09 April 2011

Lucy v. Charlie Brown

The final budget bill, and the entire manufactured crisis appalls me.  It reminds me of the advertisement for the National Lampoon many years ago: "If you don't buy this magazine, we'll shoot this dog".

Every year, the budget gets held hostage by some idiot -- I'm sorry, Representative or Senator -- who believe their re-election hinges on some marginally important issue. 

Many, if not all of the appropriations bills for FY 2011 were written and out of committee almost on time last year, well before the mid-term elections.  The Republicans used delaying to prevent them from being acted on.  They thought they could create outrage by delaying action, which they could used to their electoral advantage, and they did.  Score one for Lucy v. Charlie Brown. 

The Democrats never made the case at the time that they faced Republican obstructionism, or if they did, the message was so muddled as to have no effect.  The Village is complicit, because most of them don't understand the process, and their salaries are paid for by revenues from advertising sold to corporations which benefit from the broken process. 

The opportunity to discuss and debate policies and programs proposed in the President's budget request is intended to be in the Spring, by the committees responsible for governance and oversight of the programs to be funded.  You wanna wack funding for Planned Parenthood?  Great -- propose striking the funding line from the appropriation, and propose rewriting the authorizing legislation for the agency that is responsible for administering the grants to elminate their authority to do it.  Then vote on it.  If you don't win, you try again next year.  It's not sexy, but it's how our government is supposed to work. 

What makes for good goverment and good governance is so radically different than what is useful for electoral success -- particularly after Citizen's United and Gore v. Bush -- that I can't see a way out of the woods.

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