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Ross: Shut down Education, Labor, Commerce instead of raising debt ceiling

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Rep. Dennis Ross (photo by Blair Tomlinson)If Congress can’t raise the debt ceiling, says Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., it’s all good. We’ll just shut down the Education, Labor, and Commerce departments. Maybe a few others, too, and turn their duties over to the states. Here’s the chairman of the House federal workforce subcommittee in a July 9 op-ed:

The federal government takes in about $175 billion per month in tax revenues. … We spend about $30 billion per month on debt interest. Without raising the debt ceiling, we can still service our debt. That leaves the government $145 billion per month, without borrowing. Tax revenue currently covers 67 percent of federal expenses. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, debt interest and social safety net programs consume 60 percent of our budget — i.e. they are fully covered with existing revenue.

Granted, the departments of Education, Labor, Commerce and other bureaucracies that have enjoyed double-digit budget increases the past 10 years will have to shut down. But this is where our differences truly materialize. I believe that states such as Florida can educate our kids, ensure a safe workplace, promote our products and are closest to the people. [emphasis added]

Ross also calls for implementing many of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction proposals, including switching the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to a premium support system as a pilot test for doing the same to Medicare:

The  bipartisan commission suggests capping discretionary spending to pre-2008 levels, cuts to both nondefense and defense discretionary spending (yes, the Department of Defense is overflowing in wasteful spending), cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent or more, and eliminating all congressional earmarks. Regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican uttered these suggestions, these are good ideas.

Ross opens his column by comparing Republicans and Democrats’ relationship to the uneasy partnership between Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: “Even if they don’t trust each other, [they] need to work together to solve our looming debt-and-entitlement budget crisis. (Of course, in that movie Blondie and Tuco spent nearly three hours trying to kill each other while hunting buried Confederate gold, so that may not bode well for deficit negotiations.)

But Ross’ analogy raises another question. If Republicans and Democrats are the Good and the Ugly … who would that make the Bad?

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The Elizabeth Warren rap

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Elizabeth Warren thinks there's two types of people in this world. Those who write regulations on banks and credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets, and those who enforce them. You enforce them.

You know what comes to my mind when I think of Elizabeth Warren, the left’s favorite to be the first director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Rap music. And Sergio Leone-esque spaghetti westerns.

So you can imagine my joy when I stumbled upon this video, from the consumer protection group Main Street Brigade, which is a strong supporter of Warren and Obama’s financial reform efforts. “Got a New Sheriff” combines rapping, auto-tuned lyrics, and Ennio Morricone-inspired whistling, resulting in something that’s … er … unique, to say the least. Unless I’m sorely mistaken, this is the first rap song ever made backing the appointment of a federal official. (Although Don Rumsfeld’s press conferences-slash-poems were set to music back in 2004.)

Still no word from the White House on whether the controversial Warren will get the nod to head the agency that is largely her brainchild. The WaPo last week had a profile on her that’s got some good background, but kind of gives short shrift to the debate over her qualifications.

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H/t: Salon’s How the World Works

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