A Rebuttal of Senator Stevens and the Binding Caucus Rule
by Michael Chambers
In a recent publication, Senator Stevens begins his support of a Binding Caucus by stating that without a Binding Caucus we would abandon "Democratic Government" and chaos would ensue.
Perhaps someone should contact Senator Stevens and explain the difference between "Democratic Government" and a "Republican form of government." In fact, the Binding Caucus rule undermines direct equal republican representative government by the use of bribery and coercion to control and support the "rulings of the Chair." Does this sound like the representative form of government enshrined by our US Constitution?
Senator Stevens goes on to address the historic record of the origins of a "Binding Caucus" indicating that Democrats were "unable to control or hold control of the US Senate since the Civil War" and they were "able to share legislation by adopting a caucus rule."
I find it fascinating that a Republican Senator would promote Democrat Party strategy in its ability to design and develop a caucus rule.
Senator Stevens further states that "one way ~ maybe the only way ~ to achieve a budget is through a binding caucus rule." He also states that the "caucus agenda is a reflection of its majority members so therefore it is a reflection of the Alaskans they represent." Really? How many Alaskans believe our representatives should be bribed and coerced to "maintain budgetary control?"
Senator Stevens continues by stating that the Binding Caucus Rule is in place to "Maintain Party Unity" but then he flippantly makes reference to "free will" if you choose not to join the majority and not receive your trinkets associated with being a team member that is an individual choice.
The senator states that "everyone has ( input ) in the budget process through the subcommittee meetings. What he fails to disclose is the substantial power the Chair and Co-Chairs of committees have on the product which advances past these committees. The fix is in.
The senator alludes to the idea that we would have endless "special sessions without a Binding Caucus Rule. The real truth is we have been experiencing substantial special sessions in the last few years even with a Binding Caucus Rule.
It should be noted that Alaska happens to the only state in the nation which operates under the Binding Caucus Rule. Why is it these other states in the union get their financial business done without a caucus rule but in Alaska it would ensure eminent chaos?
So, the real question is, why has the Binding Caucus come to light recently if we have been operating under the Binding Caucus Rule for decades?
Until recently, Alaska was flush with cash. Our exploded state budget is a direct reflection of this unrestrained increase in government across all departments of government.
Since 2014 when Oil reserves diminished substantially, State government, through our representatives, have proven that it is impossible to reign in the excess of government. In fact, we have blown through over $14 billion in savings in a very short period of time and I strongly suggest the "root cause" of our inability to reign in government is by condensing the financial decision making to a select group of legislators who seem to promote special interests and big government more that living within our means.
Ultimately the Binding Caucus Rule will be the reason why we will lose the PFD program entirely, and be confronted with a host of "designer taxes" which will be closely followed by a broader statewide taxing formula, all because our legislators do not have the ability to effectively argue the merits of a balanced budget. The fix is in.
In conclusion, it only takes 51% of each legislative body to pass a budget. I would suggest if our representative bodies in Juneau can not develop a budget which is supported by 51% perhaps it is bad legislation and thus reflects on poor representation.