Morning Action: No, Let’s Not Forget Benghazi
BUDGET. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is proposing two budget gimmicks to spend $85 billion more in 2013 than allowed under sequestration. Heritage outlines the gimmicks:
1. Phantom War Savings
Reid’s proposal (S. 788) suggests placing caps on war-related spending for Iraq and Afghanistan, referred to as Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), a category otherwise exempted from the Budget Control Act caps. The savings from the caps are phony because they appear to be based on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) baseline, which assumes that OCO spending will rise, even though it’s winding down.
2. Spend Now, Save Later
Even if Reid’s savings were real, his proposal would increase spending immediately by $85 billion while cutting it by that amount over the course of three years. If it takes Reid three years to offset five months of sequestration, how long would it take to replace all of sequestration with other cuts? Too darn long for them to possibly ever materialize.
Sen. Reid should stop playing games with the budget.
BENGHAZI. The events in Benghazi had an impact on America that is too significant to ignore. Though former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry would like to sweep it under the rug, forget about it, and “move on,” the House of Representatives won’t just forget (sub. req’d):
Republicans in the House of Representatives issued a 43-page progress report this week on their investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
The report—a joint product of House Armed Services; Foreign Affairs; Intelligence; Judiciary; and Oversight and Government Reform committees—faults the State Department for missing early warning signs. It also says that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s testimony before Congress earlier this year was inaccurate.
The report also says that after the attacks, “White House and senior State Department officials altered accurate talking points drafted by the Intelligence Community in order to protect the State Department.
The State Department disputes the findings. “They are not consistent with what we believe in terms of our transparency and the work that we’ve done, so we don’t agree with their conclusions,” a spokesman told reporters on Wednesday.
But the Heritage Foundation explains:
As congressional hearings revealed, security at the Benghazi consulate was woefully inadequate. When the attack happened, the President was monumentally disengaged, and the Pentagon failed to mobilize assets that might have come to the victims’ aid. In the aftermath, the President’s first action was to apologize to the Muslim world for the video, which had nothing to do with the incident. No wonder Kerry wants to get Congress to “move on.”
GUNS. Liberal groups – including Obama’s Organizing for Action and Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-freedom, anti-gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns — are fuming about the win conservatives had defending our Second Amendment rights in the Senate. They are absolutely furious that the gun-grabbing Schumer-Toomey-Manchin gun bill was defeated. These liberal groups want to make Democrats in red states pay for acting too conservatively:
The political M.O. for most red-state Democrats, especially those up for reelection next year, is to avoid issues that make them look liberal.
But after last week’s failed gun-control vote in the Senate, in which a handful of moderate Democrats defected from their party, a coalition of progressive groups is warning those at-risk incumbents to start avoiding votes that make them look too conservative. If not, these liberal activists say their support, enthusiasm, and contributions will dwindle—or, in a worst case for Democrats, they’ll mount a potentially damaging primary challenge.
The liberal anger is evident in threats from the Michael Bloomberg-funded Mayors Against Illegal Guns to run a months-long ad campaign against Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who voted against expanding background checks. Or in declarations from an official at Organizing for Action, ostensibly the political arm of President Obama, to work against senators—including the four Democrats who opposed the measure.
FAA. The Senate just passed a bill to ease the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) furloughs. The truth, however, as Sen. Coburn (R-OK) explained yesterday, is that these cuts to the FAA budget were not the real reason for flight delays. If the Obama administration, the Department of Transportation, and the FAA had wanted to make smarter cuts, they could have. Nonetheless, the Senate ignored this reality, and passed a bill to appease the political left and the media:
With flight delays mounting, the Senate approved hurry-up legislation Thursday night to end air traffic controller furloughs blamed for inconveniencing large numbers of travelers.
A House vote on the measure was expected as early as Friday, with lawmakers eager to embark on a weeklong vacation.
Under the legislation, which the Senate passed without even a roll call vote, the Federal Aviation Administration would gain authority to transfer up to $253 million from accounts that are flush into other programs, to “prevent reduced operations and staffing” through the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year.