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1 Achilles Tang  Mon, Jul 25, 2011 5:42:50am

Sent:

Dear Congressman,

I am not the only person who understands that raising the debt limit now is unrelated to future budget issues.

I don’t know why the Democrats have not made your party’s lies more clear, but I do know that if you destroy my retirement by causing my investments to lose value and my interest rates to rise, it will be no different than taxing me to death.

Even if I am poorer, I can still vote and I will have more time to make sure no Republican is elected again.

2 simoom  Mon, Jul 25, 2011 9:55:01am

Time to dust off the Gephardt rule?

[Link: www.theatlantic.com…]

The current debt ceiling fracas stems from one thing, and it’s not spending. It’s the pointless, silly, and potentially very costly, two-step process by which the United States, and no other country, goes about budgeting and spending money. First, Congress passes a budget resolution that determines how much will be spent. Then it raises the debt ceiling to accommodate that spending. The fight now is being driven by Republicans, and some Democrats, who don’t want to do the second part, even though the spending decisions have already been made. I’ve likened the issue to having dinner in a restaurant and then haggling over the check. But given the tenor of our politics, a more apt analogy might be bulimia. First dinner, then…

Well, anyway. The obvious question is, why have two steps? Why not just agree that the debt ceiling will rise to accommodate what Congress agrees to spend? After all, decisions about spending should be hashed out in the budget. That’s the point of having them. Breaking the process into two steps only creates the possibility of default, which would harm everyone.

Gephardt realized that the easiest way to fix the problem and impose some rationality on the process, was to do away with the second vote. He consulted the parliamentarian. “I asked if there was a way that when we pass the budget [the debt ceiling] can be deemed ‘raised’ to accommodate the budget people are voting for,” Gephardt said. “He said, ‘Yeah, we think we can work that out.’”

Thus was born the “Gephardt rule.” For a period thereafter, the adoption of the conference report on the budget resolution would trigger the Gephardt rule and “deem to have passed” legislation raising the debt limit to accommodate the spending and revenue levels approved in the budget. Presto! Problem solved.

It didn’t last. When Republicans took back the House in 1995, they brought back the second vote as a way to pressure members on spending. “They actually wavered back and forth,” Gephardt recalled. “Sometimes they’d use the budget procedure to wave it through, and then other times they’d require the vote. It’s silly because it’s just grandstanding. David Obey used to call it posing for holy pictures. It’s a facade; it’s not real. If you’re real, you vote for budgetary and spending decisions that would balance the budget. If that’s what you want, that’s what you should do. That’s the operative vote. That’s where the money is spent.”


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