Sunday, July 26, 2009
Blow #3 to Orszagism in 24 hours: David Broder--who as Lucianne notes will surely be one of the first the Juiceboxers send to the ice floe-- notices that what Peter Orszag's proposed Medicare cost-cutting panel is designed to get around is ... the ordinary practice of representative democracy . The Independent Medicare Advisory Commission, or IMAC, isn't ( yet) as undemocratic as, say, the Fed: As drafted, IMAC's recommendations could be blocked by either the President or the Congress (two-house veto required). But they'd have to accept or reject the package of reforms as a whole, in the manner of the famous base-closing commission. ...
Hmm. Why isn't a base-closing style commission the solution to every one of our problems? After all, it's logical that the problems our peculiar system of government-- featuring a Congress that gives powerful voice to regional and local interests-- hasn't yet solved will be precisely the problems that our peculiar system of government is almost incapable of solving. Otherwise they would have been solved already! The solution is a quick suprise switch to a different system of government, featuring powerful judge-like bureaucrats subject only to a broad legislative veto. Trouble imposing energy caps? Base-close it! An Independent Carbon Advisory Commission! If the Midwest objects, let them try to overturn it. Heh, heh. ... Tax code riddled with loopholes? An independent Loophole Closing Commission, empowered to recommend any changes in the tax code as long as they don't result in the collection of less revenue. Immigration? A Comprehensive Regularization Commission, empowered ... well, you get the picture. Always be Base-Closing.
It's not crazy. The Constitution created an unwieldy system--requiring that every law pass two houses and get approved by the President--that we long ago concluded was incapable of generating the quantity of binding laws a modern society needs. The response was the creation of the administrative state--the "unelected fourth branch of government" that writes enforceable rules subject to nobody's veto (except the lawyers and the courts). At least the base-closing solution grounds the outcome in the consent of elected officials.
But like Broder, I wonder, in the health care case and others, whether the Base-Closing route is a politically shrewd or, as they say, "sustainable" course. OMB Director Orszag's ridicule of a Democratic Congresswoman who wanted to protect oxygen suppliers in her district may play will with reporters from the Wall Street Journal . But how well will it play with Congresswomen? ... 11:20 P.M.