BRAC The Deficit

The combined magnitude of our economic and fiscal problems dwarfs any of the politically sticky problems we've faced in the past, and our situation is complicated in ways past crises were not. Tough times call for a new mechanism for achieving the large spending cuts necessary to avoid an economic collapse. Fortunately, a successful model exists for making difficult cuts.

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission process was created by Congress to deal with the politically sensitive problem of shuttering domestic military installations.  After public comment and review, BRAC reports accepted by the President are deemed approved by Congress unless rejected within 45 days.  While still maintaining ultimate control, Congress has passed the buck in a responsible way, closing more than 350 facilities to date.  The sixth BRAC report is scheduled for 2015 -- BRAC continues to provide cover for politicians demanding sacrifice.

BRACs offer us the hope that politically sensitive policies can actually be implemented.  And BRACs give us the ability to act both precisely and massively -- they are the legislative equivalent of the neutron bomb.

Separate BRACs can be established to address all aspects of our government's 100-year war against free enterprise and individual liberty: tax credits and subsidies, entitlements, resource leases, asset sales, welfare, labor law, government employee pensions, business regulations, environmental regulations, taxation -- virtually the entire panoply of federal edicts and expenditures.

Our recent experience with Barack Obama's non-binding 'deficit commission' points to the need for BRACs.  Most of their recommended spending cuts were dismissed by legislators, generally because they considered the cuts unduly painful and unfair.  None of the commission's recommendations appear to be incorporated in the President's new budget introduced yesterday. A more realistic plan would presumably have been subjected to even greater derision and more rapid and rabid dismissal.  The deficit commission experience frames the overall problem clearly, as cruel irony: the more credible a solution is, the less likely it is to be supported by our representatives -- assuming they sense that they might be 'blamed' for it.

Even if conservatives gain seats in 2012 and capture the White House, there is little guarantee that they will be able to do enough to save us from stagnation and debt servitude.  The democrats seem to be doubling down on everything, and may retain the ability to filibuster.

The House should propose a raft of BRACs now, and use their leverage in the upcoming debt-limit debate to secure them.  If the President opposes BRACs, Congress must be ready to act on them in early 2013, and BRACs should be a central part of the 2012 election campaign.

For BRACs to be effective, guidelines should include the following:

1. The party makeup of each BRAC commission should reflect the congressional division of power.

2.  A simple majority commission vote should send each proposal to Congress for an up or down vote.

3. The Senate should adopt special orders which exclude the use of the filibuster when considering BRAC proposals.

4. Rejecting a BRAC commission report should trigger a legislative poison-pill backup.  If a report is rejected by Congress, or by the President, they would be required to propose their own measures which achieve the BRAC commission's targets, then offer the legislation for an up or down vote. 

President Obama will see BRACs as a threat to his ideology, but he has proven to be feckless, and is daily less capable of shaping opinion.  Reality has left him behind; he clings to what amounts to little more than rank gamesmanship. The more astute and practical leftists already know that the jig is up, and will embrace BRACs.  BRACs offer the left a chance to share credit for successes, and possibly postpone the complete repudiation of liberalism.

Hypothetically, Americans still retain the power to salvage our country's future.  But the logical next question still remains unanswered: Can we can find a way to actually exercise that power?  Bring on the BRACs. 
The combined magnitude of our economic and fiscal problems dwarfs any of the politically sticky problems we've faced in the past, and our situation is complicated in ways past crises were not. Tough times call for a new mechanism for achieving the large spending cuts necessary to avoid an economic collapse. Fortunately, a successful model exists for making difficult cuts.

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission process was created by Congress to deal with the politically sensitive problem of shuttering domestic military installations.  After public comment and review, BRAC reports accepted by the President are deemed approved by Congress unless rejected within 45 days.  While still maintaining ultimate control, Congress has passed the buck in a responsible way, closing more than 350 facilities to date.  The sixth BRAC report is scheduled for 2015 -- BRAC continues to provide cover for politicians demanding sacrifice.

BRACs offer us the hope that politically sensitive policies can actually be implemented.  And BRACs give us the ability to act both precisely and massively -- they are the legislative equivalent of the neutron bomb.

Separate BRACs can be established to address all aspects of our government's 100-year war against free enterprise and individual liberty: tax credits and subsidies, entitlements, resource leases, asset sales, welfare, labor law, government employee pensions, business regulations, environmental regulations, taxation -- virtually the entire panoply of federal edicts and expenditures.

Our recent experience with Barack Obama's non-binding 'deficit commission' points to the need for BRACs.  Most of their recommended spending cuts were dismissed by legislators, generally because they considered the cuts unduly painful and unfair.  None of the commission's recommendations appear to be incorporated in the President's new budget introduced yesterday. A more realistic plan would presumably have been subjected to even greater derision and more rapid and rabid dismissal.  The deficit commission experience frames the overall problem clearly, as cruel irony: the more credible a solution is, the less likely it is to be supported by our representatives -- assuming they sense that they might be 'blamed' for it.

Even if conservatives gain seats in 2012 and capture the White House, there is little guarantee that they will be able to do enough to save us from stagnation and debt servitude.  The democrats seem to be doubling down on everything, and may retain the ability to filibuster.

The House should propose a raft of BRACs now, and use their leverage in the upcoming debt-limit debate to secure them.  If the President opposes BRACs, Congress must be ready to act on them in early 2013, and BRACs should be a central part of the 2012 election campaign.

For BRACs to be effective, guidelines should include the following:

1. The party makeup of each BRAC commission should reflect the congressional division of power.

2.  A simple majority commission vote should send each proposal to Congress for an up or down vote.

3. The Senate should adopt special orders which exclude the use of the filibuster when considering BRAC proposals.

4. Rejecting a BRAC commission report should trigger a legislative poison-pill backup.  If a report is rejected by Congress, or by the President, they would be required to propose their own measures which achieve the BRAC commission's targets, then offer the legislation for an up or down vote. 

President Obama will see BRACs as a threat to his ideology, but he has proven to be feckless, and is daily less capable of shaping opinion.  Reality has left him behind; he clings to what amounts to little more than rank gamesmanship. The more astute and practical leftists already know that the jig is up, and will embrace BRACs.  BRACs offer the left a chance to share credit for successes, and possibly postpone the complete repudiation of liberalism.

Hypothetically, Americans still retain the power to salvage our country's future.  But the logical next question still remains unanswered: Can we can find a way to actually exercise that power?  Bring on the BRACs.