11 March 2013

Breaking the Congressional Commitment to Dysfunction (on budgets anyway)

I could understand a standoff in Congress over, say, war or abortion. You can't sort of be at war or sort of legalize abortion. Those are all or nothing propositions and it would make sense that opposing sides would reach a stalemate, unable to move forward on negotiations. But budgets? Really?

10 year old kids know that if somebody wants to buy something that another person wants to sell, you negotiate. You want $20 but I only want to pay $10? We compromise on $15. Numbers lend themselves to averages, to middle ground.

For two sides to be unable to negotiate a budget requires a serious commitment to obstinance or a genuine belief that the folks on the other side of the negotiating table are either stupid or evil.

I say that each of the 435 members of Congress put numbers into a spreadsheet that they share with their constituents as "their budget." Congress then simply adds together all these budgets and then sends the averages off to the Senate (who has perhaps done the same thing to arrive at their budget). Negotiations ensue and no three or four powerful or stubborn congresspeople have any more power than anyone else in Congress. Then, no matter how committed you may be to what other folks would consider madness, your influence would only be .25% - a quarter of a percent. If the idiots still get to define the budget in that system than we’ll know it’s only because – on average – congress and their constituents are idiots. And for all the ranting about Americans and their Congress, I just don’t think that’s the case.

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