Some people think Grover Norquist is a genius. Other people think he's an idiot. And there are still others that think he's a small-statured asshole with a pinched weasel face, a voice like air escaping from a zoo balloon, and a beard that pubescent boys would be too sympathetic to mock. Me, I just think he's a terrorist, hell-bent on the destruction of US Amercia and all that we hold dear.
Grover Norquist is well-known (around these parts, at least) for his infantile ideas about government and taxation, ideas he boasts of having come up with around the same time he was stealing his dad's Playboys and crying about his zits, but the below interview demonstrates just how entirely oblivious he truly is about how the government, or indeed any entity that takes in and spends money, actually functions:
MIKE ALLEN: This president is not going to extend [Bush tax cuts], he knows that he loses his leverage that way.Ok, there are a couple problems with this. The first is the obligatory question of what right Grover Norquist believes himself to possess (and Politico, as per usual, is also culpable here) to dictate how our government functions beyond that of any other private citizen. The second, and perhaps more salient point in regard to this latest round of ideas from the Playskool College of Economics, Governance and Brightly Colored Objects is the question of how any government agency - even that old sacred cow, the Dept of Defense - is conceivably supposed to function if its budget is being determined on a weekly basis.
NORQUIST: Well, the Republicans also have other leverage. Continuing resolutions on spending and the debt ceiling increase. They can give him debt ceiling increases once a month. They can have him on a rather short leash, you know, here’s your allowance, come back next month.
ALLEN: Okay, wait. You’re proposing that the debt ceiling be increased month by month?
NORQUIST: Monthly if he’s good. Weekly if he’s not.
As anyone that has ever run a business - or, hell, ever paid their own bills - can attest to, one of the most crucial elements of being able to budget one's expenses. On the most fundamental level, you know that you'll be able to afford rent this month because you know how much money you're going to get paid by your employer. It's especially amusing that Norquist uses the allowance analogy, since any kid with an allowance quickly grasps the concept of budgeting for both shortterm purchases (candy) and longterm purchases (lots of candy) based on revenues, yet it seems to be beyond poor Grover's ken.
My mother works for the Department of Defense. She used to be one of the people that made sure that our troops were actually getting the support they need. Not with vague feelings of misguided, ill-informed, geographically naïve patriotism, or by slapping a magnet on the back of your SUV that was made in China and purchased from the biggest threat to American prosperity since polio. Her job was to ensure that the contractors that made things for the military were providing the uniformed with materials that met their requirements, and holding said contractors responsible when they weren't. Now she's an administrator, which means that she oversees the people that ensure the troops are supplied with body armor that actually stops bullets and the like. She is payed with government money, as are all of her colleagues.
Her department uses these mysterious things called budgets to determine how they allocate their resources. These budgets are, in an ideal world, supposed to be annual, and are based on how much money the department is allotted per annum by the federal government to carry out its duties seeing to it that the troops don't receive guns that shoot backwards. In the past couple years, they - like many government agencies - have seen their efforts to determine these budgets stymied by the fact that the all-knowing wise and venerable Congress has decided that to save taxpayer money, it's not going to actually pass a budget, opting instead to just keep periodically waving through the same allocation it did the previous quarter. The result of this is that the department doesn’t actually know how much money it's going to have beyond the end of three months. This, as any nine-year-old with an allowance and a piggy bank can tell you, means that it's nearly impossible for the department to determine how to allocate its budget in anything above a basic, day-to-day manner, resulting in substandard implementation of its duties, massive flurries of spending at the end of each quarter, and an inability to operate with any kind of longterm plan. This, as you might imagine, is not ideal.
The debt ceiling circus of 2011 only made this problem a whole lot worse. You see, the debt ceiling figure isn't some vague estimate of how much money the government is going to need in the future, it's a very real numerical representation of how much money our country already owes. It's like the balance on the US credit card, more or less, but unlike us individuals, the government can't just default on its debt and declare bankruptcy, so it has to keep borrowing. Of course, we could probably pay the debt off pretty quickly if we raised taxes back to an even semi-reasonable level - I'm thinking 60% on the top earners - and cut the DOD budget in half, but since that won't happen as long as people like Sir Boehner of Weeping Orange, Captain Turkey Waddle McConnell and, of course, Grover Norquist draw breath in the hallowed halls of DC, we keep borrowing money to fund our country's expenses (things like roads, the military, and healthcare for the Congress). Which means that the aforementioned budget thing is contingent on periodically raising the debt ceiling so we can afford to continue to pay for stuff. Which is why Grover Norquist has, once and for all, now demonstrated that he has absolutely no idea how government - or any business, for that matter - actually functions.
What Norquist is suggesting would be disastrous. Without some modicum of financial stability, every single government agency would not only be unable to function at a bare minimum of effectiveness, but the resulting waste would end up costing the government - and Grover's beloved taxpayer - more money in the long run. The outcome of this would potentially be pretty close to Norquist's sadistic fantasy of a government "small enough to drown in a bathtub", but even beyond how obviously harmful that would be to the functioning of our nation, the effect it would have on the thousands of businesses and millions of workers that depend on government contracts would cripple our economy. If we were to start having these dick-measuring debt ceiling showdowns on a monthly or weekly basis, before long, we'd be even deeper into recession, and the inevitable breadlines, Mad Max-style battles for gasoline, and eventual fights with packs of roving wild dogs for old packages of Spam and Twinkies would be less than a decade away.
Fortunately, it seems as though Grover's listicles in the GOP are starting to get tired of being told what to do by a man whose greatest aspiration in life is to be an unfunny standup comedian and are beginning to publicly recant their allegiance to him. One can only hope this trend continues. Because one thing I believe the US should never, ever do, is negotiate with terrorists.