Folks... yesterday I attended the funeral of a fine man who will be dearly missed.
In November I lost a good friend... a friend I cherished.
Here's what I want to know: Why does not God take to His Bosom His flawed and frankly contemptible servant John Boehner?
If the fiscal cliff talks make Lindsay Lohan look like a productive member of society, perhaps it's because President Obama and John Boehner are playing by the dysfunctional Beltway rules.
The rules work if you like bigger government, but Republicans need a new strategy, which starts by exposing the rigged game of "baseline budgeting."
Both the White House and House Republicans are pretending that their goal is "reducing the deficit," which they suggest means making real spending choices. They are talking about a "$4 trillion plan," or something, regardless of how that number is reached.
Here's the reality: Those numbers have no real meaning because they are conjured in the wilderness of mirrors that is the federal budget process.
Since 1974, Capitol Hill's "baseline" has automatically increased spending every year according to Congressional Budget Office projections, which means before anyone has submitted a budget or cast a single vote.
Tax and spending changes are then measured off that inflated baseline... not in absolute terms.
The most absurd current example is Mr. Obama's claim that his "$4 trillion" plan reduces the deficit by about $800 billion over 10 years by ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But those "savings," as he calls them, are measured against a White House budget office spending baseline that is fictional!
Those wars are already being unwound and everyone knows the money will never be spent!
(But they are called "savings" to gull the public and make the deficit reduction add up to a large-sounding $4 trillion.)
The baseline scam also exists in many states, and no less a Democrat than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo denounced it in 2011 as a "sham" and "deceptive." He wrote in the New York Post that state spending was "dictated by hundreds of rates and formulas that are marbleized throughout New York State laws that govern different programs - formulas that have been built into the law over decades, without regard to fiscal realities, performance or accountability."
(Then he proceeded to continue baseline budgeting.)
In Washington, Democrats designed this system to make it easier to defend annual spending increases and to portray any reduction in the baseline as a spending "cut." Chris Wallace called Timothy Geithner on this "gimmick" on Fox News Sunday this week only to have the Treasury Secretary insist it's real.
Republicans used to object to this game, but in recent years they seem to have given up.
In an October 2010 speech at the American Enterprise Institute, House Speaker Boehner proposed that "we ought to start at square one" and rewrite the 1974 budget act. But he then dropped the idea, and in the current debate the GOP is putting itself at a major disadvantage by negotiating off the phony baseline.
In a press release Tuesday, Boehner's own office advertised the need for "spending cuts" that aren't... cuts.
If Republicans really want to slow the growth in spending, they need to stop playing by Beltway rules and start explaining to America why Mr. Obama keeps saying he's cutting spending even as spending and deficits keep going up and up and up.