I guess just about everyone has heard about Groupon by now but if you haven’t let me summarize: A “group coupon” is established where a certain number of people have to commit to buy before the coupon reaches the “tipping point”. If that point is reached then everyone buys. If that point is not reached then everyone gets their money back. The model solves the problem where a retailer can give a good price if and only if he/she sells a large quantity.
I want to apply this model to Congress. Right now just about everyone knows we need to cut federal spending, but nobody wants to be the guy or gal to actually do it. If a district elects a fiscally conservative representative they will likely fail to bring home their district’s fair share of pork barrel spending as they “unilaterally” vote to cut spending while all the other representatives vote to continue the practice. It only benefits the district to elect a fiscal conservative if a sufficient number of other districts do the same thing. So, I propose that we setup a “Congressional Groupon” where candidates running for office will pledge to vote to cut spending if and only if a majority of candidates from other districts make the same pledge (and are elected). If all of the candidates making the pledge are elected, such that they hold a majority in Congress, then the “tipping point” has been reached and they all vote to enact the spending cuts as pledged. Everyone shares in the pain. If they do not achieve the tipping point then none of the candidates are held to their promise and may all pursue continued deficit spending to benefit their districts.
It is impossible to enact spending cuts in a vacuum. If we can get a majority signed up for the Congressional Groupon then the voters in their districts can be confident in voting for fiscal conservatives without disproportionately hurting themselves.