Archive for August, 2011
August 19th, 2011 at 12:18 pm
ATF Gun Scandal Supervisors Promoted

In what can only be described as a near-criminal lack of discretion, ATF management saw fit last Sunday to promote three agents who supervised the Phoenix office’s “Fast and Furious” gun-walking fiasco to senior positions in Washington, D.C.

The three supervisors have been given new management positions at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. They are William G. McMahon, who was the ATF’s deputy director of operations in the West, where the illegal trafficking program was focused, and William D. Newell and David Voth, both field supervisors who oversaw the program out of the agency’s Phoenix office.

H/T: Townhall

August 19th, 2011 at 11:43 am
We Already Have a “Department of Jobs,” Mr. President. It’s Called “Texas.”
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So almost three years after Barack Obama was elected President, he promises to unveil a “specific jobs plan” next month.  Very gracious of you, Mr. President.  Apparently, one of his brilliant ideas is to create an entirely new bureaucracy within the federal government, a “Department of Jobs.” Never mind that we already have a Labor Department, a Commerce Department, and so on.

But here’s something for Obama to ponder.  As noted today in The Wall Street Journal, “Over the past five years, Texas has added more net new jobs than all other states combined.”  Naturally, Team Obama and the desperate political left are already attempting to discredit Texas’s economic success.  But the facts, unsurprisingly, refute their claims.  For instance, for all of the attempts to mislabel those new jobs as low-wage, the Bureau of Labor Statistics “pegs the median hourly wage in Texas at $15.14, 93% of the national average, and wages have increased at a good clip:  in fact, the 10th fastest state in 2010 at 3.4%.”  Keep in mind the lower cost of living in Texas, where those wages therefore go further.

So as Obama ponders a “Department of Jobs” during his extended Martha’s Vineyard vacation while the economy stumbles, perhaps he will experience an epiphany.  Namely, that he should do at the federal level what Texas has done at the state level – bring legal reform, reduce taxes and allow the private sector to flourish.

August 19th, 2011 at 10:19 am
Podcast: Energy Expert Discusses Administration’s New Fuel Economy Mandates
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In an interview with CFIF, Sam Kazman, General Counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and head of its Death by Regulation project, discusses why the administration’s proposed ultra-CAFE standards risk lives, compromise auto reliability and increase costs for consumers.

Listen to the interview here.

August 19th, 2011 at 8:38 am
Video: Obama’s Vacation from Reality
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino comments on President Obama’s 10-day holiday in the posh New England retreat of Martha’s Vineyard as the nation’s economy reels and everyday Americans are forced to tighten their family budgets.

August 18th, 2011 at 7:11 pm
My Radio Show Tonight at 9 Eastern

At 106.5 FM in Mobile, my weekly show tonight will feature guest Hans Von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow, Heritage Foundation, and former head of the FEC. We’ll flay the Obama Justice Department. Should be fun.

August 18th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Cantor: Right Theme, but AWFUL Substance

I just about spewed my cookies when I saw this post regarding Eric Cantor. Cantor, very wisely, advises fellow Republicans to “avoid unnecessary conflict.” Well, yes. I frequently get blasted by conservative ideologues for insisting that there are occasions when it makes no sense to push issues to an all-or-nothing, edge-of-cliff face-off. As a general matter of strategy and tactics, conservatives recently have, quite arguably, tended to err a little too much in that direction for our own long-term good.

But then Cantor got specific, and he is as wrong as wrong can be (I’m quoting NRO’s Andrew Stiles here):

He [Cantor] simply suggests that House Republicans stick to the spending levels called for in the recent debt-ceiling deal, as opposed to trying to push for deeper cuts.“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” Cantor writes. “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”

This is nonsense. It’s sickening. The recent agreement’s limits were just that: limits, not mandates. They are part and parcel of the same agreement that calls for another $1.5 trillion in savings. There is no reason, not on God’s green Earth, that some of that $1.5 trillion can’t come from domestic discretionary appropriations, even in advance of any deal reached by the “supercommittee.” Any additional savings achieved through the appropriations process this fall will only make the supercommittee’s job easier. And, of course, there remains so much incredible, unfathomable, indefensible waste in domestic discretionary spending that it makes no sense to put further savings from that area out of bounds. As a matter of fact, I have long argued that it is on individual Approps bills, where individual extravagances can be focused on and highlighted, that the best, least politically dangerous, most politically advantageous case can be made for cutting spending. The fight over the omnibus bill in the spring, halfway through the year, was not the best time to fight. Nor was the debt ceiling the best place to draw a line in the sand, although (thanks to John Boehner, whose achieved far more than conservatives give him credit for) that fight worked out better than I had feared.

But if Congress actually does its job and passes Approps bills one by one, in plenty of time, rather than throwing everything into a massive omnibus bill, then it becomes far easier to make the case for individual cuts.

Cantor’s advice here is the advice of a capitulator. It is disgusting. I am not advocating another “to-the-cliff” battle, but rather a series of carefully chosen skirmishes, all on behalf of the taxpayer.

Shame on Cantor.

August 18th, 2011 at 10:54 am
Perry: VERY Wrong Words, Very Right Substance

I wish to associate myself with just about every word of today’s Wall Street Journal editorial on Rick Perry’s comments on the Fed.  It tracks what I have been writing here for some time. As the WSJ wrote, “[N]ow, even as the recovery is supposedly underway, their meager salary increases are being washed away with another burst of commodity inflation caused by near-zero interest rates and quantitative easing. This is what happens when politicians and central bankers try to use monetary policy to compensate for the slow growth caused by bad fiscal and regulatory policies.”

About the only thing I would take issue with is that I think the WSJ went too far to excuse Perry’s outrageous language about Bernanke being “treacherous, or treasonous.” Not only was it way out of line in substance, but it actually detracted from his message by making his central point, which was so worthwhile, seem part and parcel of extremist political rhetoric and thus much more easily dismissable rather than taken seriously. Shame on Perry for such language. The WSJ should have done far more to condemn it.

That said, again, the WSJ is right to have gone beyond Perry’s unfortunate language to the real import of his remarks. By all accounts, Bernanke is a good man. But I think his policy judgments have been disastrous. Perry is right to say so, and I applaud his stance even as I denounce the way he chose to say it.

August 17th, 2011 at 5:37 pm
Citizens Can Stop Obama’s Big Labor Giveaway
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Ever since the health care debate permanently damaged President Obama’s credibility with the American people, his administration has avoided major legislative confrontations. Instead, the White House has pursued many of its most controversial initiatives through the administrative process, hoping that Americans won’t notice major changes crafted through esoteric rule changes. Now’s your chance to prove the president wrong.

As the Daily Caller reports, the National Labor Relations Board is proposing a rule change that would dramatically shorten the period of time between when union organizers file a petition and when an actual unionization vote is held. The policy, intended to make it harder for management to counter union initiatives, would shorten the period from around six weeks down to 7 to 10 days. 

The Caller characterized one former board member as saying “the Board appears to be rushing to finalize its new policy before more Americans can flood the government with disagreeable comments.” But that looks to be a losing endeavor. The public comment period, which began on June 22, has already resulted in more than 17,000 comments, most of them negative.

There’s still time to stop the NLRB’s anti-business onslaught. The comment period remains open through Monday, August 22. If you’re interested in making your voice heard, you can comment here. The job you save could be your own.

August 16th, 2011 at 9:40 pm
$20 Million Obama “Green Jobs” Program Creates Work for 14 in Seattle
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In the Obama era, the news on any given day seems seems like a real-time seminar on the disutility of Keynesian economics and “green energy” faddishness. The latest such entry comes from KOMO-TV news in Seattle, which reports the following:

Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy – able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint – and the announcement came with great fanfare.

McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.

But more than a year later, Seattle’s numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program.

Fourteen jobs instead of 2,000. That means the Administration’s estimates were off by 99.3%. Since this president is so fond of telling us how much he respects the private sector, how about a few analogies from the real world?

— A baseball player with this level of accuracy would be hitting .007

— A financial adviser with this level of accuracy would have invested $250,000 and ended up with $1,750.

— A doctor with this level of accuracy who saw 850 patients a year would misdiagnose 844 of them.

If you had that baseball player, you’d cut him. If you had that financial adviser, you’d fire him. And if you had that doctor, you’d find a new physician and probably report the old one for malpractice. If you had this president …

August 16th, 2011 at 1:53 pm
Poor Widdle Barry’s Bad Wuck

Barack Obama says that bad luck, not his own godawful policies, are responsible for the renewed slowdown of the economy. The recession, he said, was ending before the bad luck hit.  Oh, woe is he. Poor Eeyore. “Obama listed three events overseas — the Arab Spring uprisings, the tsunami in Japan, and the European debt crises — which set the economy back,” according to Byron York.

Well, the Arab Spring began on Dec. 18 of last year. Earlier that month, the U.S. unemployment rate was reported at 9.4 percent. When Barack Obama took over as president in January 2009, that rate was at 7.6 percent, and his advisors said that passing his vaunted “stimulus” package would keep it below 8 percent.

Some recovery he had going, now wasn’t it?

August 15th, 2011 at 5:27 pm
Obama Waives Legislative Process with New NCLB Deal

Kudos to the Heritage Foundation for drawing attention to this analysis from the Brookings Institution about President Barack Obama’s unprecedented use of the waiver process to bypass Congress and rewrite education law:

It is one thing for an administration to grant waivers to states to respond to unrealistic conditions on the ground or to allow experimentation and innovation. Similar waiver authority has been used to advance welfare and Medicaid reform going back to the Reagan administration, and to allow a few districts and states to experiment at the margins of NCLB in the Bush administration. It is quite another thing to grant state waivers conditional on compliance with a particular reform agenda that is dramatically different from existing law. The NCLB waiver authority does not grant the secretary of education the right to impose any conditions he considers appropriate on states seeking waivers, nor is there any history of such a wholesale executive branch rewrite of federal law through use of the waiver authority.

August 15th, 2011 at 5:05 pm
Wall Street Journal Urges More Republicans into the Presidential Race
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After months in which the shape of the Republican presidential campaign has been amorphous, the events of the past weekend have, at long last, given the GOP contest some definition. Rick Perry is in, Tim Pawlenty is out, and Michele Bachmann is walking away victorious from the Ames Straw Poll. And now, conventional wisdom is beginning to congeal around the notion that the final showdown will be a three-way race between Perry, Bachmann, and Mitt Romney.

That conventional wisdom, however, isn’t good enough for the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, as authoritative a voice as there is in the print wing of the conservative movement. In a staff editorial today analyzing the prospects of the candidates in the race, the Journal’s ed board weighs the candidates in the balance and finds them wanting. It wraps up on this brusque note:

Republicans and independents are desperate to find a candidate who can appeal across the party’s disparate factions and offer a vision of how to constrain a runaway government and revive America’s once-great private economy. If the current field isn’t up to that, perhaps someone still off the field will step in and run. Now would be the time.

There are still some major Republicans flirting with– or being courted for — a race for the White House. Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani fall into the former category, while Paul Ryan and Chris Christie are the two names most frequently cited for the latter. Will any of them get in? Those prospects probably defend on the performance of Perry, who has the chance to close down the field by filling the conservative vacuum or blow it open by becoming the second coming of Fred Thompson. To paraphrase a dictum familiar in Perry’s home state, the eyes of the party are upon him.

August 15th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
Mother Jones Thinks Rick Perry Too Radical for Tea Party

It’s always nice when liberals deign to give advice to conservatives on whom should be admitted to the next Tea Party rally.  Commenting on excerpted parts of Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry’s book Fed Up!, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones thinks Rick Perry is wrong to think that it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to regulate banks, consumer financial choices, the environment, guns, civil rights, a minimum wage, and create programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

At least Drum acknowledges that Perry makes certain exceptions for federal regulations on racial discrimination since that fulfills “the intent behind the passage of the Reconstruction Era amendments.”

What makes liberals like Drum gasp is the fact that Perry thinks that, as James Madison argued in Federalist 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

But if a secondary source won’t cut it for Drum, here’s the text of the Tenth Amendment:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

If they cared to, Drum and other liberals would look in vain to find an enumerated grant of power to the federal government to regulate the items on the list above.  That’s why they rely on activist judges to read into the Constitution federal powers that do not exist.

The Tea Party – like Perry, Michele Bachmann, and other constitutional conservatives – know their Constitution and the meaning behind it.  If liberals like Drum are aghast, it’s only because a grassroots movement is forming to challenge nearly 80 years of unconstitutional jurisprudence.

August 15th, 2011 at 1:54 pm
Gallup: Obama Falls to New Low, Which No President Has Overcome for Reelection
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President Obama has fallen to a new low in public approval as measured by Gallup, with only 39% approval and 54% disapproval.  Even more troubling for Obama and his supporters, no President has won reelection with ratings this low at this point in their tenure.

According to Gallup, President Truman’s approval/disapproval stood at 55%/29% at approximately this stage, President Eisenhower possessed a positive 71%/16% ratio, President Nixon’s approval outweighed his disapproval by a 49%/38% margin, President Reagan remained barely underwater with a 43%/46% ratio, President Clinton possessed a 46%/43% positive edge and President George W. Bush held a positive margin of 59%/37%.  All of these Presidents won reelection, and it should be added that President Reagan, unlike President Obama, was on a steadily upward approval trajectory that had him enjoying a 53%/37% approval surplus just three months later in November 1983.  The nation’s economy was accelerating throughout 1983 following the arrival of his tax cuts that January, whereas our current economy continues to stagnate.  Additionally, although President Kennedy was assassinated before he could face reelection, he enjoyed a 56%/29% approval edge at this point, and his Vice President Lyndon Johnson won in 1964.

In terms of Presidents who did not win reelection, President Ford actually enjoyed a 45%/37% approval balance, whereas President Carter found himself in a negative 30%/55% hole, while President George H. W. Bush still maintained his post-Gulf War approval rating of 74%/19%.

So while Obama can state that he isn’t as bad as Carter, he cannot point to a single instance in which a President with his current Gallup approval/disapproval margin won reelection.

August 15th, 2011 at 12:17 pm
How the American Public is Wrong

At NRO, Andy McCarthy  writes (bolded parts are my own emphases):

Pawlenty’s attack on Bachmann didn’t work for the same reason the conventional wisdom about Bachmann’s candidacy doesn’t work: You are not going to impress ordinary Americans, who think the system is broken, by bragging about how much experience you have in the system. I’m not saying Pawlenty was a bad governor — from everything I’ve read, he seems to have done a very good job under difficult blue-state constraints. But a case built on governing experience, which tells voters: “I know how to make this system work and get better results” is not going to bowl over people who think the system needs dramatic overhaul. They don’t want to hear about the results you’re going to get in Washington; they want to hear how you’re going to transfer money and power out of Washington. They want to know how you’re going to stop Washington from destroying our present and stealing their kids’ future.

I think McCarthy is correct about this being the overwhelming attitude among the public. I also think the public is dangerously wrong on this.

This attitude of “throw all the bums out” is emotionally satisfying, but profoundly misguided. If you are the general manager of a horrible football team — for instance, the Bengals for most of the past 20 years — you would be really, really, really, really dumb to throw all the bums out, especially if they are to be replaced only with people with almost no NFL experience. I’m sorry, but there really is a skill set that can be developed only through experience. A team full of rookies won’t win, can’t win, no matter what.

All the right sentiments in the world, and all the right issue “positions,” won’t do any good if those who hold the positions and sentiments have no mastery of the system. Why is it that in politics, but nowhere else but politics, does the public think that experience isn’t valuable? It’s an utterly illogical idea.

I’ve seen it again and again: “Reformers” get into office with all the best motivations but no idea about how things work. They remain reformers for two or three years — but then they either succumb to corruption, or to power trips, or to conventional wisdom that subverts their principles. The public can’t really know if the elected officials can be trusted to be true statesmen until those officials have been in office long enough to remain reformers even after the bad-old-boys have time to regroup, re-strategize, and counter-attack against the would-be reformers — and until all the other snares of office have been not just rejected but overcome, repeatedly, all while polishing the toughness and canniness necessary not just to say the right things but actually get the right things done.

Conservatives, of all people, should understand this. But these days, we don’t. We’re looking for the latest greatest American Idol; our attention span is about as long as a text message; we swoon over the newest savior while ignoring those who have maintained their integrity and actually improved their effectiveness over the years, all because we actually denigrate effective experience. This American Idolatry and denigration of experience is a terrible flaw on the right these days; indeed, it’s a pathology.

To take examples of people who are NOT running for president (and thus to avid a specific political stand; i.e., these are for example, not to pick on any actual would-be candidates), this is why it is absurd for conservatives to think, this cycle, of the likes of Chris Christie or Marco Rubio to be president. They just haven’t been at the highest levels of positions that require the right skill sets for a long enough time. They have huge potential; but potential isn’t the same as qualifications.

While I’m at it, the other flaw in conservative public perception is the denigration of legislative experience. Again, this is absurd. Knowing how to get things actually passed into law, through the legislative process, is a virtue, not a vice. Many voters may say they want “executive experience,” but the truth is that a major committee chairman or a party’s conference/caucus chairman or Leader in a legislative chamber is indeed a position that requires significant executive skills. Staffs are large. Power is utilized in an executive fashion. And the right combination of personal assumption of authority with the ability to delegate some responsibilities is essential.

Most of the worst presidents have been those with the least relevant experience. Obama. Carter. Harding. And, lest we forget, John F. Kennedy in his first two years, as George Will reminded us the other day.

And yes, I know that Kennedy had been in Congress for 12 years already. But he was almost a nonentity once there. He missed huge swaths of time while hospitalized, sometimes near death, with his Addison’s Disease. He was mostly a dilettante, with little actual legislative accomplishment. He was, in short, a lightweight in the House and Senate.

Anyway, in the spirit of Russell Kirk and Edmund Burke (although I tend otherwise to the Jeffersonian/Madisonian realm), I urge conservatives to remember that prudence and experience are usually prerequisites for wisdom and statesmanship. Stop looking for the new new thing. Stop looking for an Idol. Start demanding real accomplishment, not just splashy, ineffective PR stances.

August 15th, 2011 at 10:38 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Bad Economic Indicators
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

August 13th, 2011 at 5:07 pm
Perry Declares Candidacy for President

Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry announced his candidacy for President of the United States today during a speech in South Carolina.  Though the text of the speech is worth reading in its entirety, here’s my pick for the best line:

I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can.

If Perry’s campaign can reduce that sentiment to a bumper sticker, he might be able to sow up the GOP nomination by Labor Day.

August 12th, 2011 at 1:28 pm
11th Circuit Rules ObamaCare “Individual Mandate” Unconstitutional
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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled, correctly, that the “individual mandate” of ObamaCare is unconstitutional.  That stands to reason.  The Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution to ensure liberty through a federal government of strictly limited powers.  One aspect of that effort was to restrict federal authority to regulating actual “interstate commerce.”  But since ObamaCare’s individual mandate effectively declares that a citizen’s inactivity somehow amounts to “interstate commerce,” upholding ObamaCare would have rendered the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause meaningless.  Accordingly, it follows that if one explicit portion of the Constitution can thus be rendered meaningless, what would be the logical limit restraining government from declaring any other Constitutional clause meaningless at whim?

This is a moment for grateful celebration, even if only temporary.  The broader battle continues, eventually at the Supreme Court level.

August 12th, 2011 at 12:15 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Hillyer:  Against Bernanke’s Market Manipulations
Lee:  Do Recent Events Show the World Is Falling Apart, or Reaffirm Timeless Principles?
Ellis:  Liberals Can’t Tell the Truth About Social Security Funding
Senik:  Debt Crisis Reveals America’s Quarter-Life Crisis
Rep. Jeff Miller:  The Battlefield Cross

Freedom Minute Video:  The Nanny State: Coming to a Lemonade Stand Near You
Podcast:  “Stealing You Blind” – Interview with CEI’s Iain Murray
Jester’s Courtroom:  Dog’s Best Friend Seeks $11 Million

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

August 12th, 2011 at 11:59 am
Budget PROCESS Reforms

The reason Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan gave for begging off of the debt/budget “supercommittee” was because he wants to spend the fall trying to put together major reform of Congress’ budget process — the “how” of crafting the budget rather than the “what” of the budget, although of course the “how” has an absolutely huge effect on the “what.” While I really don’t see why Ryan can’t do both jobs — in fact, I think they should complement each other — it is absolutely admirable that Ryan is dedicated to procedural reforms. The process within Congress has been broken ever since liberals “fixed” it in response to President Nixon’s attempts to “impound” congressionally approved spending. The fix made the process overly complicated, and, despite its advertised aims, actually made it easier for spending to spiral out of control.

A number of thoughtful people have pushed (publicly or privately) budget-process reforms over the years, including two of the best congressmen of the 1990s, Bob Livingston and Chris Cox. In a future column (or several), I’ll gladly delve into the details of various ideas. For now, though, here’s what’s wrong: What was meant to provide multiple checks against overspending has instead created such a convoluted process that everything ends up dumped into mega-bills (“omnibus” legislation) or hurried, last-minute legislative action, or both at the same time. That, in turn, makes it more difficult for the public or for internal congressional budget hawks to discover, highlight, and defeat individual extravagances.

What happens now is that the Budget Committee provides a non-binding “resolution” in the spring with targets for spending within certain broad categories. The Ways and Means Committee handles policy on the major budget drivers, Social Security and Medicare. The Energy and Commerce Committee handles policy on Medicaid. “Authorizing” committees (Agriculture, Transportation, Armed Services, etcetera) handle policy questions on all sorts of federal programs, plus provide the spending parameters for those programs. But that authority doesn’t actually mean that the government, by law, will spend that money; such spending occurs (on discretionary, or non-entitlement, programs) only in an Appropriations bill. The Appropriations Committee, divided into 12 subcommittees, handles the actual spending bills, within the parameters set in the spring budget — if a budget actually has been passed, as by law it is supposed to be, but under the Democrats in the Senate has not been.

Got all that? That’s just the broad overview. The details are even more mind-numbing, and the process even more redundant than the overview would indicate.

In the end, the process should be streamlined, so that the triplicate overlapping of power between the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, and the authorizing committees (not to mention the Ways and Means and E&C power over entitlements) is condensed. One of those three spending-power centers should be stripped of that spending power.

Frankly, as a former press secretary for the House Appropriations Committee, I found the whole system idiotic. What might be a surprise is that I think the best answer might be to eliminate the Appropriations Committee altogether, and instead set up special appropriations subcommittees within each authorizing committee, making those new committees both policy-making and appropriations bodies, with the responsibility (which the authorizers don’t have now) of staying strictly within the overall budget limits for the agencies controlled by each. In short, I would strengthen the Budget Committee’s enforcement powers, while consolidating policy and appropriating within the same set of expert committees. Meanwhile, the legislative schedule would be altered to a far more achievable set of deadlines, ones that also better take into account Congress’ “district work periods,” or “recesses.” Finally, I would severely limit the August recess, allowing no more than 17 days, rather than nearly a full month. With the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, it doesn’t make sense to interrupt so much actual legislating for such a long time. If Congress wants more time “off,” well, then, it should get its work done earlier in September, rather than bumping up against (or beyond, as is usually the case) the Sept. 30 deadline. If all budgetary work is done before Sept. 30, as a result of taking a shorter August recess, then the reward should be time off at the end of September and/or beginning of October. Otherwise, tough luck.

But that’s just me. All sorts of other people have other ideas. Paul Ryan wants to look into all of this, and create a process that actually makes sense. Good for him.