A Grand Bargain?
Posted on July 20, 2011I love when the Senate comes up with a grand bargain. It gets all the Washington insiders excited. The pundits love grand bargains. The media goes crazy over grand bargains.
I remember when the Senate came up with a grand bargain on immigration a couple of years ago. Ted Kennedy and John McCain came together to hammer out a comprehensive approach to fixing our borders and allowing illegal immigrants to apply for citizenship. Mel Martinez (a good guy and my wife’s former boss) went around town talking about how they were going to jam this agreement through the House.
The House balked on immigration and my guess is that they will balk on this latest grand bargain.
It is rare that the Senate can completely jam the House on issues as big as entitlement spending and taxes. As much as it might disdain the lower body, under our Constitution, the Senate cannot unilaterally impose laws without getting the House to pass them too.
Now, on the merits, I think a grand bargain sounds grand.
I agree with the President that we have a unique opportunity to do some common-sense things to cure our debt problems.
Here is what I think we should do:
We should repeal all of the spending from Obama’s stimulus plan and put the budget baseline back to 2008 levels. We should stop any new funding to pay for Obamacare.
We should let the Bush tax cuts expire.
We should make some tweaks to Social Security to slow the future increases in the cost of living adjustments. We should increase the contributions to Medicare to track those contributions with what people contribute to Social Security. We should block grant Medicaid back to the states. We should means test all entitlement programs.
We should legalize marijuana and internet poker and collect taxes from those activities.
We should get out of Afghanistan and Iraq and stop trying to rebuild those countries with our money.
We should commit a quarter of a trillion dollars to a new space program and other basic science programs over the next 20 years. We should commit another quarter of a trillion dollars to research into Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease over 20 years, so that we can help old people live more productive and better lives until the end.
We should spend less money on stupid things and more money on smart things. We should give less money to people who don’t need it and invest more money on things that help everybody.
We shouldn’t make politicians walk the plank on taxes when we have a law already in place that will cure our revenue problem.
This is my grand bargain. And like the Senate grand bargain, it has no chance of passing the House.
I love grand bargains. Doesn’t everybody?