Abolish Appropriations?

by Brien Jackson

In an update to a brutal takedown of Congressional appropriators, Joe Klein writes:

Various commenters are wondering whether I oppose Congressional oversight. Absolutely not, obviously. But the appropriate committees to question Obama’s Af/Pak policies are Foreign Relations and Armed Services, not Appropriations. In fact, I’d like to see both Appropriations Committees–pork sinkholes that they are–abolished. The money for Af/Pak should be approved by members of Congress who actually know something about foreign and military policy.

Progressive bloggers make a lot of hay out of criticizing the institutional deficiencies of the Senate, but this is arguably one of the more pernicious strucutural problems in Congress, and it’s one shared bythe more progressive (and right-wing) friendly House. Basically both houses of Congress are arranged into committees overseeing broad issue areas (Finance, Foreign Affairs, Banking, etc.). These committees are then broken down into sub-committees dealing with more specific issues in these policy realms. But amidst all of this, you have one committee whose purview is basically nothing but spending money. And all appropriations have to go through this committee. Which means that this group of Congressman, not the committee members you would expect to have some developed expertise over the matter in question, have to approve all appropriations. It really doesn’t make any sense, and eliminating the appropriations committees altogether, or at least giving some level of authority to appropriate to a few of the other committees, would do quite a bit to make government spending more effective. It’s also possible that eliminating a committee that really doesn’t exist to do anything other than spend money could eliminate a lot of truly unnecessary spending.

So what the hell, sign me up Joe!