This piece from AEI is too soft on the Bush years but at least it offers some structural answers to controlling America's debt-addiction. I'm not an expert on these ideas but I'd be interested in your thoughts on them:
The reinstatement of the president’s power of impoundment, taken away by the Budget Control Act of 1974, would give the president much the same power as a line-item and would certainly be constitutional.
Taking away the power of Congress and the president to decide how to keep the government’s books would also be a big step in the right direction and require only congressional action. Wall Street recognized more than 100 years ago that corporate managements could not be trusted to keep honest and transparent books and neither can the managers of governments because, like corporate managers, they are human and therefore self-interested.
An independent accounting board, modeled on the Federal Reserve (which keeps the power to print money out of the hands of Congress) would accomplish that.
It should have the power to set the rules of accounting for the federal government, “score” the costs of new programs (which the Congressional Budget Office does now), and monitor all federal programs for cost-effectiveness (something Congress often forbids government agencies to do, obviously fearing what it might learn).
Finally, the adoption by Congress of a limit on total spending, so that it could only increase to reflect population growth and inflation, unless a two-thirds majority agreed to suspend the limit, would force Congress to make the hard choices it now works so hard to avoid. Several states have similar provisions in place, and these are the states suffering the least from the downturn in revenues due to the current recession. California’s budget began to go out of control in the early 1990s precisely because it effectively repealed such a law.
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