Saturday, March 23, 2013

Patty's Murray's Failure As A "Parenting Teacher" Predicted Senatorial Failure

A joke that has circulated since Barack Obama first announced his candidacy in 2007 is based upon the fact that nowhere on his resume can one find the slightest hint that the man has the skills to run a lemonade stand. To be effective all jokes of this type must have their foundations raised upon a bedrock of truth. And this joke certainly satisfies that requirement.

But perhaps Barack Obama doesn’t deserve all the scorn. He has a lot of company. After all, as it turns out, the ironically misnamed “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body,” where he served his political apprenticeship, can’t even run a barbershop.

That’s right. For the last fifteen years, the Senate barbershop has required government bailouts averaging $350,000 annually. And if 100 of the self-anointed World’s Smartest People can’t even run a barbershop, how can we expect them to run a country?

For the last four years, they haven’t even tried. That’s how long it has been since the United States Senate has met its legal obligation to pass a federal budget. The first year that they neglected to pass a budget, 2010, it was pure political calculation. The Democrats feared that if there were an actual document that recorded their irresponsibility, the voters would never forgive them at the ballot box.

The Democrats got hammered in the midterm elections anyway, but they also learned a valuable lesson. The so-called fourth branch of government, otherwise known as the press, did not hold them accountable for abrogating their duty. Democrats learned that they could ignore their sworn obligations, without hearing a squeak of criticism from the press. 

As a consequence, they haven’t even made a gesture toward writing a budget until now.

After the previous Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, Kent Conrad, retired, Washington’s Patty Murray ascended to his position. Upon receiving the gavel, Murray was asked if she would break her party’s tradition and produce a budget. She refused to commit to it. It was clear that she had not sought the chair’s position because she felt any compunction to do the job. She simply viewed the mantel as a means to more efficiently reward her friends, if by friends you mean people who give her money.

Patty Murray has for years been one of the Senate’s most extravagant pork barrel spenders. And what better position to dispense pork to one’s pals than from the leadership of the Senate committee tasked with determining whose pockets the taxpayers’ money flows into.

Surprisingly, the GOPs shame campaign bore fruit and Patty Murray actually did a budget. But it’s such a shoddy piece of work that it even offended the Washington Post. In fact, the budget’s irresponsibility even provoked the scorn of the Washington Post’s most slavishly Democrat partisan pundit.

As the Post’s leftist wonk Ezra Klein points out, Patty Murray’s budget establishes massive federal deficits as a permanent part of the federal budget, something she describes as “sustainable.”

Klein complains that Murray treats every federal program as sacrosanct, and describes her budget as, “deeply, even excessively, respectful of existing institutions.”

The philosophical underpinnings of Patty Murray’s budget may be summarized as, “more of the same.”

The Post’s editorial board piled on a day later, criticizing Patty Murray for completely ignoring the elephant in the room, entitlements. Entitlements are those programs which are currently excluded from budget adjustments. These programs grow annually according to a mathematical formula that gives no consideration to the ability to pay the bill or if it even makes sense. It’s as though you decided twenty five years ago to attend one more professional football game annually.

The left wing Brookings Institution concluded that Murray’s budget put the US on a path that, under the most optimistic assumptions, would burden the US with a debt load double the historical average. That doesn’t sound especially sustainable to me.

The National Journal opined that Patty Murray’s star would rise or fall based upon her performance as Budget Committee chair. Based upon the early reviews, she has vindicated her dismissal from her job as a community college teacher, where she taught “parenting.”

How her degree in “recreation” prepared her for that job isn’t entirely clear, but it does provide fodder for an entire standup comedy routine.

Before Ms Murray tries to tackle something as grown up as authoring a federal budget, perhaps she should take a shot at setting the Senate barbershop on a sound footing.


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