December’s Ryan-Murray budget deal was a bad deal for a number of reasons. One of the primary reasons was that it set discretionary spending limit for Fiscal Year 2014 ($1.012 trillion) a full $45 billion above the level that would have been required by sequestration ($967 billion). While the budget number represents a spending limit, meaning Congress can (and should) spend well below that number in upcoming appropriations, there are policy provisions the House should be demanding in negotiations right now as part of any omnibus package of appropriations bills regardless of the ultimate top-line number.
Were you aware that your taxpayer money is used to fund a pet-shampoo company? It is.
We’re not kidding. How, you ask? The funds are channeled through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to a pet-shampoo company. Why? That’s an even better question.
But that’s not the only problem with the CDBG program. It also issues risky business loans and duplicates other housing and economic development programs, wasting $3.1 billion in the process.
Now that Congress has agreed on a budget deal, the next step in the process is to appropriate the funds for various programs, from agriculture to transportation. The outcome of this process will be about more than just numbers.
Indeed, according the the House of Representatives, the budget is more than just a bunch of numbers:
The budget resolution is the only legislative vehicle that views government comprehensively. It provides the framework for the consideration of other legislation. Ultimately, a budget is much more than series of numbers. It also serves as an expression of Congress’s principles, vision, and philosophy of governing.
Wednesday evening, as Senators finished voting on the so-called Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, better known as Ryan-Murray, the internal document Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 7% used to sell the deal to her Democrat colleagues began landing in inboxes all around Washington. The document, entitled “The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 is a Good Deal for Families, Communities, and the Economy,” portrays the deal as a significant win for Democrats.
After details became public, Heritage Action suggested the deal was “a significant achievement for the president, who believes that government spending is a panacea to America’s economic woes.” Unfortunately, the contents of the Democrats’ internal document portray it as such.
Our nation is one step closer to a $63 billion spending increase, thanks to a group of Republican Senators who joined Senate Democrats to invoke cloture, or end debate, on the budget deal. The Washington Post reports:
A bipartisan deal to roll back sharp spending cuts known as the sequester easily cleared a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, ensuring that the agreement will be passed and sent to President Obama in the coming days.
Senators voted 67 to 33 to end debate and proceed to final passage on the budget agreement. A final vote could come as soon as Tuesday evening if Senate Republicans agree to speed things up. Otherwise, the chamber is likely to send the measure to the White House late Wednesday.
Passage of the budget measure was secured Monday when Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah) and Johnny Isakson (Ga.) joined fellow Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Ronald H. Johnson (Wis.) in announcing they would help the Senate’s 55 Democrats assemble the 60 votes needed to clear a critical procedural vote and end debate on the budget measure.
This is a huge mistake, as we’ve explained here and here. Proponents of the budget deal say it will help prevent another government shutdown, but it will actually reduce conservatives’ leverage to prevent further spending increases:
According to the Washington Post, “After more than two years of constant crisis, the emerging agreement amounts to little more than a cease fire. Republicans and Democrats are abandoning their debt-reduction goals, laying down arms and, for the moment, trying to avoid another…standoff.” In short, this agreement is an effort to limit the number of fiscal standoffs over the next two years. Each of these standoffs have led to sustained public attention on the $17 trillion national debt and a seemingly bipartisan inability to get the country’s fiscal house in order. This public attention has been good for the country, and these standoffs have provided leverage points necessary to control spending with a liberal Senate and White House.