Monday, March 28, 2016

Republicans Can't Pass A Budget Now-- Imagine How Much Worse It Will Get If Trump Or Cruz Is The Nominee!


In theory, when Miss McConnell and Senate Budget Committee chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) get bogged down trying to get a budget through the Senate, they can blame Bernie, at least in the Budget Committee-- he's the Ranking Democrat-- and Democratic Senate leaders Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer. Budget Committee members, like ritually obstructionist Chuck Grassley, Pat Toomey, Ron Johnson and Kelly Ayotte whine about the Democrats blocking their crackpot schemes for cutting Social Security and Medicare in the guise of "a budget." That's how the Senate works... or doesn't. So both sides can point fingers at each other... or work out a compromise, which is, in fact, what happens.

In the House, however, blame for a stalled budget has nothing to do with the Democrats. Speaker Ryan (the former Budget Committee Chair) and Tom Price (the current chair) can't blame Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat, because he's being paid off by the same Wall Street evil-doers who are paying them off and rarely stands in their way. Besides, the Democrats don't have the power to meaningfully and effectively stand in their way. There are no filibusters in the House and Ryan can do whatever he wants... as long as he has his party unified behind him. The Senate Dems can still filibuster it when gets across the Capitol (or Obama could veto it, if it ever gets that far), but none of that is what's keeping Ryan and his Republican-controlled House from passing a budget. Like conservative parties everywhere, they're incapable of governing.

Now that it's finally starting to dawn on even the most clueless Beltway media organizations that Ryan actually is running for president, Budget negotiations are about to get even more impossible-- or, perhaps, the way for the establishment to stop Trump (and Cruz) while bolstering Ryan. Ryan doesn't plan to push his toxicity but what the Beltway media imbeciles call "his youth and sunny, Reaganesque message," his faux-reluctance to run and his ability to "sound presidential," or at least relatively presidential in comparison to the sandbox circus currently taking the place of a GOP primary.

Yesterday, Fox News termed Ryan and the GOP's inability to pass a budget a little astonishing. Other conservatives find it a lot astonishing. Price has some radical right ideologues on his committee-- bitter, angry sociopaths obsessed with shutting down the government, like Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Diane Black (R-TN), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), Dave Brat (R-VA), Frank Guinta (R-NH), Rod Blum (R-IA) and Glenn Grothman (R-WI), a fringe lunatic who's looking for a way to use the budget to end weekends for working men and women. The only Democrat besides Van Hollen who Price has backing him up is New Jersey machine politician Donald Norcross.
“The leadership has been on a listening tour for three months,” said Rep. Dave Brat, R-Va. “We have to go back to constituents and say we made up for the crap sandwich. Made up for the barn cleaning.”

What Brat refers to is a plan President Obama forged last fall with then-House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to “clean the barn” for the next speaker.

Both houses of Congress approved the package, and Obama signed it into law. Only 79 House GOPers voted in favor of the measure in late October-- including new House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

The deal established what’s called “discretionary” spending numbers for this fiscal year and fiscal 2017, which begins in October 1.

...[H]ere’s the issue: Congressional conservatives are pushing for $30 billion in reforms to mandatory spending programs. That could reduce the discretionary number to $1.047 trillion. That would make it challenging for the House to approve annual spending bills to fund the government after October 1.

Conservatives have pushed for deep cuts and reductions since Republicans claimed the House in 2010. They made minimal progress in the debt-ceiling agreement of 2011 that resulted in sequestration-- deep, required spending limitations on the discretionary side of the ledger.

But the mandatory spending side is much larger than the discretionary side. That’s why reforms to entitlements make more impact. And conservatives want proof that savings aren’t fiscal fairy dust.

“It needs to be real,” Jordan said.

What counts as “real?” A plan Obama would in fact sign into law.

“That would be pretty real,” Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said when asked about moving a measure that would earn the president’s signature.

“It’s got to be this year,” said Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas. “Real cuts that actually get signed into law.”

Conservatives think the GOP-led House has never made good on promises lawmakers made to constituents to reduce overall federal spending. Hence, that’s why they want to show they’re making amends for Boehner’s barn cleaning.

That’s why Republicans can’t cobble together the votes to approve a budget. The Republican brass needs the help of at least some of the 40-plus members who comprise the House Freedom Caucus. But there will be no budget if party divisions remain this deep.

...The House Budget Committee last week approved a budget that balances the books in a decade and slashes spending by $6.5 trillion.

Included in that budget is a repeal of ObamaCare. But keep in mind that congressional budgets aren’t binding and not signed into law. They’re aspirational.

The panel passed the budget. However, Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., knew there were several GOPers who voted yes in committee who would vote no on the budget on the floor. Dave Brat and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., voted no in committee.

There’s a problem with not doing a budget. Failing to agree to an overall topline for mandatory and discretionary spending makes it virtually impossible for lawmakers to begin approving annual appropriations bills that fund the government.

..[I]f the House can’t OK a budget at all-- or even deem a budget-- it’s likely Congress is stuck and must approve a gigantic interim spending bill in September to avoid a government shutdown.

Only some Republicans would be likely to vote for it. The GOP leaders would probably again turn to Democrats to bail them out.

And this is precisely what got Boehner in trouble with House Republicans: leaning on Democrats all the time to do the tough stuff.

A stopgap spending bill means the military construction/VA measure gets less money-- as do all of the other appropriations bills in the big, catchall bill.

That’s because not doing a budget and relying on old spending figure kicks the total discretionary figure back to what the government is spending this year: $1.067 trillion-- a cut of $3 billion.

As former House Budget Committee chairman, Ryan is the high priest of budgets. He authored multiple fiscal blueprints that Republicans embraced. He chastised Democrats when they failed to produce budgets.

This is why Ryan and Republicans know why it’s so important to produce a budget and adopt it on the floor. This is all on them. But as speaker, Ryan can only attest to the virtues of budgeting. This fight is internal, Republicans on Republicans.

Or, more accurately, a fight between the conservatives Ryan leads and the reactionaries and anarchists who follow Cruz. Can you imagine how toxic a battle over the budget with a government shutdown looming will be if either Trump or Cruz is the Republican Party nominee? Can you imagine the low the level of debate will sink-- and how rapidly? It underlines how crucial it is for progressives to gain clout in the Senate. Schumer is going to be looking for opportunities to make deals with the Republicans that benefit his financiers on Wall Street. The Senate Democrats don't have the guts or the will to stand up to him. Schumer is as much a threat to working families as Mitch McConnell is-- in some ways more! Blue America hasn't endorsed many candidates for the Senate this year-- just Alan Grayson (FL), Donna Edwards (MD) and Russ Feingold (WI) so far. And we're in the process of vetting progressives running against Pat Toomey (PA), Rand Paul (KY) and Chuck Grassley (IA). Meanwhile...
Goal Thermometer

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