Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pay As You Go And Afghanistan War Funding


Pay-as-you-go budget restrictions have been rules in the House and in the Senate but aren't laws. Some conservative Democrats-- always eager to prove their conservatism to constituents who don't care all that much about arcane budgetary laws, only about racism, homophobia and xenophobia-- have been pushing to chuck the rules-- which are, after all, easily gotten-around guidelines that Bush certainly ignored to the tune of at least a trillion dollars-- and make them laws.

On Wednesday, after being alerted by Rep. Barbara Lee, we looked at how Steny Hoyer introduced a bill, subsequently passed by the House on July 22, that does just that-- codifies pay-as-you-go. There are a lot of exemptions, however-- one being war spending. Yesterday I spoke with at least a dozen members of the House and Senate and not a single one had a real understanding of the bill that was passed in the House and is up for a vote in the Senate! I spoke to both Democrats and Republicans and every single one of them explained the bill differently to such an extent that it was clear (at least to me) that they had all voted on what they thought were different bills.

What's important here-- at least from one perspective-- is that Hoyer seemed to be offering Obama, probably at Rahm Emanuel's behest, an opportunity to keep Supplemental Budget war-funding going without calling it that. Why? Because they can spend whatever they want without the unpleasant tasks of either raising taxes or cutting social programs. It just means they'll add on to the bankrupting of America that the Bush Regime brought so far down the road. And that brings us to the Senate, where H.R, 2920 is currently stalled. I didn't understand why one of the bill's primary opponents, Rep. Lee, was somewhat optimistic that the even more conservative Senate would stop the bill. Last month the CQ Weekly budgetary report tried getting a grip on it's prospects for passage, which gave me more insight.
Senate leaders have not made passing such legislation a priority this year. Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad D-N.D., opposes the specific House and Obama proposals, while saying he supports the concept.

Under the administration proposal and the bill passed by the House in July, a “scorecard” would be kept of the cost of legislation enacted by Congress during each session. If the tally showed a deficit, there would be an automatic across-the-board cut to non-exempt programs to put the scorecard back in balance.

Republicans have been critical of the proposals, noting they would exempt several costly initiatives from pay-as-you-go requirements and do not include caps on discretionary spending, which were also in place during the 1990s.

Like Obama’s plan, the House bill would exempt potential legislation that would make per-manent many of the tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 (PL 107-16, PL 108-27), permanently prevent the alternative minimum tax from hitting more taxpayers, extend the current estate tax law, and prevent cuts in Medicare payments to physicians. Unlike in the House, the Obama proposal would exempt all of the provisions in the 2001 and 2003 laws, including cuts for high-income earners. But the difference may be inconsequential because the administration has no intention of pushing for an extension of cuts to the wealthy.

Conrad will be the key to whether a bill advances in the Senate. He opposes the House bill, arguing that the exempted policies are too expensive and that a statutory pay-as-you-go proposal should be included in a broader deficit and debt reduction effort.

Meanwhile, no one but a handful of House liberals is talking about the impact on Afghanistan war funding.

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At 3:52 PM, Blogger shvt said...

Enough Money Spent on War. Let's bring our kids home and let the Afghani's figure out their own future.

This War is going nowhere.


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