Press "Enter" to skip to content

First take

Basic rule of thumb: Mergers of giant businesses hardly ever are a good deal for anyone other than a handful of insiders and stockholders. Competition is massively reduced (you can call that the diminishment of a free marketplace, if you like), for one thing. For another, unlike the merger is really well thought out (which seems not to be the usual case), service and operations take a nose dive. That in part for a third problem, which is that massive mounts of money changes hands, tremendous debt is created, and gets who gets to pay for it? Customers, employees and vendors top that list. So there was cheering in this quarter when the proposed Comcast-Times Warner Cable deal collapsed. And there’s hope now that the same will happen as Charter Communications tries its takeover of Time Warner (it also wants to gobble up a third cable company, Bright House Networks). Keep your eye on this one.

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has inherited the long-running Idaho torch for a federal balanced budget amendment – like other Idaho delegation members before him, most notably Larry Craig – and is pumping hard for it. He indicates a Senate vote will come later this year, and maybe it will, but there’s really nothing new here, as the long history demonstrates. But there’s also little value in it, as former Oregon (Republican) Senator Mark Hatfield said in voting against it, that it was a “political gummick.” Why? First, because Congress could balance the budget this year of it chose to bring income and expense into alignment (and actually has done so, mostly recently in the late 90s) – but it won’t, because that would mean tax increases and unacceptable budget cuts, neither of which a constitutional amendment would cure. Second, because any balanced budget constitutional amendment would have to include a trap door for emergencies (the country’s been invaded, and we can’t fund a defense?), and any trap door could be easily abused and render the amendment meaningless. And Crapo must know all this . . .

Share on Facebook