of spending is nobody worth following.

    Your strategy is to keep the current level of spending in place. Even though the House can stop it, you believe the political consequences will be damaging, so the House should just go along with Obama & Reid.

    How is what I said a mischaracterization? Although you have your reasons, that is what you want to happen until 2012.

    Anon Y. Mous (09ff41)

  28. This will be the end of our discussion, Anon. You obviously don’t read closely, and I got tired of exchanging playground insults in kindergarten. If you had read post #8 above at all closely, you would have seen that I wrote:

    It’s “time to deliver” only what can be delivered. That’s (1) such cuts as we can get now, plus (2) an absolutely clear choice for the voters in November 2012.

    What part of “such cuts as we can get now” do you think means “keep the current level of spending in place”?

    Perhaps you did not read my post on my blog, which Patterico was kind enough to link in this post, either. In it, I wrote:

    I’m not saying roll over, I’m saying hold as firm as we can on the House bill now in the Senate.

    That’s consistent with everything I’ve ever said on the topic of fighting for budget cuts since Obama was elected. I would be the first to agree that the $61B or so of cuts in the current House CR, although historic in absolute terms, is minor relative to the size of Obama’s budget explosion. But it’s not “maintaining current funding” by any means. If getting that, instead of the $30-odd billion that Biden and other Dems have been talking about, requires that we defer the fight on the controversial social issues until the fight on the 2012 budget, I believe that would be a perfectly acceptable trade because it’s stupid to try to force a fight about those programs unless and until we have a competing budget literally “on the table” with really sizable cuts measured in the hundreds of billions.

    Perhaps another thing you missed in civics class is that the 2012 fiscal year begins in October 2011. No budget has yet been passed for FY2011, which is why we’re still doing continuing resolutions to keep the government running now. But Obama submitted his proposed FY2012 budget in mid-February, in case you missed that. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House budget committee, is in the final stages of completing the GOP version of the 2012 budget, and will be releasing it sometime in the next few days. That will mark the beginning of the fight. That’s the “big enchilada.”

    So no, I’m not talking about putting off debate on the 2012 budget until 2012. That would be stupid. But the fight over the FY2012 budget is likely to consume the rest of this spring and all summer, with the most likelihood of a resultant government shutdown coming on or about October 1.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  29. Ryan just said, on Fox News Sunday, that the House GOP’s FY2011 budget will cut trillions — more than three for sure, and the numbers they’re working with now are over four — from Obama’s budget. I’m not sure over how many years that is, but obviously they’re looking at hundreds of billions in cuts per year. The details will be out on Tuesday, he says.

    Friends and neighbors, that’s the fight to fight. And you want to put your controversial defundings in that fight. If we’re going to throw the dice on a shut-down, it ought to be for those sorts of numbers — not over a few tens of billions in this continuing resolution. If the Senate blocks it, or if Obama vetoes it, then the 2012 election campaign is all about that — and that’s the overriding issue we can win on in November 2012.

    Beldar (cd529f)

  30. I agree to an extent, but I think an even bigger issue is passing a Balanced Budget Amendment.

    I think that something far more valuable than a balanced budget amendment would be an amendment that limited increasing total federal spending to a rate equal to 1/2 the percentage increase in the previous year’s GDP.

    If the GDP increases by 4.0% year-over-year, then total federal spending can increase by only 2%. In the years where the GDP shrinks (negate GDP growth), then total federal spending cannot increase at all.

    Eventually, the budget will be balanced and very soon after that run huge surpluses.

    The problem is binding future Congresses and Presidents to this.

    Some chump (e84e27)

  31. “I think that something far more valuable than a balanced budget amendment would be an amendment that limited increasing total federal spending to a rate equal to 1/2 the percentage increase in the previous year’s GDP.”

    Some Chump – Not bad.

    I would also throw Pay/Go back in the mix, you know, because it worked so well. I have little faith that an a balanced budget amendment could be designed to work effectively, providing both teeth to limit spending, but also flexibility to allow spending in times of emergencies such as war.

    I would be very interested in reading proposed wording.

    daleyrocks (9b57b3)

  32. Daley, the biggest problem with a balanced budget amendment would be the tendency to resort to raising taxes, rather than cutting spending, in order to achieve balance.

    But the system I suggested works. Tax revenues will always be about 18% of GDP. If you hold spending increases to a lower rate than the GDP increases, eventually tax revenues will easily surpass spending. No need for a tax increase. In fact, once there is a solid surplus, tax rates can be decreased and still not run a deficit.

    Some chump (e84e27)

  33. We need to cut spending this term, no more double talk and no more excuses. If the Republicans now in office fail to stand foursquare for substantial cuts, there won’t be enough of them left in office after the 2012 elections for a pinochle game.

    Failure to display real conviction on fiscal responsibility will result in an anti-incumbent groundswell of revulsion so deep and so wide as to shake the very foundations of representative government itself.

    ropelight (41f155)

  34. “But the system I suggested works.”

    Some chump – I agree. I don’t think your idea was half bad.

    I’m as skeptical of a BBA as I am of pay/go, which is why I would love to see some suggested wording.

    daleyrocks (9b57b3)

  35. I have to take issue to Beldar’s President Dole jibe. The 1995 shutdown was wholly orchestrated by President Clinton. The House had done nothing different than what Tip O’Neill’s congress repeatedly did to Reagan. Clinton gambled that the MSM would react more favorably to a Democrat shutting down the government than if Reagan had done it. Unfortunately for America, Newt let the spin be that the government shut down because he was peeved about the President slighting him. This is a good reason to not let Newt near high office ever again. To be honest, I suspect the main reason Clinton engineered the shutdown was that his staff was doing too a good of job of protecting Clinton from “his dark side”. A fan of Presidential History, reading about the JFK years must have made the president awfully blue. Then an intern flashed her panties at the president. History will forever record that Clinton first hooked up Monica Lewinsky during the shut-down. I don’t think that was coincidence.

    Clinton won in 1996 for two reasons A)the economy was good B)Dole was a lousy opponent. The shutdown did damage Gingrich and is a pretty good reason why did we so poorly in ’88. But let’s face it the current crisis is about our debt and the size and government. The 1995 shutdown was about Monica’s panties.

    fearthesame (9e3176)

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