I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ARRGG! We MUST CUT the deficit! We MUST CUT spending! (EXCEPT the stuff WE care about)

Politico's Scott Wong posted an article about the impending sequestration that encapsulated some things we've been discussing about in class. Some of these dynamics include a legislator's inclination to follow the interests of their own constituencies, sometimes over party agenda, and how important earmarks are.

Wong writes that members of Congress are all racing to make sure pet projects in their states or districts avoid the chopping axe of the sequester. This is occurring on both sides of the aisle and on both chambers of Congress. Senator Tom Udall (D, NM) wants to save nuclear labs and a missile defense system in his state. Senator Roger Wicker (R, MS) does not want cuts in the Army of Corps of Engineers, fearing cuts may jeopardize waterway construction in the Mississippi River. Democrat Cheri Bustos and Republican Adam Kinzinger, both Representatives from Illinois, joined forces to show concern about cuts to certain federal defense contracts in the Rockford area.

Draper's book also had a hilarious but similarly telling moment. In chapter 9, page 77, Draper recounts a conference of the Republican freshmen, with everyone eager to seriously cut government spending. They all agree at the outset of the meeting: We must consider everything. Nothing is off the table. There are no sacred cows. IMMEDIATELY after setting this rule, Jeff Duncan (R, SC) says how important it is to maintain American aid to Israel. Everyone agrees. Suddenly, foreign aid to Israel is off the table. 

Lindsey Graham (R, SC) was quoted by Wong in the article that summed up the issue at hand pretty well:“When it’s somebody else’s base and district, it’s good government. When it’s in your state or your backyard, it’s devastating." Basically, cutting the deficit is good. But not when you cut stuff in my district or the things important to me. Then it's a "job-killer" or "a threat to our national security".

In short, members of Congress will probably agree that deficit reduction is a serious national issue. But they will also probably agree: just don't start in my backyard. Or with the things I care about.

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