How to Eat an Elephant
How does one eat an elephant? The answer, of course…is…one bite at a time. It is such a simple and obvious answer. If you have something massive, break it down into small
parts. This is not really wisdom or insightful. It is not particularly astute. In fact, the concept to break down a large project into smaller manageable pieces is just…well…common sense.
So if breaking down a large project into more manageable pieces is just…common sense, why is it so elusive in our federal budgeting process? Who would in a sane state of mind raise their hand and state that they believe it is a good idea to spend billions more than one takes in year…after year…after year? There is an inability to honestly challenge the spending and so it grows. It grows despite the acknowledgement of imperfection and waste by all lawmakers. We are told we must spend more than we have on more than we need; this is a destiny of a democracy high jacked by progressive socialists. If the classic liberals (those for liberty) whether Republican or Democrat do not find a way to restore our democracy; there will be no nation.
If we deny the progressive narrative that the nation cannot operate without constant government intervention then we are left with the question, how do we govern in a fiscally responsible manner? The answer is the same way one eats an elephant…one bite at a time. The current budget process has evolved to an ineffective mechanism that is far too easily manipulated. The conflict between the House and the Senate over recent budget battles illustrates how ineffective our process has become and has robbed Congress of its power of the purse.
Instead of trying to group a mere three trillion dollars of spending into one bill, perhaps we need a more gradual approach. Who really believes it is a good idea to eat an elephant in one bite, other than Congress. And does it make sense to have two houses preparing two incompatible budgets bills? Does Congress have nothing better to do?
The alternative is a rolling budget process. There is no need for two budgets. Just one rational budget process. The Founding Fathers contemplated that all spending authority should reside with the House as does the power to tax. Only in a last minute compromise did they agree to expand the power of the purse to the Senate. At the time of the compromise, small states were concerned about being crowded out, a concern that with 50 States and a two party system is no longer valid. From a budget process there is no need for duplicate budgets. The budget and the power of the purse should be returned to the House.
All spending should require congressional approval. There should be no mandatory spending. Yes, for most of these programs; there is not a politician alive who would eliminate them, but modify? All government programs require savvy stewardship, something that our largest programs have been lacking for years.
Each Cabinet Secretary would be required to submit a budget to the house committee established for oversight. Any program costing in excess of 20% of the entire department budget would be reviewed and approved in isolation. Other programs may be reviewed in isolation upon a simple majority vote of the committee. Only programs that receive a simple majority vote will be forward to the Speaker for a House vote. All appropriation bills must be voted on, without filibuster, without amendment.
After the approval of the House the Senate would take the individual appropriations under consideration. The Senate would be barred from filibuster and amendments. They could only accept the spending appropriation in the form approved by the House. The Senate must vote on all House appropriation bills.
All department areas not receiving appropriation would need to cease within three months of budget presentation. Yes, if Congress does nothing, we spend nothing.
The final step would be as it is today, the President would review the bill and either approves or rejects the spending appropriations. But unlike today, the bills will be smaller and robustly reviewed instead of signing an all or nothing multi-trillion dollar bill.
In the 16th district, we have sent an accountant to Congress. Now far be it for me to criticize the wisdom of sending an accountant, but in our representative’s tenure, we continued our insanity. Maybe we need to find another accountant.