I don’t disagree that sending a pork-seeking legislator to the White House will do little to reform spending in Congress. We need look no further than the man we elected the last time for a good example of that problem, after all. Rick Perry’s argument that sending a fox to guard the henhouse won’t work is correct … as far as it goes. But it’s the part that follows that doesn’t work as well:
How, exactly, does a President force Congress to take a pay cut and revert to part-time status? That would take both legislation (the pay cut) and a Constitutional amendment to limit the sessions of Congress to “part time,” which is an undefined term anyway. Technically speaking, Congress is already part time work … just with full-time pay and bennies. In 2011, the House was in session for 175 days, which is far below the 240 or so that usually counts for full-time work in the US, and I’d guess that some of those days weren’t exactly 8-hour workfests, either, although certainly a few of them burned the midnight oil.
In order to fulfill this campaign pledge, Perry would have to get Congress to go along with the pay cut, and get two-thirds majorities in each chamber to pass a Constitutional amendment that limits sessions even further than today, plus three-quarters of the states. How likely is that? And wouldn’t that effort be put to better use in pursuit of a balanced-budget amendment that limited the federal government’s ability to spend money — which is the real problem, and not the length of time that Congress goes into session?
These are certainly provocative campaign promises, but there is almost no chance that Perry can deliver on them.