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March 'Badness': Debt Ceiling Crisis Will Be More Embarrassing Than the Fiscal Cliff

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Congress could learn a thing or two from the efficiently-run March Madness basketball tournament.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Beginning in March, a governing body will start a national activity that when concluded will result in only 1.47% of the participants completely happy with the end result. Around the same time another national governing body will attempt to complete an activity that when finished will probably result in an approval rating considerably lower than 1.47%

The first activity is the NCAA basketball tournament, also known as "March Madness," where only one team out of 68 can win. The second activity will be Congress trying to overcome the debt ceiling and the sequester problem by March. If you thought the fiscal cliff was an embarrassment to the country, it will be nothing compared to the "March Badness" coming.

March Madness is an efficiently run tournament, and Congress could use a few of the rules in basketball to prevent March Badness. First, and most obvious, is the shot clock rule. In college basketball, a shot must be taken before 35 seconds have passed. Congress seems to like to use Dean Smith's old "four corner delay offense" from the beginning of the congressional session. The Senate hasn't passed a budget since 2009. Failure to pass a budget before the budget year starts would result in a turnover. Passing a bill at 2:00 a.m. New Year's Day is a definite turnover.

You cannot kick the ball in basketball. Kicking the can down the road in Congress would result in a turnover.

You cannot travel in basketball. Excessive traveling on taxpayers' expense would be a turnover. A hypothetical example would be a president flying back from Hawaii, trotting out some taxpayers to stand behind him for a 5-minute statement, and flying back to Hawaii before signing an important bill to make a tee time. Stuff like that would be a turnover.

Personal fouls are limited in basketball. They need to be limited in Congress to provide good sportsmanship. I realize good sportsmanship in this Congress is highly needed, but likely impossible. A hypothetical example would be the use of the F-word between the Speaker and Senate majority leader. This would be taunting and result in a personal foul. Five personal fouls over a congressional term would ban you from voting for the rest of the term.

Finally, what would be the penalty for a "turnover"? It would have to hurt. There are some obvious choices. No budget, no pay for the member and their staff. That's easy, but we need to make it a real turnover. After a turnover is called, the party at guilt (it could easily be both with these guys) would have to select a member of their party to be removed; a special election would need to be called and the removed member could not run in the new election. In other words, real turnover and real pain. Enough called turnovers and this country should be able get back on track.

OK, we will need a few refs to call the game. I volunteer. Anybody else interested?
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