CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Columns

December 13, 2012

COMMENTARY: Raising federal revenue the Libertarian way

(Continued)

PAYGO was initially put in place by a divided government in 1990. It remained on the books until 2002, and is often associated with the elimination of deficits in the late 1990s. In 2010, PAYGO was reintroduced as part of a deal to increase the nation's debt limit. Unfortunately, the new PAYGO rule is riddled with exceptions. For instance, it doesn't apply to the U.S. Postal Service or Medicare provider reimbursements, and Congress can exempt any deficit-increasing bill from the restrictions by designating the legislation as a response to an emergency. Further, PAYGO is enforced by the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Office of Management and Budget, which in turn are responsible to the two branches of government that spend taxpayer money.

A PAYGO constitutional amendment, however, couldn't be altered or abolished on a political whim, would never sunset, and couldn't be evaded through statutory exemptions. Moreover, any violations of a PAYGO amendment would be addressable by the judicial branch, providing a check on the free-spending branches. A PAYGO amendment could thus serve as a powerful break on political tendencies to shift costs onto future generations.

The language of such an amendment would be the subject of negotiation, and this opens a can of worms. Given the ways Congress manipulates legislative wording, the amendment could be rendered ineffective. With this in mind, we propose the language be simple, straightforward and free of political exceptions.

The amendment should establish a special court with budget experts to handle cases of potential PAYGO violations. Leaving enforcement only with the CBO could expose its analysts to political pressure, because their estimates would have the potential to kill legislation. We imagine the special court might be petitioned to score legislation in advance of a bill's passage to keep the system from getting clogged up. And we imagine that the amendment would enable nonprofit good- governance groups to serve as watchdogs, filing complaints to the court as necessary.

Text Only
Columns
  • COMMENTARY: A break from the campaign rhetoric

    The collective sigh of relief felt throughout Cullman Wednesday morning signaled the end of another primary political season the previous night. As Wednesday’s Times headline told us, it was a clean sweep.

    July 21, 2014

  • Harris Coleman COMMENTARY: Billy Coleman, a true statesman

    King Solomon said, “Pride will ruin people, but those who are humble will be honored.” He also said, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Billy Coleman, the past elected superintendent of Cullman County Schools, is the living example of these wise statements of truth.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • COMMENTARY: Twisty road back to Cullman

    The young journalist who was somewhat listening to the elder newspaperman on the other side of the desk didn’t have a clue.

    July 19, 2014

  • Commentary: Why your Facebook friends are so gullible

    These stories aren't real. They're the work of the New Yorker's not-particularly-funny online satirist Andy Borowitz, but many people, not just your gullible Facebook friends, invariably believe them. Sometimes the official state news agencies of global superpowers believe them.

    March 19, 2014

  • OPINION: Who belongs in the delivery room?

    Should a father be allowed in the delivery room for the birth of his child, over the mother's objections? A New Jersey judge said no last November, in a ruling that was released in writing earlier this week.

    March 13, 2014

  • SLATE COMMENTARY: Should Detroit be allowed to issue its own visas to immigrants?

    Under the plan, immigrants coming to the U.S. under visas aimed at those with "advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in science, business or the arts" would be "required to live and work in Detroit, a city that has fallen to 700,000 residents from 1.8 million in the 1950s."

    January 29, 2014

  • COMMENTARY: Rules for babies in restaurants

    "Maybe Don't Bring Your Baby to a 3-Star Restaurant," Jezebel suggests, in response to a kerfuffle over a Chicago couple bringing their 8-month-old to the ultraexclusive restaurant Alinea because their babysitter canceled.

    January 17, 2014

  • WORKOUT-WEAR2.jpg COMMENTARY: Workout Wear Friday? No sweat, boss!

    People in fitness gear are more likely to exercise — or at least to think about it. So let's get everyone in comfortable, moisture-wicking outfits once a week to demonstrate our commitment to physical activity.

    January 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Undead and the Unborn

    In this season of ghosts and ghouls, we seem to respect the undead more than the unborn. How unfortunate. Witness the popularity of television programs featuring blood sucking vampires and walking corpses, while in Texas, a new provision making it difficult for women to get an abortion is immensely unpopular. How unbelievable.

    November 28, 2013

  • Google Is Google wrecking our memory?

    Is the Internet ruining our ability to remember facts? If you've ever lunged for your smartphone during a bar argument, then you've no doubt felt the nagging fear that your in-brain memory is slowly draining away.

    September 27, 2013 1 Photo