Opinionated @ CFE

Seniority is a Liability

Jan
23

Whenever an incumbent is running for office, they will almost invariably turn to talk about how the length of time they have spent in that office as a means of proving that they know how to work things. You’ll see that same claim made at the federal, state, and local levels. Just as certainly, challengers will point to the length of service as a bad thing, a sign that they have made a comfortable career of what should be public service. Both of these sides have been going at it for years, but it looks like the pro-seniority side is starting to lose out.

One of the few positive things of the Tea Party crowd (and the members they are electing) is a vehement opposition to political elitism, including the practices associated with seniority. Instead of accepting that you have to outlast your peers to get your desired committee assignments, they have pushed for significantly more technocratic ways of committee selection based on ability. Senators like Rand Paul and Mike Lee (the latter of whom I have significant disagreements with) have managed to wield significant influence in the “deliberative” body of Congress despite being the new kids on the block.

So now that the influence of seniority isn’t as solid of an indicator of influence in the body, does it still have value? Not likely. Now that good ideas and ability are the currency of influence, being in office for a significant period of time without a significant list of accomplishments is a huge negative. Guys like Bennett, who seemingly accomplish little of what the general electorate cares for, get replaced by the brash go-getters who make things happen in short order.

Former State Sen. Dan Liljenquist accomplished two major reforms, state employee pensions and Medicaid, in just three years in office. Doesn’t this seem like the kind of guy who’d get things done in Washington? And, more importantly, don’t those seem like the right things to get done?

What I Expect From a Candidate for Federal Office

Apr
08

I very much enjoyed David Rodeback’s series of If You Want My Vote posts outlining his basic requirements of those running for local office. There’s a lot of sage advice in there for candidate and voter alike. In that spirit, I’d like to list a few things I want to see from candidates at the federal, state, and local level. There’s been way too many politicos insisting that “government” is some nebulous blob that’s the same all over. It’s not. Here’s what I want from anyone running for a federal office.

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A Summation of the Health Care "Reform" Bill

Mar
21

Dear Congressional Democrats,

After spending years talking about how evil insurance companies are, your “solution” to ever-increasing health care costsĀ  is to mandate that we do business with this “enemy” and give them a large chunk of taxpayer dollars. Every time you spread the meme that the Republican Party is nothing but a bunch of corporate shills, I hope they pull this one up to show that you’re just as bad as they are.

Sincerely,

A pissed-off taxpayer

P.S. Bob and I disagree on how to fix health care, but we agree that your bill sucks.

Raising Taxes And Fiscal Responsibility

Sep
28

Ever since Reagan, the unending call of conservatism has been to cut taxes and cut ’em deep. The theory is that with massive cuts in revenues, Congress would have no choice but to start cutting back on spending. What we saw through the Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II years is that the plan backfired. Instead of paring back on spending, Congress showed an incredible lack of willpower and whipped out the national credit card to make up the difference. Apparently the “starve the beast” approach didn’t work despite 20 years of White House policy enforcing it, so why are conservatives still marching behind it?

That’s the question that Bruce Bartlett asked last week in Forbes. Since huge deficits don’t make people call their Congresscritters and demand reductions in spending, perhaps raising taxes across the board to cover the increased cost of government largess would do it. Let me say right now with no qualification that we should all be expected to pay the full cost of the government services which we are receiving. If it can’t be paid for with taxes or savings, the money simply is not there to spend.

I know, it sounds like crazy talk, the same kind of crazy talk that President George H. W. Bush was talking in 1990 when he expended a mountain of political capital to institute PAYGO rules. These same rules were likely responsible for large balance-sheet surpluses in the 90’s. True to form, though, Congress used all of it and then some on increased spending leading to an even larger national debt. (Not much of a surplus if you ask me.) If this situation sounds rather recent and familiar, replace the word Congress with California legislature and you get an idea of how this story ends.

So what are we to do? It seems that there is an insatiable demand for increased services and decreased taxes from the citizenry and the federal government has been trying to placate both. I say raise taxes to pay for these services and see what happens. It can’t be any worse than saddling future generations with a debt costing many times what it does now and just maybe a few more people will be willing to give on their demands for government services.

The GOP's Senate Nomination Hijinks (or, Mark Shurtleff Learned to Speak Crazy)

Sep
18

As Attorney General, I think Mark Shurtleff has done an exemplary job. In fact, the only blunder of his I can see is failing to take action against Free “Capitalist” Rick Koerber based on evidence collected against him by the Department of Commerce. Unfortunately, this experience as a legal eagle hasn’t translated well into running for other elective office. In fact, his actions make him look like a political novice rather than a seasoned vet.

Honestly, Shurtleff’s actions smell a bit too much like pandering. He’s managed to very quickly attach himself to the TEA Party crowd, popping off quotes from Ronald Reagan at every opportunity (the irony being that Reagan greatly increased the national debt, but I digress). He takes every opportunity to slam Sen. Bob Bennett, his incumbent opposition, at every turn even when his slams don’t make a lick of sense. The fervor is not unlike that of a new convert to a cause, but that’s don’t make it any less obnoxious or annoying.

It seems that this is a problem with all of the people vying for the Republican nomination. They’re all talking up how they’re the “real conservative” in the race (whatever that means) and denouncing Bob Bennett for, well, anything he does that isn’t conservative by their incredibly narrow definition. These same people would likely call me a liberal or socialist over a few points of minutiae despite that we likely agree on at least 90% of the issues. That small and loud group seeking to purge heresy from the party is a primary reason why the Republican Party is in as bad a shape as it is.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one wise to how loony this all sounds. I still think Bob Bennett is due for retirement from public office, but we sure can do a lot better than the current crop.

I Want Health Care Reform. Too Bad I'm Not Getting It.

Sep
14

Insanity is, by definition, doing the same thing over and over again expecting entirely different results. Nowhere is this insanity more obvious than in the current health care reform proposals coming before Congress where the proposals look far too much like more of the same. We’re apparently going to be content with treating symptoms instead of coming up with a real cure.

Let me say right off that I fully acknowledge that the current course is not sustainable. Costs have been runaway for years and both the quality and availability of health care is in the pits. Acknowledging that there is a problem is just the first step. We need to understand why health care stinks before we can take any sustainable action.

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