Saturday, May 26, 2007

Congress Blinks, But Not Before They Lie Too

The Deseret News has an editorial today regarding the war funding bill passed by Congress this week. They bring to light two important points. The first is that Congressional leaders backed down:
"No matter how you look at it, Democrats in Congress blinked first in their showdown with the president over war funding."

"Faced with the real possibility that they would be blamed for U.S. soldiers being shortchanged, they capitulated."

So Congress blinked. They played chicken and lost.

But, to complete their failure, they then broke their own rules and stuffed a war funding bill with domestic spending that is too controversial to pass on its own.

How about $1.2 billion for Midwestern dairy farmers? Don't bother Congress with those pesky new rules they imposed on themselves about spending increases having to be offset by cuts in other places. Nope Congress simply sneaks it into a war bill so that no one will notice.

Congress also allowed air carriers to reduce their pension plans by $2 billion, gave $425 million to Northwest counties harmed by low timber revenues, and raised the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour.

All things that apparently couldn't get done once the "100 Hours" ran out.

The Deseret News sums it up well:
"Both political parties have learned that the quickest way to pass one controversial measure is to make it a tiny part of a much larger measure that comes with high political stakes."

"But Americans should never expect an end to wasteful federal spending until lawmakers are called to account for the semi-hidden tricks they use to reward their pet causes."


Charles D said...

Obviously the Democratic Party "leadership" does not have the guts to go mano-a-mano with the most unpopular President in US history over a very unpopular war. Truly gutless.

As for the spending measures, they are minuscule when you look at the percentage of the Federal budget they represent. Compared to the $2 Trillion this unnecessary war is likely to cost, they are not worth mentioning. That's the wasteful federal spending here and it's Republican spending.

Cameron said...

It would appear that your assessment of congressional leadership is accurate.

Your spending excuses are a cop out. Billions of dollars are snuck into a totally unrelated bill because hopefully no one will notice. That's stupid.

Charles D said...

Yes, it is stupid. Both parties do it, and sometimes it is done because a measure popular with the people is being blocked by ideologues in the other party - minimum wage, for example.

However, it is important to recognize that when we talk about runaway spending, we are talking about the Republican party. When we talk huge expenditures that bring no benefit whatever to the American people, we are talking about the Republican Party. Sure the Dems aren't pure either, but the size and nature of the runaway spending is what hurts the nation.

Cameron said...

I hate to break it to you, but Congress is run by Democrats. I realize that in your world all Republicans are eeeevil, but it was Democrats that controlled this particular spending bill, and Democrats that control how the budget will look going forward.

If the Republicans are responsible for the "out of control spending" of the past, then surely your benevolent Democrats will cut all that spending and reduce the size of the budget. Won't they?

Charles D said...

The huge deficit run up in the last 6 years was under a Republican Congress with a Republican President who did not veto anything at all. The last federal budget submitted by a Democratic President totalled $1.8 trillion. This year's budget, submitted and passed by Republicans totalled $2.8 trillion. That's a shocking 55% increase in 6 years.

Compared to the few million the Dems added in pork to that bill, it's peanuts. Also consider that the last time Dems were in control of the White House and Congress (1994), the total cost of earmarks was $1.2B. Last year under Republican control, earmarks totaled $29B. (data from Citizens Against Gov't Waste)

By any measure, the fiscal irresponsibility of Republicans exceeds anything done by Democrats, and has the not incidental disadvantage of doing nothing to help Americans, protect America, or improve our quality of life.

Cameron said...

Pork is pork, DL. And it wasn't "a few million" as you would have us believe. The dairy industry alone got $1.2 Billion (that's billion, with a "B"). Even more telling is that the pork was basically bribery.

Like I said DL, surely the new Democratic Congress will reduce the budget drastically in response to the overzealous spending of its predecessors. Right?

Incidentally, the spending you highlight is the main reason the Republican party no longer controls the Congress. We'll have to wait and see if Democratic leadership will face the same punishment from its constituency.