The Looming Catastrophe House Republicans Willingly Ignore

- July 13, 2024
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If you want to combat , there are a lot of things you shouldn't do and trust that it'll keep the bad guys off balance.

For example, gun control.

by Tom Knighton, Bearing

Terrorist networks can get around any anti-gun restriction you care to throw at people. They can move personnel and munitions across the globe with relative ease, so they'll bypass all the restrictions you want.

Look at attacks such as we've seen in Paris or Mumbai, for example. Neither of those were.

As official Washington turns to the defense budget and the possibilities it holds for sneaking additional billions of new spending into pet congressional causes and crusades, there is little discussion of what should be done about the spending left off the table.

Which means the big ticket items – the so-called “mandatory” spending programs that include , and the other line-item no one really wants to grapple with, interest on the federal debt.

There are those who assure us none of these items matter, everything's awesome, move along.

While such handwaving has its allures, for apologists of the state, for the rest of us, those items are a genuine concern. Except in official Washington, which is excellent at pretending problems don't exist right up to the moment they become crises.

What, then, might we do to address those parts of mandatory spending and the White House chose to ignore? The Tax Foundation's William McBride has a few suggestions, including what sounds a lot like a variation upon the military base closing commission:

As a meaningful next step, lawmakers should convene a fiscal commission to grapple with long-term budgetary challenges, something that was last tried in 2010 with the Simpson-Bowles Commission. A fiscal commission comprised of budgetary experts selected on a bipartisan basis would provide a space for tough budget decisions outside of the political pressures that make real discussion of budgetary alternatives and trade-offs impossible. The recommendations of the commission should then be put to an up or down vote in Congress.

It, indeed, sounds a lot like (BRAC). BRAC was one of those rare successes in Washington. Its panel of presidential appointees identified unnecessary military installations for closure. The president had his say on the list, then forwarded it to Congress…which could approve or reject the entire list.

It led to the closure of numerous bases and facilities that were no longer necessary, too costly to maintain or inadequate for current military needs. Congress hated it. So much so that it refused to renew BRAC in 2014. There hasn't been a base closure since.

Applying such an all-or-nothing commission approach to mandatory spending isn't without its constitutional challenges and profound political concerns. As McBride notes:

…for a fiscal commission to be successful, it needs to be statutory, so the administration and members of Congress have buy-in to the process. That, of course, means elected officials need to first acknowledge the scale of the problem and be willing to engage with solutions. Most likely, elected officials will be spurred to action due to pressure from voters, who will become less and less thrilled with the prospect of high and increasing debt levels, “higher for longer” inflation and interest rates which are clearly connected to escalating deficits and debt, and the attendant sluggish economic growth.

That's the biggest hurdle of them all. There is a constituency for every dollar Congress spends. Some of them more organized, vocal and politically important than others. But in the end, these constituencies (none dare call them special interests) all share a common aim: keeping their particular piece of the federal pie safe from everyone and everything else.

Until voters are willing to confront and overcome those constituencies, nothing of real substance will change on the mandatory side of the spending problem.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of American Liberty News.

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