According to this Forbes piece, President Obama proposed privatizing the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in his budget, but Republicans from Tennessee are opposed using the very same arguments that democrats used to oppose privatizing the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), when President Bush proposed privatizing it.
First, I want to point out that politics is politics. In the comments of this post from February, Wally and I discussed the BPA, an electric power provider in the Northwest structured like the TVA as a Federal government stepchild.
It isn’t a fluke that President W proposed privatizing the BPA, while Obama proposed to privatize the TVA. The BPA provides power primarily to states that tend to vote for Democrats, while the TVA does the same in states that tend to vote for Republicans. Might as well take government goodies from your opponents first.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt to get your opponents in Congress spun up on keeping their government goodies so you can claim they are not cooperating with making budget cuts.
But, if I were a Republican I’d put privatizing the TVA on a fast track and call President Obama’s bluff.
It would make a great test case that Republicans could use to demonstrate privatization can happen without calamity. Successful test cases make good sales material. If it works out well, it just might touch off the willingness for more privatizations, including things like the BPA in the Northwest and the TSA.
I agree with Veronique de Rugy about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan.
It’s not enough.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)
All of this budget and deficit talk reminded me of this (NBC or this on Hulu) Saturday Night Live skit named Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.
Steve Martin’s character seems to sum up how we got to our current situation:
I think I got it. I buy something I want and then hope that I can pay for it, right?
Parnell’s character replies:
No. You make sure you have money. Then you buy it.
As Parnell says at the end: The advice is priceless.
Maybe our elected officials should watch it. Better yet. Maybe they should show it to the rest of country as they push for fiscal responsibility.
A friend who wishes to go by Lane Meyer sent an e-mail pointing out an excellent passage from Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger’s piece, A Ronald Reagan Budget.
But the Obama prescriptions reflected Democratic Party politics of our time, which insists that prosperity begins inside someone’s head in Washington and then flows out to the country. The country is a taker of what Washington creates or allows—whether the Obama health-care plan or anti-carbon regulations. Reagan-Ryan argues that prosperity is born inside the heads of several hundred million citizens, and that the government’s first responsibility is not to kill the yeast.
Both the Beltway Democrats and the conservative deficit hawks share the conceit that the nation’s future revolves completely around what they do in Washington. This reduces the people to bystanders. That may work for Europe’s parliamentary systems, but it’s not the way things work here. Successful politics here draws people into its drama, and that means offering something bigger to believe in than deficit reduction. And guess what, progressives: The “safety net” isn’t what moves a nation, either. Think bigger.
Paul Ryan’s budget is inevitably about what Washington does (or refuses to do). But its underlying rationale is to reorder the relationship between Washington and the American people—country first, Washington behind.
It would be tough to word that any better.
If you come across anything you think is especially post-worthy, please let me know.