Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Under the new budget director, former Iowa congressman Jim Nussle, the federal government is going green and frugal. No more pallets of budget books delivered to Capitol Hill. No more handing out copies to reporters -- most of whom, truth be told, didn't get any deeper into the Analytical Perspectives volume than did the lawmakers.The thing is, I cannot fathom anyone reading a 3.1 trillion budget who wouldn't react more seriously to its size and what is and isn't in there then whether it's printed or only available online. And frankly, a budget of this magnitude does not really need to include the expense of printing free copies for newspaper reporters who are more worried about having it as a status symbol than about reading it.
Instead -- except for those who choose to shell out $213 for a dead-tree set from the Government Printing Office -- the 2,200-page budget will be available only online. This switch to an e-budget, Nussle boasted, saves nearly 20 tons of paper, about 480 trees.
True, everything a budget geek could want is online. The ever-rosy Budget Message of the President. My favorite Historical Table, 15.1, "Total Government Receipts in Absolute Amounts and as Percentages of GDP: 1948-2007."
But it isn't the same as having the volume -- volumes, actually -- in hand, being able to flip through the tables, to see the columns neatly arrayed without having to scroll up or down to decipher the details. The hard-core budget wonks I checked with weren't having any of this e-budget, either.
Here's a DU thread to comfort the Republicans who aren't happy about McCain, because a poster presented a 25 point list of why the poster doesn't expect to be voting for Hillary. This is well-written and thoughtful, and deserves to be read. However I burst out laughing (at myself) when I reached reason 22:
22.) Clinton is not an agent of change. Actually, McCain is more deserving of the title. He's sold out to Bush and the Bush Republicans in order to get the nomination. However, in his real life as a Senator, he's been on the forefront of changing goverment in terms of campaign finance and decreasing the quid pro quo crony politics of earmarking and the like. She's going to have a hard time selling she's the agent of change when she refuses to stand up against lobbyists and earmarking abuse.I suddenly envisioned a McCain/Hillary match in which there was a huge swing-over vote from both parties to the other party's candidate.
This point struck me as being astute:
11.)She might (and that's a risky might) win the GE (although I don't know how she will pull off Florida and Ohio to be honest) but I don't see any equation where she will unite the country behind her. She has had 4 years of incumbency for the nomination and she can't even unite the Democratic party behind her. She has polled in the high 30's to the 40's since the straw polls of the primaries of 2004. She hasn't budged the needle out of the 40's her whole candidacy. She's ALWAYS been the odds on favorite to win this according to the MSM that has been coronating her for years. However, everytime someone drops out, most of the votes goes to who is left and not to her. She has a staunch core but she can't seem to recruit more. She was supposed to be coronated by now, but she's really just exposed the huge rift in our party. There's a vast RW conspiracy against her but there's also a vast LW conspiracy against her too. And that's because people don't like her, for whatever reason.This is true. What's amazing is that Obama is doing so well, because he is not, under normal nomination campaign circumstances, qualified even to be running. My personal belief is that the Clintons had enough pull to make the more experienced candidates get out of the running early on. The Clinton core strategists figured she would get the "coronation" on experience alone in comparison with some really inexperienced candidates. And now the Democratic party is in a situation in which it is quite likely that a very inexperienced candidate will go up against McCain.
Oh, and by the way, one of the replies sticks to the Rulebook of Rant:
98. You forgot to add that she's a woman, and you can't image a non-male sitting in the White House.I think 25 reasons deserve a bit more of an answer than that! The following comment made me laugh even harder at myself, but I think bears out some of the things I have been thinking:
68. I certainly cannot support her for several of the reasons you have stated, particularly points #5, #10 and #18. I'd rather take a chance on an unknown, however risky that might be, than risk my vote on a candidate who has definitely proved that she is untrustworthy.I wish Lieberman had run.
The right is frustrated and the left is frustrated by their options. Part of the reason is because a lot of us are demanding things that no candidate can realistically deliver. The other part is that we haven't had a really good policy debate in some time about what we could actually DO. Like it or not, fundamental changes in demographics alone would have to shift taxation policy, and there is a rather pressing issue of financial reregulation. It is not clear that Glass-Steagall won't have to be largely reinstated, and if it isn't, we are going to need more regulations and expanded or additional regulatory bodies to take care of the gap.
It's not that the country overall is a disaster with no hopeful prospects, it's that we fail to address our options. The pressure is building up, just like it was before Reagan got in. The accumulated effect of chasing rainbows hurts way more than the problems themselves. The right forgets entirely that Reagan succeeded largely because he was intent on dealing with some accumulated imbalances, and that in some cases, his approach was decidedly (gasp) liberal. One of his initiatives was to expand the earned income tax credit, for example.
The right forgets that "Saint" Reagan got the support not because he was so conservative, but because he actually combined some traits of old-fashioned Democrats with conservative principles to address very serious problems. And the left has built Reagan up into some comic-book villain, and thinks Bush is somehow his demon heir, while some Clinton adherents are really just agitating to have back a prosperity which was always ephemeral and cannot be reproduced. We cannot get out of this with another bubble, because we've run out of bubble money.
Conservatives can gush all as much as they want about welfare reform, but in order to accomplish it, in the end we had to spend more money on training, and extend more benefits, such as public-funded health care to support those who were trying to get off welfare, and change the rules to allow those on welfare to build up bank accounts, etc. We also had to recognize that some of those on welfare were people who simply could not work from disability or other causes, and concede that we would be supporting them for the rest of their lives. In the end, Congress came up with a somewhat realistic proposal which actually worked to improve lives.
Usually when we make political progress it's because we combine the best ideas and principles from the varying political wings together, rather than heading out to one wing or the other, and we do so because we really do have a pragmatic problem to address, and that problem has emerged over time due to an unthinking adherence to some political slogan.
The rest is history.
Outside of Al Gore, IMHO the field was thin this year so I don't see much of a conspiracy.
Speaking of History, I've started on a three volume set The Age of Roosevelt by Schlesinger. The first volume is "The Crisis of the Old Order". It reads as if we are repeating the period of time 1918-1933 in both economic and political aspects. For example there was a version of neoliberal economics that emphasized that markets were good and government was bad. There was unfettered financial speculation and during the red scare, not only were alleged reds rounded up but if a friend inquired at the police station if so and so had been arrested, the fiend was arrested because the inquiry indicated complicity. Sorta like the recent laws and presidential orders about terrorism. This is an old set, my copy right is 1957. OTOH, memories of the participants would be clear.
In any case, not much is new under the sun, just the way it happens.
Have thought for years, the only way is for the Smart Independents--Applied Logic & Cost efficiencies-- grouping to get together across this country for influencing or this country.
One way have been thinking might approach Lou Dobbs and submit specific govt. changes for a Poll Quest. then turning info. over to key Congr. Cmts. & Pres. office weekly.
For one small ex.to get more business like. Those idiots still transcribe every ___ word they say on the floor and then archive it for even more costs.
Didn't mean to sound trite. Just think that at least working on actual changes helps the sanity level for the rest of us.
A half to a million replying to a few poll questions
should inflluence for changing some things.
(only mentions L. Dobbs because he has a large audience and is Independent in approach.
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