The Quiet Coup

By Jon Denn*

No Budget No Pay means “Only Rich May Govern.” Could you afford to work for two or six years without pay? I think there’s a name for that. What is it, again? I can’t quite remember.

But if the broken Congress you’re a member of, can’t pass a budget that’s what’s going to happen. A block of rich members can simply filibuster the budget, as they almost always do every bill now. Even silently, which is really cowardly. And you go broke.

Then the next election comes, you don’t run, and another rich member joins Congress. Soon they’ll only be rich in Congress. I don’t think that’s what the founders had in mind. In fact, it was pretty clear, the House was for the People. Not just rich ones. Well played 1%ers!

You do know that elected officials take campaign contributions from the corporations and unions they regulate, right? That members of congress spend more time fund raising than doing their jobs, right? You do know that as soon as rich Congressman and Senators retire they go to work in private industry for millions, right? I guess that No Pay thing would just be a down payment on future riches.

Congress passes spending bills and almost always appropriates. Having a budget is secondary. The deficit is another discussion, and one that needs to happen with people on all sides, Deficit Hawks, Deficit Doves, and Modern Monetary Theorists.  If I had my way, I’d like to see a three-way debate, and let’s inform the electorate on all sides of the issue. Which one of the three will win, I don’t know. I think that’s called government, and our Congress is too busy raising campaign money to do much governing.

But what I do know is, No Budget No Pay, is a quiet coup guised as reform. No sane non-rich person will ever run for Congress again. Is that a democracy? Is that the Republic we want? President Obama, should veto No Budget No Pay. And you might want to ask your member of Congress why they don’t just pass campaign finance reform so they have time to do the jobs we elected them to do, instead of passing bizarre band-aids and obtuse tricks.

You do know that Congress only has to pass a few laws for publicly or semi-publically funded elections, right? In fact, only Congress can, barring an Article V Constitutional Convention. And, given MMT practices, the only cost to the Federal Government is what, a slight fear of inflation? And, as we all know here, with 20% unused capacity in the US, and a burgeoning peacetime, we still have more to fear from deflation.

If No Labels were a true reform group, they should push for any one of a myriad of real reforms instead of pushing government even further away from We, the People, and even closer to the 1% that has essentially “acquired” the deficit. Private Surplus = Public Deficit.

The brazenness of the same people pushing for a balanced budget and austerity to eliminate the deficit they acquired as a surplus is incredulous.

Hello, is anyone out there awake? And now they want to cut barely adequate essential services to the poor to pay back the government? Huh? How does granny eating cat food on toast points from day old bread, instead of fresh veggies, going to fix our economy. It’s outrageous. But the 1% deficit hawks and doves are digging in deep with No Budget No Pay.

Please advocate for NO on No Budget No Pay.


 * Jon Denn is editor of aGREATER.US, an internet platform to find a greater political platform for the US. He is a member of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation. The views expressed here are his own. You can follow him on twitter @jmdenn



10 responses to “The Quiet Coup

  1. As I ( and others, like Rep. Alan Grayson, have pointed out, changing the pay of Congress prior to the next election (in 2014) is a violation of the 27th Amendment, even if they try to get around this by putting money in “escrow” until the next session. This last, and little known, amendment passed in 1992, prohibits “varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives” until after the next election.

  2. Hi Scott, Are you saying it won’t become “bad” law until 2014?

    • No, I’m saying the Congress will be in violation of the Constitution (again), if they pass this, despite the apparent attempt to work-around this with an “escrow” provision. I hadn’t considered the angle you presented until reading it now, but it is valid as well, and it doesn’t contradict what I’m saying.

      • I believe the House and Senate has already passed it and it’s packaged in a larger bill. It’s really too bad Congress doesn’t have enough work time to actually pass/defeat singular legislation, but I digress. I’m fairly certain Obama is NOT going to veto this. So, the question is, will someone put this in front of SCOTUS? If they do, is the next question whether they will view a predetermined incentive/penalty compensation package by a previous Congress as passing the “compensation” test for the next one? I’m not at all sure how that will play out. My larger concern is this: these faux reform movements like American Elect and NoLabels and to a large degree the groups that are obsessively hyper-focused on the Citizen’s United Ruling, are essentially syphoning off all the reform angst with red herrings, minnows, and krill. They are distractions to the real issues—the whales; omnibus electoral reform, clean government, an evolved understanding of how our economy operates, sustainable local jobs, climate change, energy security, and reversing the shocking turn against civil liberties.

  3. Allen Stambaugh

    No Budget, No Pay may provide a “keystone” opportunity by allowing the House and/or Senate leadership to withhold pay until the members agree to the budget they propose. Many members may have no choice but to vote yes to any budget supported by the leadership however bad. It is easier to corrupt a handful of Congress(wo)men and Senators than a majority of both houses.

    • Elected officials are so used to the legal extortion and bribery (for their campaigns, and the revolving door) in their everyday lives, that the leadership evolved to kick it up a notch and eat its young. Wouldn’t it be easier to bring back earmarks? At least that bribery worked it’s way down to the electorate. Is their just one party now? Congressional Leadership—that is assured of reelection through gerrymandering and incumbent advantage and way too much 1% money in politics. You really can’t make this stuff up. It’s heinous.

  4. The measure is a cheap trick, which was motivated by the constant propaganda from the proposing vengeance against Congress because they can’t act. However, the real reason why they can’t act is that the public doesn’t have enough to sense to make sure that the Party they want to vote for has enough seats to control the House and break a filibuster in the Senate.

  5. Excellent post, Jon. Great writing!