Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, September 14, 2012

House Passes Buck on Cutting Budget

 In order to avoid a politically-embarrassing government shut-down just before the November election, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a six-month stopgap government funding bill by a vote of 329-91.

Next week, the Senate is expected to approve the same measure, which will provide funding for agencies for the first six months of the fiscal year (October to March).  In attempt to sidestep a political showdown before the election, Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, left the campaign trail to go to Washington to cast a vote in favor of the message.

Ryan’s vote was a message to members of the GOP freshman caucus to agree to a measure that will set a $1.047 trillion funding level, according to the Washington Post, for the first half of the year, the same amount that figured in the deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling last year.

Most Republicans went along with the bill in order to avoid a budget battle in the shadow of the upcoming election.  They would have preferred deeper spending cuts, along the lines of Ryan’s own budget, which would set funding for the fiscal year at $1.028 million.

“We have to pass this important bill to maintain the continuity of our government and to prevent its shutdown,” said Representative Harold Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The Washington Post reports that the conservative Club for Growth (as well as the Tea Party Patriots) “had urged Congress to oppose the bill, arguing that it did not cut spending deeply enough.

“The stopgap measure means spending policies in place for the past year will merely be extended for another six months, with a slight funding boost.

According to Reuters News Service, “By keeping the government's agencies and discretionary programs funded through March 27, lawmakers buy themselves some breathing room in the post-election "lame duck" session to tackle more difficult questions - how to avoid $109 billion in automatic budget cuts that start on January 2, and whether to extend some or all of the tax cuts enacted under former President George W Bush, which expire December 31.

“The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the U.S. economy will experience another recession next year if these issues are not resolved. Moody's Investors Service warned on Tuesday that the United States could lose its top-tier credit rating if Congress fails to take action to reduce U.S. debt.”

“Rival ratings agency Standard and Poor's cut its U.S. rating last year after a grueling battle over raising the debt limit brought the government to the brink of a historic debt default.

“That standoff resulted in a budget deal that led to the automatic spending cuts, known as a sequester, which were intended as a painful incentive for Congress to come up with $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction. That approach failed and a "meat axe" of $109 billion in across-the-board cuts evenly split between domestic spending and military programs is scheduled to fall on Jan. 2, 2013.

The Washington Post notes, “Members of both parties say they would prefer to update policies, based on a reexamination of priorities and program efficiencies. However, it proved impossible for Congress to come to an agreement on the updated full-year appropriations measures, making the short-term extension necessary.

“Passage of the continuing resolution means funds will be available to keep the government running through March, after President Obama or Mitt Romney are sworn in as president in January.

“But it does nothing to avert deep automatic spending cuts and dramatic tax increases now scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, which the Congressional Budget Office has said could send the country back into recession.

“On a party-line 223 to 196 vote, the House also passed a measure Thursday that would require Obama to produce a plan to avert military cuts, a symbolic gesture intended to show Republican resolve to avert Defense Department reductions.

“The Senate has no plans to take up that measure, and Congress will take up real negotiations over how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff after the election.”

This is a fine time for our representatives to realize that we’re about to go over a fiscal cliff.  Instead of backing us away from the fiscal cliff, they’ve stopped the car on the edge of that cliff, teetering back and forth while they try to wrest control of the national steering wheel away from one another.


With the country now $16 trillion dollars in debt, it’s hard to imagine how they could justify spending another dime.  But that’s what happens when any addict tries to quit cold turkey, including spending addicts, when deprived of their substance of choice:  they sweat and tremble, they weep and rage, they can’t sleep and pace the floor desperately trying to think of a way to get their “fix”.  Without it, they’ll go off the deep end, and take us with them.



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