While we’re not to the point … yet … of inmates being in charge of the institution, though numerous stories coming out of Congress and some state legislatures are indicating we’re close. Two subjects make my case: attempts at nullification and some screwball budget ideas.

Because of the way some lawmakers are trying to use the concept of nullification, it’s clear they don’t know much about it. Often cited as being in our Constitution … it’s not. While it seems correct to give Thomas Jefferson credit for the concept that states should be able to pick and chose which federal laws apply to them, it was only his opinion and not made part of any official document. By anybody.

But 10 states … Oregon, Idaho and Montana among them … are about to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money in court to try to get out from under the nation’s new health care law by nullification. Money badly needed by schools, law enforcement and local governments. When constitutional scholars are asked about chances for success of this governmental crap shoot with our bucks, the answer is all but unanimous: no way!

In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled many times … often unanimously … against the concept of nullification. And in a landmark case in 1819 in Maryland, the Court flat out said states are subordinate to the federal government.

But some legislators are waving copies of a book entitled “Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century” written by Thomas Woods, Jr., a guy who used to promote southern secession. That’s it. That’s their “proof” of their drive for nullification. Sold a lot of books; made a lot of money; screwed up a lot of heads.

Idaho’s attorney general has already told his Republican brothers and sisters they’re wrong. But this is the same bunch that stands on an official state GOP platform of seizing federal lands, returning to the gold standard and requiring a loyalty oath of candidates before party endorsement. So his legal advice is being … well … ignored. Damned law schools.

Speaking of constitutions, ours requires the president come up with a budget for congress to make a mud pie out of. Pres. Obama is working on his. Axes at the ready, congress awaits delivery.

But two “Tea Partyists” have already written theirs as if the constitution had been changed overnight. It wasn’t.

Sen. Paul has authored one to cut $500 Billion in the current federal budget which has less than nine months to go! How would he do that? Eliminate all foreign aid. Abolish the Departments of Energy and Education forthwith, eliminate the Affordable Housing Program, Commission on the Arts, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and the State Justice Institute.

Let’s get a reaction to that from a very conservative place … the Brookings Institution. Says economist Isabel Sawhill, an expert on fiscal issues: “Oh my God. That’s crazy. Really whacko.” A term economists seldom use.

Paul deals with the 20% of the budget called “discretionary.” The other 80% he leaves largely untouched. Whew!

Ah, but not the historically challenged Rep. Bachmann. Take $29 billion of the $31 billion budget of Dept. Of Education (which guts it) and cut $7.8 billion at the Dept. Of Justice (which guts it). Make farm subsidies farm “savings accounts” … whatever that means. Cap V.A. health spending regardless of her many previous “go-to-war” votes, privatize Transportation Safety Administration, FAA and Amtrak, repeal the new Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law and lease out the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to all comers.

Federal budget cuts there must be. And there will be. But these and other wholesale budget-slashing floaters are all over Capitol Hill at the moment. Mostly from newcomers filled with themselves but who haven’t faced working on a federal budget. Ever.

Some of this fiscal insanity may actually get out of the House as legislation. It won’t get out of the Senate. But how much will we, who pay the bill for all this in our taxes, see wasted? My guess: hundreds of millions of dollars down the drain. At a time when pennies count, we’ll see dollars blown away rather than being used more effectively.

No, the craziest among them are not yet in charge. But they’re going to make it a lot more difficult for the saner, more responsible people who are there to get a very hard job done.

Just don’t give them the keys to anything.

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