In Chicago, the legend goes, whenever Mayor Daley needed a quick infusion of cash, he would order a "street sweeping." After the evening rush hour, city workers would post signs warning of a street sweeping at dawn the next day -- any car parked on the street would be slapped with a ticket.
Congressional Democrats' version of "street sweeping" is nationalizing an industry and folding its profits into the budget, thus partly paying for some radical expansion of government -- health care reform in this case.
The budget reconciliation bill being used as a sidecar to the Senate health care bill also contains a federal takeover of the student loan industry....
Over the next decade, between reduced subsidies to private lenders and interest collected from students, the expected profit is $60 billion. Student aid would be increased by about $40 billion, leaving the U.S. Treasury $19.4 billion in the black thanks to this takeover. That profit gets counted toward the reconciliation bill's score from the Congressional Budget Office, and voila! more deficit reduction from the health care reform bill.
If only Democrats had thought of this trick back in the spring, they could have budgeted in the nationalization of other profitable industries. Throw the porn industry into the Department of Health and Human Services and nationalize Exxon Mobil, and your budget score looks even better.
Why not put Goldman Sachs on the budget so that Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, in a reversal of roles, would be working for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner?