Monkeywrenching Socialism – More inefficiency please

If we were more inefficient about passing spending legislation, the government would shrink and Congress would grow more powerful at the expense of the bureaucracy. States would also benefit as federalism is renewed. Take your average spending bill, let’s say the defense bill. In the interests of efficiency there are a number of programs that go on autopilot and just ride along, largely unexamined. These program lives are largely determined by the executive.

Instead of 1 bill, why not make it a thousand bills all dealing with much smaller subjects, ideally single line items? The system would have many advantages, not least of which the end of the disgusting practice of having vital spending held hostage, conditioned on passage of dubious items. Presidential vetoes would become meaningful threats.

A further advantage would be that the system would force Congressmen and Senators to prioritize. You pass important spending up front and the also-rans end up at the rear. When you run out of time at the end of the year, the least important spending automatically is zeroed out.

Executive departments end up having their very existence depending on the timely production of documents demanded by Congress. Stonewall Congress and you’re likely to find your program’s appropriation held up, perhaps to the end of the year and your own program’s budget death. Since the bills are pinpoint accurate, neighboring programs are not affected at all.

The system would also tend to push spending down to the state and lower levels. If there’s an issue that could possibly be handled by the states, it’s much safer there under this system. But 50 state competition provides its own check on state level socialism as some states refuse to go along and reap the benefits of increased in-migration and booming economies.

The only real challenge is how to elect a Speaker who would make the rule changes necessary to implement the system, forcing each Congressman to lay out their priorities, and illegalizing the practice of grouping spending items in mammoth bills that hide all sorts of chicanery.

7 thoughts on “Monkeywrenching Socialism – More inefficiency please”

  1. I think the whole idea of the spending legislation is that it gives lawmakers/politicians-in-active the opportunity to horse-trade among themselves on many small bills, the I-vote-for-your-district/state-and-you-vote-for-mine and so on.

    If you deal with only one bill at a time, you’ll take the fun away from the political game.

  2. Retardo – One of the great questions on the center-right right now is how to translate tea party energy into something that will change DC for the better. The rules are set within the 1st week of the Congress. Between election day and swearing in day the TPM has an opportunity to press newly elected Congressmen, especially freshmen, to vote for a rule reform bill that incorporates productive changes. This is one that I think is simple enough to be advocated by a mass populist movement in favor of smaller government.

    Jose Angel De Monterrey – Yes, horse trading would be made more difficult by this reform. This is a feature, not a bug.

  3. Acuvue Oasys – It sounds something very much like my dad would say so I understood it right off. The weakness of the plan is identified in very compact manner by Retardo, that it could be very much against the personal interest of legislators to adopt this plan and finding 218 votes for this to put in the House rules would be difficult at best. If we only had responsible legislators is a real weakness of my plan and thus, if only Retardo’s grandmother had wheels is his riposte.

    I agree that this plan does have that weak spot. The only thing that I can reply is that the GOP needs a tremendous, spectacular move to signal that they’ve turned their backs on their recent big spending ways. They also know how the script will play out if they try to shut down the government (that ended badly for the GOP in 1995). The novelty of this plan is that the GOP will be visibly seen as trying to spend their little hearts out but the rule will make the spending come slowly, in small chunks, and foreclose the option of the Washington Monument Syndrome where showy projects high on the people’s priority list are closed in preference to spending what funds are available elsewhere in order to create pressure for increased spending.

    If we have a GOP that is awake to the fact that the republic is in an existential crisis, they might make the sacrifice needed to run this strategy. That’s where the TPM would come in, during the November->January transition.

  4. “… the GOP needs a tremendous, spectacular move to signal that they’ve turned their backs on their recent big spending ways.” They haven’t. They want to get back into power and not change anything. They want their noses back in the feedbag. “If we have a GOP that is awake to the fact that the republic is in an existential crisis …” We don’t. Ask Trent Lott, he just wants the Tea Party idiots to shut up so the GOP can get a majority, and get the committee chairmanships, and get back to business as usual.

    The GOP is going to have to be taken over from within. And it is too late for 2010. The total failure I expect from the GOP following a likely House takeover in November, and the ensuing rage at their cowardince and stupidity, may finally put the fear into them that is needed to get a real change, and put energy into people who really want change to run in primaries and get elected in 2012.

    This idea may have legs for a Contract With America 2.0 — in 2012.

    This year they will win because the Donks blew it.

    But the GOP has learned absolutely nothing. And they will act, or mostly fail to act, accordingly.

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