The relative value of deficit reduction ... and parking

Earlier this month, I noted the irony of the deficit commission running out of cash, a hilarious encapsulation of why government programs usually run over budget and don’t deliver.  But guess what won’t run out of money: Congressional parking.  That’s because Congress has devoted more money to a parking study than Barack Obama assigned to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform:

President Barack Obama sought $15 million to run his oil spill commission and a panel on the Wall Street meltdown got $8 million. The budget for his commission on reducing the federal deficit: $500,000. …

The commission is charged with presenting a plan by December on how to reduce deficits projected to average $1 trillion a year for the next decade, an amount economists view as dangerously large. Moody’s Investors Service has warned it will cut the government’s bond rating if the deficit outlook doesn’t improve. Three-fourths of the panel’s 18 members must agree on its recommendations, and Congress would vote on them.

“We have all the money we need,” Bruce Reed, commission executive director, said in an interview, “We’re a deficit commission, so we’re tight-fisted by nature.”

Should it have more resources?  It really shouldn’t exist at all, as I’ve repeatedly argued.  Congress has the Constitutional duty to produce an annual budget for the federal government, not the executive branch, and certainly not a panel of unaccountable “experts.”  Congress takes this duty so seriously that they’re not even going to produce a budget resolution this year, the first such failure since 1974’s revamp of the budget process.

But if one wants to see the priorities of Democrats in charge of the government, this comparison is instructive.  They want to spend 30 times more money on one commission that essentially duplicates a process that should already exist within the Department of Interior.  Obama will spend 16 times more on a commission intended to create more intervention in private markets after a crisis caused by previous government intervention in the private-sector lending market for the purposes of social engineering.  The principle of not spending more than one receives gets the lowest amount of money, despite Admiral Mike Mullen’s warning that the national debt represents the greatest threat to US national security today.

Rob Port agrees:

Obviously, the fact that a study of a Congressional parking garage got more funding than the deficit reduction panel is indicative of Congress’ priorities. That being said, why isn’t $500,000 enough (and why would you need more than half a million to study the building of a parking garage)?

The deficit commission is tasked to produce a report on December 1st. The commission was formed on February 18th. So the commission will have operated, presuming no delays in the issuance of its report, for nine and a half months.

The funding it has is $52,631/month. And somehow…that’s not enough money?

Like so much of government, it’s already too much money, because it’s both extrajurisdictional and redundant.  It’s perfect as an object lesson, though.