Who wants to cut government spending?

Via Kevin Drum, here is the report:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was asked to be an appropriator and said thanks, but no thanks. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a tea party favorite, turned down a shot at Appropriations, which controls all discretionary spending. So did conservatives like Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an ambitious newcomer who will lead the influential Republican Study Committee.

….”Anybody who’s a Republican right now, come June, is going to be accused of hating seniors, hating education, hating children, hating clean air and probably hating the military and farmers, too,” said Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), a fiscal conservative who is lobbying to become chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “So much of the work is going to be appropriations related. There’s going to be a lot of tough votes. So some people may want to shy away from the committee. I understand it.”

Kingston said he’s approached Bachmann, King and Westmoreland about the committee, and they all told him they weren’t interested.

In equilibrium, is this a sign that spending cuts are likely or unlikely?


Hypocrisy: politicians run on a campaign of change and voting for the people and the good of the country, yet no one wants a job that forces them to make difficult choices or be unpopular.

How is this any different than hiring a person for a job? Check their qualifications, personality, references, etc. Hire the best and let them do the job they're qualified for.

Does that imply that special interests and approval ratings are the real employers in Congress?

So sickening and tiresome.

In equilibrium, is this a sign that spending cuts are likely or unlikely?

No...just another proof of republican (aka tea party) hypocrisy. They are not interested in reducing deficit...just interested in power. In short - power hungry hypocrites.

An alternative to hypocrisy:

You have to spend several terms to make a difference as a representative. Reps who serve on the Appropriations Committee *this year* are screwed in the next election. Rational, budget-cutting representatives will thus forego serving on the appropriations committee right now, sacrificing short run minor gains for long run major gains.

You have to factor in the electoral cost of incorrectly being called a hypocrite by short-sighted armchair analysts, though.

Unlikey, assuming true and not trivial.

I take this as all those who precommitted to spending cuts avoiding the levers of cost cutting power, handing them to those who are not precommitted to cuts.

I mention that it may be trivial simply because of the opacity of the committee selection process - who knows what the source who leaked this was trying to do, and who knows how many "invitations to my committee" are pro forma and expected to be declined. For example, maybe these guys have other, better plans (personally I doubt it, but hey).

Unlikely. If they were likely, reps would know they were going to vote for cuts on the floor, so would be willing to do so in committee as well in order to be seen a a leader/mover shaker.

If true, these folks are misreading the electorate. Cuts are inevitable. We all know it. Those who make them and do so equitably and above board will be rewarded at the ballot box. Look at Chris Christie. We are going to learn a lot about many in the next two years.

Ed (at 2:49:47) you make an interesting point about the demographics of Republican congressional districts. Do you have the data to back this up? I would be surprised if agricultural districts did not have their share of GOP reps.

It is only cliche that every government agency becomes a self-replicating monster that only becomes bloated and more powerful. It continually justifies its existence by expanding its mission set (i.e. warfare state: someone has to protect the coast of Africa for European and Asian shipping companies) or just has a critical mass of people that it cannot be reduced.

"Ed (at 2:49:47) you make an interesting point about the demographics of Republican congressional districts. Do you have the data to back this up? I would be surprised if agricultural districts did not have their share of GOP reps."

No, I don't have data, and alot of GOP Congressmen are elected from districts that receive large amounts of agricultural money, military money, or have higher than average numbers of seniors. Plus somewhat more federal spending winds up in the red states than blue states.

But what I was thinking of was some mostly residential suburb in the Midwest with little poverty and no military presence. These places elect Republicans to Congress. Both Boehner and Bachman represent these sorts of places, as did Hastert. They return about a third of the caucus and keep the party from becoming a Southern regional party.


Now what's good for GM is communism, so we definitely need a new slogan.

Maybe the democrats should have won then, huh?

Pushing Jeff Flake for the committee? One of the most fiscally responsible republicans on the committee? I don't see how that can be a bad thing.
Also, the problem isn't new discretionary spending right now so much as non-discretionary spending, so likely they are angling for spots on the budget committee.

I agree with Rich Berger. There is not enough information here to determine the motives of a particular representative vis a vis service on a particular committee. We don't know what their preferred committees are or why.

We also don't know the motivations of the people OFFERING the positions. Often, a political trap is disguised as an opportunity.

I also agree with Doc Merlin: the real fiscal problems and tough choices are with non-discretionary spending.

It seems the partisan posturing has already begun, battle lines are being drawn, and talking points being written. We'll read this on Daily Kos, HuffPo, and MSNBC within a day or so.

Six Ounces, "within a day or so.", you underestimate how quickly the regurgitation happens on the inter-web. See who Drum links to with his first word.

They're just having fun: “For any politician, cutting is not as fun as spending,” said Bob Livingston

Are you defending your non-partisanship by attacking people based on party affiliation?

Are you familiar with many politicians who a) give specifics even to dollar values, b) fulfull half their promises?

The orthodox left playbook is:
a) Accuse the opponent of hare-brained ideological rigidity, then pounce on any deviation from the strict ideology
b) play the ruthless realist political game themselves, and then accuse the opponent who exercises the slightest political pragmatism.

Frame your opponent into your rules, then beat him by playing outside the box.

Brad is factually wrong anyway. Trivial search on the subject, "tea party cuts", yields first result: "Tea Party favorite Rand Paul pushes budget cuts for Social Security, Medicare and defense", "including a 10% pay slash for federal workers."

Now Brad will shift to a new argument, saying "This is only one Tea Party leader, not significant", or "These are just words, they won't try to do anything", or "This is still not specific enough". It never will be.

The sinister wants you to go waste more time with deeper searches, where he neglected the most trivial, despite his serious interest in the subject. If I exhaust his factoids with detailed analysis, he will say it is a complex issue to which we can come to no real conclusion, and in the end they always resort to "Agree to disagree", "That's just your opinion, no opinion is better, except I prefer mine", or he'll just ignore and disappear.

The ship of the economy is awash in a sea of debt. The ship's pumps don't work anymore. It is headed into a hurricane and the rocks are just ahead. And we worry about who is going to cut spending? Let's hope there is something left to cut....There really is no choice. But people like to shoot the messenger.

Westmoreland has been in Congress since 2004 and is one of the reddest districts. His biggest claim to "fame" is on Stephen Colbert.

Is it really hyperpartisan to point out the GOP has a lack of real ideas? The only serious effort I can think of was from Paul Ryan, and the usual suspects aren't exactly holding up the plan as an example of what needs to be done. Mostly we're getting platitudes about eliminating waste, fingerwagging about earmarks, and on the rare occasion when someone asks for specifics, lots of hemming and hawing. Which translates into a lack of ideas. That isn't hyperpartisanship so much as truth.

And really, it makes little political sense to come out with proposals that make the GOP look like the Grinch who stole Christmas at this point. I'm guessing the GOP is hoping the economy remains stagnant just enough until 2012, when it could be used against Obama.

"The only serious effort I can think of was from Paul Ryan, and the usual suspects aren't exactly holding up the plan as an example of what needs to be done"

Well, it looks like he is being given chairmanship of the budget committee, and will be on the committee for ways and means, subcommittee on oversight, and subcommittee on health. Putting him as chair of the budget committee is about as close you can get to having him in charge of the non-discretionary spending as he can get.

Nobody wants tough choices. I saw Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) on WTTW (local PBS). She's on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction task force and was asked to comment on their trial balloon.

She spent almost the entire interview repeating "can't cut Social Security" -- really never addressing how she things we can get anywhere. Her answer to everything was "can't cut Social Security". It was an embarrassing performance.

Any potentially worthy congressional leader who is serious about leading the country back onto stable fiscal ground would be EAGER to serve on the appropriations committee. That strikes me as inescapable.

All potentially worthy citizens who are seriously concerned about our nation's current unstable fiscal state should be prepared to identify worthy congressional leaders on fiscal issues. And we should be willing to do so without regard for party affiliation, and without getting bogged down in squabbles about which party is better suited to deliver.

It's quite clear neither party is able to focus on acting, only on promising and getting elected, and then re-elected. But we can hope that some small group of true leaders committed to fiscal responsibility can emerge, if we show sustained support.

I just wanted to point out how funny it was that the debate was so focused around spending cuts in a country which has one of the few smallest relative tax burdens in the developed world.

Couldn't help it.

I'll consider an alternative to the Dems when I have an alternative major party to vote for that is not evil.

Awfully difficult to fix things if people are willing to vote for the least evil party.

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