No More BRAC!

| Mon Nov. 21, 2011 4:04 PM EST

Stan Collender takes on one of my favorite pet peeves today, so I'll just turn the mike over to him:

For years I have been asked why we don't just set up a budget commission with rules like the base realignment and closure commissions of the past that have always been taken as the model for a successful commission. For the record, we had that here and it didn't work. Had the hardly-super committee actually recommended a deficit reduction plan, it would have used a BRAC-like process: the bill could not have been amended by Congress and would have been considered in both Houses on a simple up-or-down vote. No filibusters allowed.

BRAC was created to do something very different from the super committee: it was designed to determine which military facilities should be closed after Congress decided that some weren't needed. By contrast, the super committee had to do the equivalent of determining whether any bases should be closed at all. That was a far more open-ended and considerably more difficult task than anything any BRAC was ever asked to do.

I am so tired of BRAC I could scream. As near as I can tell, every hard problem of the past 20 years has produced suggestions that we need "something like BRAC." But guess what? The BRAC concept has only ever worked for one thing: closing military bases. If there's a silver lining to the failure of the supercommittee to do anything, maybe, just maybe, it will be the death knell of calls for another BRAC.

We don't need another BRAC. What we need is two political parties that are able to act in at least tolerably sensible ways on at least sporadic occasions. So far we only have one.