Resolutions and Incentives

Another reason to oppose the assorted no-confidence resolutions floating around in Congress: they box Members and Senators in too tightly. Congress is anxious to distance itself from perceived failure in Iraq and (in light of same) its past votes. By doing so, Members and Senators set up an unfortunate payoff structure: they are vindicated if Iraq slides further into chaos with greater loss of Iraqi and American life, and discredited if Gen. Petraeus succeeds.

Since I am a markets guy and believe in rational actors and incentives, I think this matters. Having set up these incentives, can Congress withstand the temptation to influence the outcome? These resolutions may set up a natural, self-fulfilling majority for a 1974-style break-and-run. Boneless Wonders indeed.

UPDATE: Lawrence J. Haas outlines the potential consequences for Congressional Democrats should Iraq ultimately succeed (via Neo-Neocon). “At some point, the nation will recapture its spirit. Taunted by our enemies or attacked directly, Americans will look to the party that is ready to respond in kind. Will Democrats once more be on the losing end?”

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds thinks so too.

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