In Which I Solve the Budget Impasse

As TPM notes, House Republicans are ready to shut down the government not over deficits, which they couldn’t care less about, but rather over Planned Parenthood and EPA.  This is to be expected: they are far more interested in catering to their base than trying to help the country.

But what do you do about it?  At some point, someone is going to have to give.  Well, here’s a formula for the Planned Parenthood impasse, which I think will be used in some form or another in a lot of the issues.  The proposed budget should contain this language:

No funds shall be spent for any programs operated by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Then Planned Parenthood creates a subsidiary, with an interlocking directorate, and the government funds programs through that subsidiary.  Republicans say that they blocked funding of “Planned Parenthood,” the funding goes through, then the GOP goes to their base and say that they are shocked, shocked, that this could happen.  It costs more money because of the additional paperwork, but of course as I said beforehand, Republicans don’t care about that.

It gives the country a few months.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

13 thoughts on “In Which I Solve the Budget Impasse”

  1. Extend and pretend is a formula for stabilizing a predatory political economy. I’m not suggesting there’s a good alternative; I am suggesting that the elimination of any good alternative was part of the political setup for this kind of extortion drama.

    They say a neurotic goes to psychotherapy seeking to become a better neurotic, and cannot overcome his neurosis, until he gives up that hope.

  2. Technically, what you recommend is probably unconstitutional. Not that anyone cares any more about the rule of law than about the deficit, but I thought I would mention it.

  3. Sean says: I have a better solution: We fight.

    And the meme to that end is the answer to this riddle:
    Who had the boner of an idea to allow endless riders to the budget bill in the first place?

  4. It’s not a bill of attainder, because Congress deciding that they’re not going to fund you isn’t a criminal penalty.

    And I know you think the Republican base is stupid, but they’re not THAT stupid.

  5. “Congress deciding that they’re not going to fund you isn’t a criminal penalty.”

    Barring an particular, named organization from Federal funding is a penalty, and that would make it, arguably, a bill of attainder, under existing precedent. Of course, a Federalist Society judge would see it the way you do. Did I mention that no one cares anymore about the rule of law? It is pointless to argue over these kind of careful distinctions and procedural rules, if people are just going to use raw political power to do as they please. We’ve effectively voided laws and treaty obligations against torture, the right of habeas corpus, and the statute against frauds — bills of attainder are just a quaint footnote at this point.

  6. The notion behind the prohibition against bills of attainder was that the government should not name specific entities to lose, but should use general principles.

    eg, it is not a strictly a bill of attainder to say “no company except IBM can provide computers to the US Government”, but it’s in a similar category of bad law.

    Likewise, naming specific companies as not allowed to get govt funds just by name, not behavior, is fundamentally unfair.

  7. “It gives the country a few months.”

    And the value of this is what?

    Look, you may not like it, but we have here a situation like the Civil War — an irreconcilable minority that simply WILL NOT accept compromise, ever, in anything. Delaying a few months is not going to change that.

    It took the Great Depression to finally get enough (and that’s all it was — enough, not “all”, not even “the vast majority”) of the plutocracy and their idiot hangers-on to finally concede to change. I don’t see any difference this time round.
    And if we’re going to have a Great Depression 2, the sooner it comes (and thus the sooner we can all get on with serious restructuring of the energy infrastructure) the better.

  8. not a “Bill of Attainder” but in my view, much like it. I never said it was one, just that it had the same flavor.

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