Chris Saxman: The Holy Grail/Gang of Six Edition

The oldest child is set to leave for college in 32 days – *sniff*

My academic recollection from the freshman fall of 1983 is the Monty Python classic movie “The Holy Grail”. Ah, memories. *sniff* One does not develop a working knowledge of such a piece of cinematic brilliance by watching it in a single sitting. Two dozen viewings should not be considered a waste of time as that film skewers most governing political systems and the dialogue must, must mind you, be submitted to memory.

If you have never seen “The Holy Grail”, go now. If you have, please enter the hard drive portion of your brain and ask yourself – just what is the Holy Grail of the United States federal government?

If you answered – money – you are warm. If you answered – spending money – you are getting warmer. If you answered – spending Other People’s Money – you hit that out of the ballpark!

OPM. Other People’s Money.

John’s going to Las Vegas. Before he leaves for the airport, John’s next door neighbor says “Man, I wish I was going to Vegas! You lucky duck! Here’s $250, please play roulette and put it all on red for me. Okay? John takes the money and says “Not a problem – good luck!” John arrives home and his neighbor runs out and asks, “Hey, did I win?” John says “Sorry buddy, you lost. But you had a great steak dinner!”

Oh the view one has of money that one has not earned.

Enter the Gang of Six – Senators Warner (Va), Durbin, Crapo, Chambliss, Coburn and the one I can never remember….Fonzarelli, I think. Anyway, these senators saw the train wreck coming and ordered in some pizza and beer and went to work.

Today the Grand Poobah of the Loyal Order of O.P.M, Barack Obama, blinked and said he supported the Gang of Six plan. This is not a cave, this is a blink. There’s a difference. Blinking means admitting that he had nothing to offer himself so he might as well start with this thing. Not bad since we are at 14 days and counting. Strong. Leader.

I read the executive summary of the GOS plan and I have to admit that I have about 23% understanding of it. It is a substantive policy submission; however, most of it is comprehensible by DC policy wonks and ONLY DC policy wonks.

But it’s a start. The negotiations have begun. The Senate must first actually write up a bill, have it scored by CBO, pass it and send it over to the House for probable, hopefully, amending. Then it goes back to the Senate for acceptance or rejection of the House amendments. A likely committee of conference is appointed and final negotiations occur.

In the mean time, the fundraising industry of DC will be in hyper drive. Every piece of the bill will be used by the affected entities to apocalyptically pronounce the end of the Earth’s rotation which will only be alleviated by a $50 donation which will also get you their latest policy report.

By August 2nd, several things will have occurred. The debt limit will be increased. Some taxes will be raised and some will be lowered. Crisis will be averted. Calmer heads will prevail.

But still.

This should never have gotten to the point at which we are actually thinking that the full faith and credit of America is suspect to the whims of the political machinations of those who seek to govern with the singular philosophy of “See, I Told You So.”

Many hysterical op-ed writers will get the vapors over how X or Y principle has been unalterably compromised. Nothing will be compromised away.

It will be negotiated.

Think about it. How many times to you go to buy something thinking “I am going to compromise to get what I want.”? You don’t. You think, rightfully, that you want to win the negotiations.

Winning, duh.

Who is going to win this show down? The side that first declares victory.

Republicans are still in the minority in DC. They are outnumbered 2 to 1 – President and Senate to House. Political Science is math. They have the advantage.

The GOP have taken this as far as they can. They should amend the bill or start their own that BEGINS the multi year path to balancing a budget that has not been passed in 812 days. If you really think the Democrats are going to cave but so much, you are smoking crack. They have the numbers.

Take what can. Declare victory. We have a lot of work to do in the future. Go Home. Win the Senate and the Presidency. If they want to play chicken with an economy that is creeping back into recession by even thinking about playing roulette with the full faith and credit of the United States, then they will forfeit any chance of future successes.

We didn’t get into this mess overnight and it won’t be solved in the next fortnight.

Let’s keep the momentum toward fiscal sanity going. Declare victory. Show the American people you can make progress. Repeat.

Right now, as in the Holy Grail, Camelot is a silly place.

It’s only a model.

Cold Fusion Holy Grail prediction – for the same reason that the NFL season will start soon – there is too much money and power for a deal NOT to be done. The difference with the NFL and DC? In the NFL, it’s either the owners or the players money. In DC? It’s OPM – so this thing will go down to the wire.

Set your office pools for a July 31st or August 1st for a budget deal to get done. NFL practices will have started several days before.

Other People’s Money.

Column by Chris Saxman



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