It’s good to know that Carly Fiorina is 90% sure that she’ll be a Republican candidate for president and that she’s bringing her ‘A’ game with some really great ideas.

Right of the box, she recommends zero-based budgeting, which is probably an even more sub-mental idea that you imagine. It’s true that administrations submit a budget plan, but Congress controls the pursestrings and they don’t waste time reevaluating the need for every single item in the federal budget. For starters, there’s the non-discretionary budget, the size of which varies more through changes in demographics and the economy than through adjustments for inflation. In 2011, it made up 56 percent of the overall budget, and interest payments made up another approximately seven percent. In any case, when it comes to the discretionary budget, the congressional appropriations committees set the rate of increase or decrease and typically don’t simply tag it to inflation. Of course, with Sequestration, the appropriations committees lose this discretion.

Fiorina justifies the need for zero-based budgeting using a curious argument.

“Washington, D.C. has become a vast and unaccountable bureaucracy. It’s been growing for 40 years,” she opined. “We have no idea how our money is spent.”

Either this is an acknowledgment that the Reagan Revolution roughly corresponds with an era of unaccountable spending and government growth or it is a rigorous defense of New Deal fiscal discipline and streamlined bureaucratic efficiency. I think it’s actually both, although not intentionally.

Speaking of streamlined bureaucratic efficiency in the Reagan Era, Ms. Fiorina has another idea.

“We have — how many Inspector General reports do we need to read that say, you know, you can watch porn all day long and get paid exactly the same way as somebody who’s trying to do their job?”

Her solution is to introduce “pay for performance in our civil service.” That way, she can get at-work porn-watching back to a manageable level, hopefully around the rate we saw in the early Ford administration. Of course, there’s probably no way that Fiorina can fail to improve on the Reagan administration, as James Dobson, Ed Meese, and Henry Hudson watched more porn than the combined populations of the next eleven largest nations combined. Their report was more lurid than Kenneth Starr’s.

So, it’s good to know that Ms. Fiorina is proposing manageable goals. Her plans are like a Swiss watch.

[Cross-posted at Progress Pond]

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at