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The deficit isn't a math problem – it's a rules problem

The new budget proposals underline an old Kane-ism: The deficit isn't a math problem. If it were, Congress would have solved it already.

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That said, I tend to view the process skeptically. A good friend on Capitol Hill laughs every time a commission is announced. There's simply no better way to play political dodgeball than to assemble a blue ribbon commission, which kicks the issue down the road a year or more. My own skepticism is rooted in one of the Kane mantras:

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The Budge Deficit isn't a Math Problem.

I once had a dream that I would come to Washington, DC and share my great ideas with the wise men and women in Congress. "Eureka!" they would reply. "Here is a Good Idea!" Time has solved that idealistic illusion. Congress knows the math. They can appreciate the many ways that 1 + 1 =/= 14,750,200,000,000 (the current U.S. GDP). If it were just a math problem, legislators would have solved it years ago. No, the addiction to a budget deficits is a Rules Problem. To solve it, the nation has to change the rules.

Loyal readers know that I believe the optimal rule change will be the national adoption of Constitutional amendments. Balanced budget. Max Tax. Spending Limits. Any one will do, but all three would be even better. But maybe other rule changes would work better, even faster. Some believe that statutory rules like Pay-Go (I recall Nancy Pelosi committing the House to that one) or Gramm-Rudman or shaking up the Committee assignments (HT Chris Edwards). Edwards also argues that a spending cap could be instituted legislatively. Maybe. But I don't trust the long-term viability of anything not carved in Constitutional stone, not with stakes this high.

Remember, the Constitution is not a living document. The Constituion is a written document, and those words have eternal meaning. I haven't lost that idealistic faith just yet.

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