The Cheney Supremacy
The Bells of St. Martin's

Judd Gregg Tries to Revive Gramm-Rudman

The problem with Judd Gregg's proposal is that Gramm-Rudman didn't work when we tried it in the 1980s. It, I think, made matters worse--members of congress became more eager to vote for budget-busting measures when they could claim that Gramm-Rudman placed a cap on the total deficit, and then the congress was unwilling to apply the cap medicine when the dose turned out to be unexpectedly high, and so the process died.

The Budget Enforcement Act framework seemed to work much better in the 1990s than Gramm-Rudman worked in the 1980s.

The shift to two-year budgeting, however, does seem like a very good idea.

House Panel Approves Line-Item Veto Bill: Senate Budget Committee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H., unveiled a broader budget overhaul plan. In addition to a similar mechanism to require revotes on projects deemed wasteful by the president, the bill would revive the old Gramm-Rudman mechanism of setting hard deficit targets and requiring across-the-board cuts if they are not met. The measure sets a target of a reducing the deficit to .5 percent of the size of the economy within six years.

"It will lead to a balanced budget for sure by 2012," Gregg said.

Unlike the Gramm-Rudman law, the across-the-board cuts would apply not just to programs passed by Congress each year but also to benefit programs such as Medicare, welfare and unemployment insurance.

Gregg's proposal, which is likely to clear the Budget Committee but stall thereafter, would also put Congress on a two-year budget cycle and establish a commission to make recommendations to keep Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid solvent...