Sunday, April 19, 2015

Republicans wrong on Term Limits and Balanced Budget Amendment.

If you ask conservatives who regularly read this site and other more liberal bloggers, you'd think we were partisan or something. But really, this and other sites continue to suggest solutions, instead of just whining about the problem.

Two guys who have been right on so many levels, Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, took a look at a few "solutions" from the right will only make things worse. There take on "term limits" is the one that stands out. Dumb Ron Johnson recently said in an interview that Mitt Romney told him how he would only be president one term, get what he wanted done, and move on. That didn't sit well with me, and Mann and Ornstein's trashing of term limits explains why:
We’ve all heard the laments — we’ve made some of them ourselves — that Washington is broken. Here are (some) much-praised solutions we should avoid:
Term limits will save us: Term limits, we’re told, would replace them with citizen-lawmakers who cared less about reelection and more about acting on behalf of their fellow citizens — thus restoring Congress to its intended role as the citadel of deliberative democracy.

Does it work? Instead of channeling ambition in the right, public-interest direction, term limits have the opposite effect: New lawmakers immediately begin planning for ways to reach the next level, or to find lucrative lobbying jobs when they are term-limited out. They have no incentive to do things for the long-term and no regard for maintaining their own institutions. With the loss of expertise among senior lawmakers, power devolves to permanent staff members and to lobbyists.
The magic of a Balanced Budget Amendment:
Another hardy perennial … After all, 49 states have such an amendment in their constitutions, so why not Washington?
In fact, the states’ balanced budgets are the best reason to avoid one at the federal level. When a downturn occurs, basic economic theory tells us that we need “counter-cyclical” policies to inject adrenaline into a fatigued economy — meaning more government spending and/or lower taxes. States do the opposite: A downturn means less revenue and more demands from unemployed residents … The fiscal drag from states in the recent Great Recession amounted to $800 billion, which the Obama administration’s stimulus plan barely offset. A federal balanced-budget amendment would only have aggravated the downturn — the economic equivalent of bleeding an anemic patient.

Maintaining fiscal flexibility is critical in the American political system, particularly in a globalized economy where less and less of our destiny is under our control. And the experience of the 1990s demonstrates that the White House and Congress together can take the steps needed to balance the budget under existing rules. 

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