Friday, June 29, 2007

Budget Politics: Pot & Kettle

From a news story in the Washington Post:
"Democrats have pork spending on the menu for their grilling of Jim Nussle, President Bush's pick as White House budget director. Nussle's confirmation hearings will focus on the former congressman's pursuit of earmarks for Iowa, as well as ballooning deficits during his tenure as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The plan, Democratic strategists say, is to use the hearings to detail the collapse of fiscal discipline during the Bush administration and to grab the offensive from Republicans who are trying to turn the debate over Democratic spending bills into a morality play on thrift.

'We're not going to let these guys act like the protectors of fiscal prudence here when they've left a sea of red ink," said Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.)."
It seems to me that most of what Congress does these days fits the term "rent-seeking." As such, perhaps the very nature of the way Congress works involves "pork," and it really makes no difference whether the Democrat party or the Republican party controls Congress. Congress is Congress and "pork" pays for the vote trading that gets bills passed. (Of course, "earmarks" are an extreme version of what is called "pork," and it seems to me earmarks are a manifestation of Congressional corruption rather than part of the very nature of a legislature.) So, when I read the comment of the Democratic Caucus Chairman that "we're not going to let these guys . . . . .," it really seems to me that the Democrat strategy here is "the pot calling the kettle black." Can the pot calling the kettle black be an successful strategy? Given the rational ignorance of voters, the answer may be yes.

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