Thursday, March 14, 2013

Zombie Ideas

More often than we'd like to see them these days, ideas that we thought were dead and buried keep being resurrected in American politics. Like most things that should have remained dead and buried, most 'zombie ideas' aren't exactly good things.

Take the effort to expand gambling in Nebraska.

We recently wrote about the current efforts being pushed in the Nebraska Legislature, by out-of-state lobbying interests to spread legal casino gambling across the Cornhusker State. As we noted two weeks ago, this zombie idea has been run past Nebraska voters three times in the last decade, with all three attempts going down to resounding defeat.

There are those who are saying LR41CA - the measure to allow betting on historic horse racing in Nebraska - is yet another zombie gambling bill. We admit, there are some significant similarities to the 2012 Nebraska jobs and horse racing bill, which passed the Nebraska Legislature last year, but was vetoed by Republican governor Dave Heineman.

The key difference, however, is that both the 2012 and 2013 horse racing bills are trying to save Nebraska jobs that already exist, by only slightly modifying current law. The expanded gambling interests, however, want to completely change a law that's part of the Nebraska State Constitution.

Sadly, the lobbyists with the zombie gambling idea just keep coming back to bang on the door of the Nebraska legislature.

In a similar vein, the GOP keeps bringing back another zombie idea, Paul Ryan's failed budget plan. As we noted on Wednesday, Ryan's proposals aren't the only budget plans coming out of Washington, DC these days.

In fact, U.S. Senate Democrats released their own budget proposal on Wednesday, and unlike the House Republican 'Ryan Plan', the Democratic budget plan is no zombie.

The always astute Ezra Klein broke down Democratic Sen. Patty Murray's budget plan, and found it was actually more honestly conservative - in the dictionary definition of "preserving existing conditions" - than the Ryan Plan is.

The Democratic Plan is, to some degree, vague about certain details, though unlike the Ryan Plan, the Murray Plan is clear about how Democrats plan to pay for the things Americans demand from their government. The full Democratic Budget is long, but the key differences between the Murray Plan and the Ryan plan are simple.

The Democratic Murray Plan focuses on keeping and growing jobs in America, as well as making sensible progress on paying down debt and deficit, through slight modifications in current laws and programs. Further, the Murray Plan is an equal mix of closing loopholes to raise revenue, while cutting waste to cut costs. In short, the Democratic plan is fair, balanced, and not radical.

In comparison, the Ryan Plan wants to drastically change how our Federal government works, gutting support for the poor and elderly, giving massive new tax breaks to the rich, and significantly changing our federal laws to benefit those who already have more than enough - a plan that voters strongly rejected last fall.

There's a reason we call stupid ideas that won't go away 'zombie ideas.' We just wish we could find the legislative weapon that would finally bury some of these undead notions once and for all.