A potential lame-duck session of Congress is creating a sort of Mexican standoff—a judo entanglement for people of every political background. This is evident in the arguments surrounding lame-duck sessions, which have recently surfaced in the discussion over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
As a conservative with libertarian leanings, I disagree with Joseph Stiglitz. No surprise there. But agree with Obama. Um…okay. But disagree with Clinton Wut? and Trump. You got me back. But agree with Joseph Stiglitz.
Let me clarify. I support TPP because I believe free and open trade is good for America and the world. President Obama supports TPP. However, liberal economist Joseph Stiglitz, Hillary Clinton and her flamboyant opponent, Donald J. Trump, all oppose TPP.
This is where the tables turn. In a recent CNN interview, Stiglitz decried Obama’s intention to use a lame-duck session to pass TPP.
Regardless of what one thinks of TPP, Stiglitz’s criticism of lame-duck sessions is absolutely correct. They often produce bad legislation due to a lack of political accountability.
Politicians are least accountable during lame-duck sessions, which are the periods after Election Day and before the new Congress. Many members lost elections, never to face voters again. “What the heck,” they say. “Let’s go crazy!” As a result, lame-duck spending bills are usually reckless and riddled with corporate welfare. Unlike other pieces of legislation, omnibus spending bills are easier hiding spots for these dubious appropriations.
Stiglitz is right. We should all be wary of lame-duck anything—especially spending bills.
Instead of a lame-duck spending bill, Congress should pass a long-term spending bill right now which would fund the government into 2017. This would allow the newly elected Congress decide how to spend money, not unaccountable politicians.
As for TPP, I want to be perfectly clear: I honestly don’t know whether trying to pass it during a lame-duck session is appropriate. One could argue that the nature of the legislation is different. However, I am happy to hijack Stiglitz’s argument on lame-duck sessions and apply it to spending bills.
Politics creates strange bedfellows. Sometimes, ya just gotta get comfortable and make sure the mattress isn’t infested with wasteful spending.