Even before the infamous sequester, the sequence of congressional appropriations measures held tremendous significance. By passing the defense appropriations bill last, big-government lawmakers could typically increase spending on the 11 other measures above their allocations while knowing the legislative and executive branches would never squeeze defense spending to fit within the overall discretionary spending target.
While different in a post-sequester world, sequencing is even more important to big-government lawmakers determined to violate the discretionary spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and the failure of the so-called super committee.
This delicate dance began in earnest this week. CQ Roll Call (sub. req’d) reported:
Appropriators approved the bill (HR 2216) by voice vote [in committee in May], and there is expected to be broad support for it in the chamber. … The largely bipartisan Military Construction-[Veterans’ Affairs] bill would provide $152.8 billion, including $73.3 billion for discretionary spending, a $1.4 billion increase over the fiscal 2013 enacted level and $2.4 billion more than that level after the sequester. The across-the-board cuts affected military construction accounts but not veterans’ spending. (emphasis added)
Because of the sequester, the discretionary spending cap for FY14 is lower than the FY13 cap. If appropriations for MilCon-VA increase as total discretionary spending decreases, other appropriations measures will have to be reduced by even more.
If this is a good faith effort to reallocate and prioritize federal spending, subsequent appropriations bills brought before the House will follow the levels outlined in the chart below.
In the coming months, you will face tremendous pressure to accept a deal to raise our nation’s debt ceiling. Conservatives around the country will insist the debt ceiling not be raised unless our nation gets on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years and stays balanced. This is not an arbitrary marker; rather, it is the marker laid out by the entire House Republican Conference in what has become known as the Williamsburg Accord.
Conservatives cannot enter into the debt ceiling debate without understanding the promise of the Williamsburg Accord.
On January 18, four current and former chairmen of the Republican Study Committee announced an agreement to re-sequence the 2013 fiscal fights. In exchange for holding the line on the sequester and producing a budget that balanced in ten years, conservatives agreed to postpone the debt ceiling debate for several months. In turn, the debate on the debt ceiling would revolve around enacting the policies that put the federal budget on the path to 10-year balance.
A few days later, Speaker Boehner declared, “It’s time for us to come to a plan that will in fact balance the budget over the next 10 years.” He said it was the GOP’s “commitment to the American people.”
Costly and ineffective are two words that can be used to describe a countless number of government programs. The federal government’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is no exception. TAA doesn’t work; it costs taxpayers a lot of money; and it contains within it special treatment for union workers. Unfortunately, President Obama’s 2009 failed stimulus expanded TAA.
Besides being costly and ineffective, the TAA is unnecessary and unjust. It is unnecessary because just 1 percent of jobs lost in mass layoffs is caused by overseas relocations or import competition.
Also, the Department of Labor’s Dislocated Workers Program already provides basic services to laid-off workers, and they are not nearly as extravagant as those provided to recipients of TAA. The government should not single out one group of unemployed people to receive better benefits than the rest of unemployed Americans.
It is unjust for workers who have lost their job due to foreign trade to receive better benefits than a worker who loses a job due to other factors. As Heritage’s James Sherk explains:
The government should not discriminate between workers who lose their jobs because of trade and workers who lose their jobs for other reasons. The worker who loses his job to a foreign competitor should receive the same treatment as the Blockbuster employee who lost his job to Netflix.
Before you rush to celebrate last month’s unemployment rate that ticked down to 7.6 percent from 7.7 percent, consider what has happened to labor force participation. The labor force participation rate fell to 63.3 percent
, its lowest level since 1979. In fact, Austan Goolsbee, former chair of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, called the March jobs report
a “punch to the gut.”
Of course, the White House is singing the same old tune: it’s the sequester’s fault! But Heritage Foundation experts predicted this reaction last month when they explained:
Looking ahead, policymakers need not fear slower job growth due to the recent sequestration, which will force the federal government to cut $85 billion in budget authority this year. That will slow the growth of 2013 spending by only about $42 billion.
The federal cuts from sequestration, which will be enacted gradually over the next two years, should not negatively impact private-sector job growth. Economists Alberto Alesina, Carlo Favero, and Francesco Giavazzi have found that spending-based corrections are followed by little decline in gross domestic product (GDP), with recovery following within a year.
The Obama administration wants to replace the sequester with a so-called balanced approach; however, their idea of balanced is more taxes and ultimately more spending. Increased taxes – like the higher payroll taxes imposed upon us by the fiscal cliff deal – will not contribute to economic improvement.
Conservatives like our maple syrup as much as the next person. But is it the place of the federal government to hand out federal taxpayer dollars to encourage the development of maple syrup production on privately held land in upstate New York?
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) thinks so. He has proposed the Maple Tap Act, which he would like to insert into the trillion-dollar farm bill. Sen. Schumer said:
Despite reports that tapping season has begun, hundreds of millions of untapped trees are just sitting there, full of a lucrative natural resource that could propel New York to the top of the maple industry, as well as provide a huge economic boost and new jobs to maple-rich Clinton County.
The program by which this would be accomplished would be run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which conducted a survey of 10 states last year finding that New York ranked second only to Vermont in maple syrup production. And the state has 500 entrepreneurs that produce maple syrup.