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  • Morning Bell: An 11th-Hour Spending Deal That Comes Up Short

    With Christmas just a week away and the new year nearly upon us, Congress came within a whisper of yet another potential government shutdown and once again demonstrated its inability to make substantive spending cuts and deliver the American people the reforms necessary to secure America’s fiscal future. Rather than produce a timely budget by way of standard operating procedure, congressional leaders again butted up against the deadline and reached a deal on a trillion-dollar “mega-omnibus” nine-bill appropriations package that sadly is yet another disappointing failure to rein in government spending.

    Patrick Louis Knudsen, the Grover M. Hermann Senior Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs at The Heritage Foundation, explains that the deal, which is expected to be voted on today, comes up far short in instilling fiscal discipline in Washington and, equally troubling, “allows everyone to vote for something he likes, while taxpayers pick up the tab”:

    The main omnibus measure, formally the Final Consolidated Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2055), spends a total of $914.8 billion in annualized budget authority (BA) for fiscal year 2012, which started on October 1. (Agencies covered by the nine bills have been funded by continuing resolutions until now.)

    When the legislation is added to the three spending bills already enacted, total discretionary BA for the year comes to $1,042.9 billion. That is effectively equal to the bloated $1.043 trillion cap in the ironically named Budget Control Act (BCA)–the product of the summer’s debt ceiling debate–and is $31.6 billion above the House-passed budget resolution.

    Knudsen explains that while the mega-omnibus deal is over-the-top in spending, it falls short in other areas. Chiefly, it provides too little for national security. The $518 billion for defense in the deal is just slightly above 2011 levels and far below the $530 billion passed by the House earlier in the year–which was also lower than what is needed to maintain America’s defense capabilities.

    And while some might spin the $1.043 trillion figure as a victory, that price tag doesn’t truly represent how much Congress will spend. In addition to the mega-omnibus deal, Knudsen writes, the House will consider an additional $8.1 billion “disaster” relief measure to pay for past events like Hurricane Irene or even, believe it or not, Hurricane Katrina! And, when combined with earlier spending amounts, brings disaster spending to $10.4 billion over and above the spending limits in the bloated BCA. Heritage explains that these disaster funds are a misguided use of taxpayer dollars. What’s more, though the deal attempts to pay for that spending with budget offsets, Knudsen says those likely won’t occur, meaning that Washington spending will increase, as usual.

    And that’s what’s so disappointing about the plan. It has been some 1,000 days since the Senate passed a budget–it is clear that fiscal discipline is not emerging from that chamber anytime soon. And the House, which in April passed a budget resolution that would have set America on a stronger fiscal path, began the year with such great promise. The new leadership in Washington, ushered in by the Tea Party wave of 2010, pledged to be serious stewards of the people’s pocketbook. With last night’s mega-omnibus bill, those who were eager to right the fiscal ship have been silenced by leadership that prefers bigger government, higher spending, and slinking out of the Capitol with an appropriations package that comes up short by spending too much.

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    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    39 Responses to Morning Bell: An 11th-Hour Spending Deal That Comes Up Short

    1. John Parker says:

      The Deadline – Midnight 12/16/1773
      As one "deadline" after another in the Debt crisis goes by, I am
      reminded of another "deadline" faced by the patriots of Boston in
      December of 1773. Unless they took action by the 16th, the Tea would
      be landed and the Tax on it would become law.

      More than 5000 of them crowded into Old South Meeting House on that cold, rainy morning determined to prevent landing of the Tea, "whatever the consequences". In this latest attempt at "Taxation without Representation" their relations with the British parliament had reached a tipping point. By midnight they would either make history, or, be history, risking all, one might say, to "get the gov't off their backs"

      • Robert, TX says:

        Yes, and they did all that to avoid a tax that amounted to less than 2%, so we could really use some of these type patriots today.

    2. Bernard P. Giroux says:

      Send them all back and vote in term limits.

    3. Robert, TX says:

      A solid article that is incomplete because you do not give full credit to the people responsible for this latest disgrace. John Boehner is not the most incompetent person to sit in the Speaker's chair – a tough job – considering the failures of Dennis (the Menace) Hastert. Plus, his Oscar-deserving, best supporting actor Mitch McConnell. Little johnny couldn't have "done" it without ya, Mitch. Oh, I'm sorry, it's big, bad Obama's fault.

    4. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Why do we not realize both Democrat and Republican leaders in Washington do not listen, and do not intent to listen to the American voter. They do not fear not bein reelected because they know the game is rigged. Without the ability of the voters to have a third political party to choose from, nothing in Washington will change. Ask the question: why is the old, established GOP so hell bent to destroy any true conservative? Because the know full well a valid conservative party, that nominates true conservatives canidates, will be the end of their thiefdom.

    5. Curt Krehbiel says:

      If 40% of each dollar spent is borrowed money, just imagine how much more money they would have to spend if the national debt were paid off and fiscal responsibility prevailed.

    6. sdfultz says:

      Good morning,
      Do you guys / gals have an archived article about the mis spending budget busting article on the war?

    7. ThomNJ says:

      I think it is time for people in all the states to hold new elections – forget the current crop of politicians – let's organize new elections for the House, the Senate and the presidency – throw all of the encumbents out and just start over. It couldn't be any worse. Have all the newly elected candidates march into DC with a contingent of folks from every state and march the incumbents and their staffs right out the door.

      Okay – so it is a fantasy. What else we got? Violence? I'd rather my fantasy.

      • Dara says:

        I've been dreaming the same dream! Send them ALL packing – save taxpayers some big bucks by cutting out of ALL of their bennies/pensions – and start over! … with term limits AND a Balanced Budget Amendment (put in place by We the People) – Oh! and no one who's in there now would be allowed to run either!

        Get rid of anything that's NOT government responsibilty as laid out in the Constitution. (SS/Medicare would have to be phased out – as many seniors depend on those…) however, getting rid of the Alphabet Agencies/duplications, etc. would save a bundle of taxpayer dollars. The deletion of regs by those agencies would create a boom in jobs… win/win!

        THAT would certainly 'drain the swamp' and return us to our former prosperous America.

        *sigh* and then I wake up.

    8. Edward P.Woolley says:

      The day of reconning is approaching fast

    9. A. Scott says:

      Makes my head explode….

    10. Ron says:

      Every tax payer should read "Throw Them All Out" to understand what a bunch of nefarious creeps there are in congress. You can bet most of them stand to benefit from this and previous spending marathons.

    11. Mrs. G says:

      The state of things is so sad in Washington, I feel frustrated and helpless. What in the world can we do if the people we vote for won't or can't do what they need to do to get us on the right track again. I feel like I am watching my country be destroyed from the very people who are suppose to turning things around. There is no excuse for what has been going on in Washington. It is shameful! We the people are hurting out here and they are playing with our lives.

    12. Leftshot says:

      Just one Christmas I'd like to find a box from Congress under the tree that isn't full of disappointment. Is that too much to ask?

    13. Teri Newman says:

      Apparently the corrupt party hacks in DC didn't get the message in 2010. There's another one coming in 2012 because the message from the voters is crystal clear. STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY! I've got a plan for the maladies that face America. We MUST pass the STOCK Act to end insider trading by Congress–it's stealing, plain and simple. We have to stop all this wasteful spending and we have to balance the budget–HAVE TO. I am not interested in the blame game, and like you, I am furious at the way our elected officials have ignored us and enriched themselves at the public trough. In addition to making insider trading a crime for the members of Congress, I am also going to hire a CPA as part of my staff to go through the federal budget line by line to look for waste and fraud and I'm also going to look into the Medicare and Medicaid waste and fraud. I'm a businesswoman, I'm used to looking after the money and making sure it is spent wisely.
      Teri Davis Newman
      12th Illinois Congressional Candidate 2012
      2010 Republican Nominee 12th Illinois http://www.terinewman.com

    14. toledofan says:

      So, no matter the logic and the research to show what and where the problem lies, it's clear that the only way to bring this to a head is to shut down the government. I mean we've been going through this exercise now for over 1000 days and nothing has changed. It's obvious that the Republicans are so affraid of being cast as the bad guys, the culprits who are forcing the problems, that they have lost sight of their principles and have abandoned the will of the people. Maybe it's just that the Republicans lack leaders, regardless, enough is enough, quit being so trying to reach across the aisle, stop trying to save the day, let the chips fall where themay, stand your ground and force the Democrats to do their jobs.

    15. old timer says:

      When are the U.S. taxpayer's going to decide it's past time for a good house cleaning in D.C.?

    16. elsie says:

      Someone please tell me how these life time politicans get reelected time and again.

      • Steve S says:

        because we allow it!

      • bassboat says:

        Human greed, humans always want something for nothing. The Politicians are spending other people's money to buy votes so they don't care. Until we throw out 85% of the ones in congress doing this we will continue down our slide into bankruptcy.

      • guest says:

        Favors to thier finacial supporters and name recognition. Most voters vote with the same scrutany as they did in high school ie. who's popular not who is the most informed and displays good judgement.

      • Lloyd Scallan says:


    17. Georga says:

      Just another hum-drum day in America with the Congress spending money they don't have. This is all gonna come crashing down and it's gonna be ugly around the world….until then, "smoke 'em if ya got 'em."

    18. Terrence Pohl says:

      Wasn't the Canadian pipeline authorization supposed to be part of this bill?

    19. philip peffer says:

      Please translate this into a total federal spending figure for the current fiscal year and the inevitable deficit it will incur. I'm guessing the annual deficit will again be in excess of 1 trillion dollars.

    20. John Galt says:

      I wanted the government to shut down. This 1,200 page bill goes against everything that the Republicans claimed they were against and that they would not vote for.

      It has become clear to me, that the older elected Republican officials are just as much of the problem as the Democrats.

      It is time to clean house. ANY POLITICIAN that has served 2 terms needs to be voted out. NO exceptions.

      • Robert, TX says:

        Yes, and they should have shut down the government last February, but little johnny doesn't have the "guts" to do it. They claim that Harry Reid is a big meany, and he won't be nice to them. Well, if shutting down the gov't. is your only weapon, then you use what you have. Obama, his handlers, and the lobbyists cannot survive a shutdown – so, just like when they did it to Clinton – they will come around.

    21. FlaJim says:

      Unfortunately, it appears that all these clowns wanted to do was get this out of the way so they can take their 'much deserved' three or four week holiday break.

      A change in leadership in both the House and Senate is clearly overdue. Perhaps Ryan in the House and DeMint in the Senate. Neither seem afraid of the GOP establishment and both seem eager to uphold conservative principles. Both would be instrumental in keeping the next president in line, too.

    22. RennyG says:

      Lack of responsibility! I suggest we give them a check book, one pen and one person responsible for it.
      Put the money in the account and hold them responsible!!! If the cash is gone, that's it!!!!!! The problem is we have lawyers running the country!!!! You can't understand what they are talking about. Talk about transparity, with lawyers, you gotta be kidding!!!!!!! The lawyers will convince you the check book is not empty!!!! PRAY!!!!

    23. Geore Birtchet says:

      I firmly that the congresspeople should cut their spending in half.. All "earmarks should be attached to the personal budget of those who propose them. Too simple??? They already get special privliges on insider trading and other privliges which we do not get as mere citizens. What is wrong with the congresspersons getting just what the citizens get (besides being screwed)? There is many examples of people in congress going to the House of Senate with not a "pot to Piss in" and ending ujp as millionaires.

      That is one of the reasons that I hope for term limits but unless we the citizens just unelect them after ie. a Senator gets only one six year term and a housemember gets only three(3) 2 year terms. And do away with lobbyist and any former congressperson cannot become a lobbyist for ten years after they serve their terms in Congress. You can take it further and do not give them retirement pay but they have to ;live on what the rest of us have to live on Social Security and our own private retirement plans. I can go on but I think I have said enough for now!!!

      • Keith Bornmann says:

        Term limits aren't going to help anything. When we have someone we like in office, let them stay long enough to accomplish something, When we have someone we don't like, we talk about term limits. Same thing witth the Judicial Branch. This can be a vicious fruitless waste of effort as we fight back an forth about term limits over the years based on who is in office. We need to be more concerned with the work at hand, than the workers. The older congressmen are able to play the system because they have been there and know how to work it; if they are corrupt vote them out, but if they are good for our country (Which right now we may not have one that is) then let them stay. It's too hard to find good replacements, and they won't get voted out if they are good.

    24. Jim says:

      It is interesting that we hear from pundits, polls, etc about the lousy approval rating Congress has. that is so beaten into th psyche of the Repubs that they have no spine to stand up and say "NO" in a clear voice. EVen our forefathers understood that a lot of the people would not be behind them but they forged ahead, thank goodness. Our present 'fathers'?, just a bunch of cry babies, wannabe conservatives, and where is my money politicians.

    25. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Half a loaf is better than none.

    26. candy tanda says:

      why are repulicans ALWAYS afraid to be bold and constantly making apoligies for what they stand for. we need a speaker with the gall of Nancy Pelosie [you'l know what's in it when you pass it] , and the honesty of a Paul Ryan . we are milk toast and i don't know why…..

    27. Deb P says:

      Let us not forget who really runs the government………the lobbyists and special interest groups……..there is so much corruption related to lobbying and special interests that these congressional people are in it for their own payoff and not for the American people. Where else can you go worth $250,000 and within a few years your net worth is in the millions? Congress of course. If you are good little boys and girls, and listen to your all knowing lobbyists you will surely be rewarded. It is time for the "people" to take back our government. But the question lies in how do we stop these lobbyists and special interest group? We now need term limits, but who will bring the bill forward. Surely not congress. We need our own lobbyists and special interest groups, called the law. But who will enforce it………surely not the corrupt judges that are put in office by the corrupt government. This is a problem of major proportions and we cannot afford to go back to sleep. Congress just added another trillion to the 15 trillion we are already in debt for and have no means to repay. We will become a suppressed people if we don't start voting to overturn the congressional representatives every four years because they won't bring a term limit bill to the floor.

    28. William Baker says:

      I have never been a supporter of term limits for congress, but after all this, it is time to change that point of view. This is totally unacceptable, and both parties are going to have to pay a price come November 2012.

    29. Jim says:

      Another Republican cave!!

    30. JSNYC says:

      RE: COST OF FUNDING THESE AGENCIES, their bureaucrats, and regulations

      Q. What is the budget breakdown for each agency, what are the rules and regulations perpetuated by these Agencies, how many are Obama Administration rules and regulations, and will they necessary generate more red tape, redistribution of wealth and enterprise-inhibiting roadblocks to success?

    31. PADDY O says:

      I'll Veto this, I'll vetoe that, I'll veto once again He says it all the time!
      Don't forget old Harry who will block it all again, He does it all the time !
      Let us be sure to blame the proper party and not be drinking Koolade quite so hardy
      They fooled us once, they fooled us twice and they'll fool us again
      They do it all the time! They're going to try to split us, by giving it their spin,
      They do it all the time!

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