Wednesday, May 04, 2005
What a sexy topic...budgets!
But seriously, this country's budget process is drastically flawed. Ed Kilgore has some thoughts on it here. But essentially the problem is simple: power.
Budgets are actually very short documents, see this year's for an example. The Budget Committee essentially sets upper limits for spending and then Appropriations Subcommittees get to decide how to divide up the cash. Because of this, Appropriations Subcommittees are disgustingly powerful. The Appropriation Subcommittee on Agriculture, for example, has only 13 members. Why would big farming interests bother giving money away to 435 House members when they could just give it to these 13? Hell, they could just give to the 8 Republicans on the subcommittee. What does this mean? The programs affected under the subcommittee's jurisdiction have to fight it out. This really means a fight between special interests. And as Kilgore points out, imagine what happens when you pit farm subsidies against food stamps? Yeah. If only people on the food stamp programs had dozens of top-notch lobbyists and hundreds of thousands of campaign cash to give away...
This is a seriously screwed up system that gives small groups with huge pockets disgusting amounts of control.
I basically have the month off to go home and then move away to Texas to start this whole career thing, but during that 40+ hours on the road I'll likely be wondering up some alternative to this nonsense. There's got to be a more democratic way of spending our money.