This past weekend I posted about the supposedly "historic"--yet utterly ridiculous--deal between Congressional Republican and Democrat leaders, which averted a federal government shutdown by cutting $38.5 billion from the budget for the remainder of fiscal 2011. A fact not widely noted when the deal was struck was that that amounted to all of about 1 percent of total federal expenditures for the year (as one commentator noted, "If the government were a family living on $60,000 a year, that's equal to a $600 cut."), and left travesties like ObamaCare and abortion factory Planned Parenthood fully funded with our tax money. Final details of the agreement had yet to be put to paper and voted on by the end of this week.
Those details finally emerged yesterday, and show that the budget deal was not only weak and a disappointment, but an almost complete sham and a brazen insult to the intelligence of the American people. According to a story from the Associated Press, "[t]he historic $38 billion in budget cuts resulting from at-times hostile bargaining between Congress and the Obama White House were accomplished in large part by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway."
The details of the agreement reached late Friday night just ahead of a deadline for a partial government shutdown reveal a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially "score" as cuts to pay for spending elsewhere, but often have little to no actual impact on the deficit. As a result of the legerdemain, Obama was able to reverse many of the cuts passed by House Republicans in February when the chamber approved a bill slashing this year's budget by more than $60 billion.The story notes that in exchange for these illusory "cuts," the White House foiled GOP attempts to block global warming rules by the EPA, new rules governing the Internet, federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and financing for the enforcement new health care regulations.
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[T]he cuts that actually will make it into law are far tamer, including cuts to earmarks, unspent census money, leftover federal construction funding, and $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can't be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. Another $3.5 billion comes from unused spending authority from a program providing health care to children of lower-income families.
About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks . . . Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.
Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule - used for years by appropriators - placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.
Another AP story points out that "the budget cuts come after two years of generous increases awarded to domestic accounts when Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House," and that:
M]any of the cuts officially unveiled on Tuesday are illusory. Almost $18 billion - just less than half - involve simply mopping up pools of unused money spread across the budget. While still counting as cuts, the money from those pools can be used to shore up day-to-day agency budgets and other programs like health research. Admittedly, those cuts don't reduce the deficit.In light of the budget deal's transparent emptiness and the tricks out of which it's made, conservatives' criticism of the compromise is growing, and a number of influential members of Congress, including Reps. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), plan to vote against it. Thank the Lord there are a few sensible, honest, and courageous people in Congress. One only wonders about the so-called "leaders" who crafted and supported the deal, especially Speaker of the House John Boehner--what were they thinking? Are they that stupid or that gullible, or are they actually in bed with the Democrats and the Obama administration? How stupid and gullible to they think we common people are? Did they assume we wouldn't notice, or not care?
What's just as disheartening is that so many freshman representatives, elected in November 2010 on a platform of fiscal restraint, have fallen into lockstep with the Republican establishment leadership to support this sham compromise. If your representative is one of them, you should call or email his/her office as soon as possible and loudly voice your displeasure--and keep a weather eye on his/her positions and future voting records in Congress. If they don't do the job you sent them to Washington to do, they should be sent packing in the next election and replaced with someone who, as best you can tell, will. We need representatives who will not just talk the talk of responsible government, but walk the walk--no matter how "radical," "extreme," or even "uncivil" the liberal establishment and media portray them.
We have to make it clear to those in Washington that, no matter what they may think, we weren't Born Yesterday.