Monday, July 2, 2007

The Absurdity of Specificity

David Yepsen has a perceptive piece in the Politico about special interest groups in Iowa, and elsewhere, looking for guarantees from presidential candidates on certain issues. The questions can get extremely detailed and require few answering options, such as:
... "During your term as president, will you submit budgets to Congress that will freeze total non-defense discretionary spending for at least the first two fiscal years beginning after the 2008 general election and will restrict any increase thereafter to no more than the inflation rate, veto any spending that exceeds this limit, and veto any bill that uses budgetary gimmicks (such as claiming non-emergency spending as emergency spending, or waiving budgetary rules restraining taxes and spending) to evade the limit?"

And please answer yes or no.

Essentially this question is asking, "So, you say you're going to cut taxes and lower spending -- now prove it!"

Notice how the question frontloads the non-discretionary spending freeze for the first two years of the administration knowing full well that few elected officials running for re-election will be willing to engage in more spending (at least at the cost of raising taxes) during the two years the president is likely to be running for re-election?

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