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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Democrats Load Troop Funding With Pork-Barrel Spending

Since May, House Democrats have been trying to pass $84.2 billion supplemental spending bill.  The ostensible purpose of the legislation was to “support our troops, conduct the war in Afghanistan, continue to drawdown troops in Iraq, and provide non-military assistance and build up State Department operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.”  However, the vast majority of the funding in the bill—61 percent—was earmarked for non-defense programs, new bailouts and pet projects to benefit Democrat allies.  Facing political pressure for excessive spending, Democrats are planning to consider a “scaled down” version of the bill this week on the floor.  Unfortunately, the revamped legislation would still spend approximately $72 billion of which almost half is unrelated to American troops fighting overseas.

The Democrats’ new proposal has all the same flaws of their first attempt.  The bill will contain roughly $72.5 billion in discretionary and mandatory spending.  Of that, $35.4 billion or 48 percent is totally unrelated to ongoing wars and an additional $4.5 billion of the war funding will go to the State Department rather than the Department of Defense (DoD).  The bill also contains approximately $12 billion in rescissions from defense, “stimulus,” and other funding to offset a portion of the spending.  Despite a modest reduction in non-defense spending and the inclusion of some rescissions, deep flaws with the bill remain unchanged.  Democrats are still using this must-pass legislation to subvert PAYGO, pass more wasteful spending and increase the deficit.

Unprecedented non-defense spending: House Democrats’ new proposal includes $72 billion, comprised of the $33 billion DoD requested for war operations, $4.5 billion for State and Foreign Assistance (which House Democrats categorize as “war” spending), and roughly $34.8 billion in unrelated spending.  Funding for DoD war operations accounts for less than half of the total spending in the bill.  In addition, the House bill also exceeds the spending levels in the Senate-passed supplemental bill as well as the president’s total request, both of which contained billions in non-defense spending.  The House legislation is $8.3 billion more than the president’s $63.5 billion request and $13 billion more than the $58.8 billion Senate-passed bill (Senate amendments to H.R. 4899).

Billions in non-defense Spending without offsets: On February 4, 2010, when Democrats increased the national debt limit by $1.9 trillion and enacted statutory pay-as-you-go (PAYGO), the Majority pledged the end of deficit spending and a new era of fiscal responsibility.  Nevertheless, the $35 billion in non-defense spending in this bill will be only partially offset for the purposes of PAYGO.  According to the Democrat leadership, the legislation will include “close to $12 billion in rescissions” to offset about one third of the non-defense spending, or about 16 percent of the total bill.  Rescissions in the bill include roughly $1.6 billion in stimulus funding, $3.5 billion in defense funding and a myriad of other offsets from numerous accounts.  Miscellaneous rescissions include $2 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services for flu readiness, $2 billion in highway contract authority, and $602 million in rural broadband funding from the stimulus.

During debate on statutory PAYGO, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “the luxury of just heaping bills with projects or whatever, or in terms of new entitlements especially in terms of PAYGO, that day is over unless it is paid for.”  Unfortunately, the Democrats are doing exactly the opposite of what they told the public just four months ago.

Non-defense spending lowlights: FY 2010 supplemental contains $35 billion in giveaways for special interests, bankrupt government programs and pet projects that have nothing to do with wars abroad.  The following is a summary of some the “emergency” spending:
  • $10 billion for an Education Jobs Fund to temporarily bail out states facing budget shortfalls.
  • $5.1 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to pay for lingering costs of past disasters, such as Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, and Gustav, and the Midwest floods of 2008.
  • $4.95 billion to temporarily bail out the federal Pell Grant program which recently received billions in new funding when the government took over private college lending.
  • $180 million to support $18 billion in federally guaranteed loans for clean energy.
  • $538 million in new spending to deter waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare.
  • $100 million to increase Community Development Block Grants in areas that have experienced flooding.  
  • $50 million to improve the Port of Guam.  
  • $31.5 million to support $1 billion in federally guaranteed USDA loans.
  • $18 million to respond to disasters in the Mississippi River and its tributaries.
  • $18 million for “emergency forest restoration.”
  • $15 million for a highway safety study.
  • $13 million for a new Capitol Police radio system.
  • $10 million for emergency drought relief.
  • $2 million to “investigate the causes of the recent financial crisis.”
Unrelated provisions on war supplementals: Democrats have established a troubling record of using critical funding for U.S. troops in harm’s way as a vehicle to enact controversial policy changes and pass huge amounts of unrelated spending.  In October 2009 the House passed H.R. 2647, the Defense Authorization Act for FY 2010.  The bill included completely unrelated and controversial hate crimes provisions that could result in any pastor, preacher, priest, rabbi or imam who gives a sermon being convicted of federal crime.  In another example of unrelated policy jammed into a war spending bill, the FY 2009 war funding supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 2346) included $108 billion in new loan authority for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which the president had unilaterally promised to the international community.  That funding will be used to bail out profligate nations in Europe.  Perhaps most egregiously, the FY 2011 defense authorization bill (H.R. 5136) repealed the law regarding homosexuality in the military and the corresponding policy known as “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”  The provision, which has passed the House but not the Senate, would unequivocally end the military’s policy without approval from those serving in our military or the findings of a Pentagon study.

In keeping with this pattern, Democrats have again included controversial and completely unrelated legislation into this war funding supplemental.  Most egregiously, the bill includes the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, a contentious piece of legislation which requires state and local governments to collectively bargain with all law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel.  In addition, the legislation includes a provision that would require the FBI to releases its High-Value Detainee Interrogation procedures to Congress within 30 days of enactment.  The legislation even increases the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) loan commitment authority to insure a greater number of home and hospital mortgages with taxpayer money.  These provisions have nothing to do with funding for members of the Armed Services fighting overseas and should be debated on their own merit, not tucked into a must pass troop funding bill.

More wasteful “jobs” Spending: The supplemental contains $10 billion in so-called “teacher jobs” spending.  This money would be used to bail out states with shortfalls in their education budget.  The funding was not initially requested by the Obama Administration and is on top of $53.6 billion that was provided to states through the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund in order to fill education gaps in the Democrats’ “stimulus” bill.  According to the Department of Education, the “one-time appropriation” in the stimulus bill was meant as “a historic infusion of funds that is expected to be temporary.”  Since the Department is clearly aware that the stabilization funding was a one-time program, why are House Democrats insisting on borrowing $10 billion more to pay for a state bailout?

While Democrats may argue that the increased government spending will result in the creation jobs, the facts prove otherwise.  Since last year more than a trillion dollars has been spent by Democrats on so-called “jobs” legislation that has done little to lower unemployment or curb the effects of the recession.  As it has been widely reported, the Obama Administration said in late January, 2009, that if the $1 trillion stimulus bill was passed unemployment would not surpass 8 percent.  However, unemployment has hovered near 10 percent since the stimulus was passed and the recent drop in the unemployment rate—from 9.9 percent to 9.7 percent—was due only to 410,000 new government jobs.  Even the country’s economic growth rate has disappointingly slowed from 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009 to the 3 percent in the first quarter of 2010.  Such growth rates are entirely insufficient to put the 15 million unemployed Americans back to work.  In short, government spending has done nothing to improve our nation’s economic station and done much to impair of fiscal stability.

Conclusion: The U.S. stands at a fiscal crossroad.  Our country’s national debt sits at $13.05 trillion or 98.5 percent of our $13.2 trillion gross domestic product.  As Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said to the House Budget Committee on June 9, 2010, “the federal budget appears to be on an unsustainable path.”  Yet Democrats continue to spend without any conscious.  The president took office, Democrats have spent an astounding $4.3 trillion and added $1.8 trillion to the deficit.  Around the world debt-ridden countries are providing a stark example of the consequences of unrestrained spending.  Nations such as Greece, Hungary, Spain and Italy now face sovereign debt crises that have threatened their stability and very independence and have resulted in social upheaval.  In spite of this glaring evidence, Democrats are now using the FY 2010 war funding supplemental to add billions of dollars to the country’s balance sheet.  [Public Source]

Tags: military Funding, War funding, troop funding, Democrats, US House, Pork, earmarks To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 3:34 PM - Post Link


Blogger David Peterson said...

Bill Smith,
Fantastic Analysis and Reporting. Please contact me to discus channeling your news to actionable events with candidates & voters.


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