A Willful Crisis & “One Last Spending Binge”

Senator McConnell called it “one last spending binge.”  It’s 1,924 pages of emergency spending authority totaling about $1.1 trillion that must be passed this week to prevent a government shut down.

Politicians love a budget crisis because it gives them an opportunity to sneak some home state pork and special interest subsidies into a bill nobody will have time to read.

According to media reports there are more than 8 thousand earmarks, inserted into the bill by both Republicans and Democrats.  Some of the Republicans whose sanctimonious indignation is now heard in dramatic soundbites were the authors of some of the earmarks.

The obvious question is, of course: Why is there an emergency?

Incompetence and malfeasance in Congress created this emergency.  The circumstances require some sort of “stop-gap” spending legislation because Congress failed to accomplish its most basic, Constitutional responsibilities:

  • Pass a budget for fiscal year 2011, which began October 1, 2010.
  • Pass 12 appropriations bills that break the budget down to more manageable pieces and grant each department and agency the budget authority to continue operations.

Without appropriation bills the government’s various departments and agencies lack permission from Congress to do anything, resulting in a government “shut down.”  Perhaps the most famous shut-downs were in the 90s when the new Republican majority in Congress could not reach a compromise with Democratic President Clinton.

Of course there is no such disagreement this year as the President’s own party has super-majorities in both houses.  Yet somehow, the Democrats could not find time for their Constitutional duty until this last moment.  So now they gleefully load up the earmarks and special deals for politically connected constituencies even as they act as if they are heroically rescuing us from yet another crisis.

1 Comment so far

  1. thousand Flowers Blooming on December 15th, 2010

    Things will get much worse next year with The Republicans back in charge.