THE OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL : WHY ALL THE OBJECTING AND FUSS ?

1 Reid and McConnell

been a long time since we’ve seen this : Senators Reid and McConnell discussing rather than slinging insults at each other

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Yesterday the US Senate voted 56 to 40 to enact the $ 1.1 trillion dollar FY 2015 Budget Bill that has caused so much political ruckus and loud-speak. We stand with those who voted for the bill, and here’s why.

The bill contains many provisions we do not agree with. That is certain. But in an era of Federal budget retrenchment, when the argument for deficit reduction has carried the day — not that we agree with it, but it is what it is — it is axiomatic that people can’t expect all their Federal initiatives to be funded. Much good stuff is left out; some has been cut. Yet the process does not end here. Funds not appropriated in the “Omnibus” budget bill can always be restored later.

The vote was almost perfectly bipartisan. 27 Republicans voted Yes, 18 No. 24 Democrats voted Yes, 21 No. State seemed to matter more than party. in almost every state, Senators voted the same way, regardless of party, either Yes or No. This solidarity included ME, NH, MA, RI, NJ, PA, MD, MI, MS, AL, GA, OK, CO, NM, NB, SD, ND, OR, ID, WY, MN, IA, OH, IN, VA, NC, DE, RI, VT, AR, AZ, and AK. Senators differed — again, regardless of party — only in CA, HI, NY, CT, FL, LA, WI, KS, TX, UT, NV, MT, KY, SC, MO, WV, and TN.

From the volume of noise being raised on the spending side, you’d think the “Omnibus’ were the end of the road. It isn’t.

Much noise has also been bruited on the cut-spending side. This seems less justified. The cut-spending folks succeeded in paring much that probably shouldn’t be cut, from the size of military pay raises to funds for the EPA, IRS, and “Race to the Top.”

In addition, Senate opponents of the Dodd-Frank Act, which placed significant restrictions on the use of ordinary bank depposits to fund derivatives trading, succeeded in cutting back that Act’s application to hedge trading by farm businesses. Supporters of Dodd-Frank — notably our Senator, Elizabeth Warren — treated this change as a cataclysmic event requiring the threat of a government shutdown rather than approve. Really ?

Perhaps the most curious adjustment in the Omnibus bill is to expand the size of allowable donations to political committees — from $ 32,000 to $ 320,000. has nothing to do with the Federal budget; it’s in the Omnibus only because — so the story has it — the GOP is worried about funding its 2016 nominating convention. I’m not sure what to make of this provision, but again, I don’t think it’s a cause for raising the hue and cry. It’s simply a result of Citizens United, a ecsion controversial to be sure.

The bill makes almost no change at all in the parameters of deficit-reduction budget policy established two years ago by Congress after way too much drana hopefully not to be revisited. We have not read its entire 1,600 pages,l but we have read a detailed synopsis of its provisions as provided by the House Appropriations Committee chairman, Harold Rogers. It might be worth your while to read what’s actually in the bill, and not in it, before you unleash the four winds of hell against it. Here’s the link :
http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=393925

I suppose you can justify the noise and opposition as a means of maintaining a constituency for a different budget policy than deficit-reduction-first. Unhappily, that policy change seems less crucial now than it did back in 2009-12, when the regressed national economy seemed to me to require deficit spending big-time. Today, with the economy rapidly improving — albeit unequally — deficit reduction makes good sense. Those who object to a deficit-reducing budget now object too late.

It would not surprise me at all if the next chapter in the nation’;s Budget drama were one of expansion, as rapidly increasing Federal revenues allow Congress to restore appropriations — such as military pay and EPA funding — that have been reduced in the 2015 Omnibus. And maybe even to amend the Budget objectives legislation enacted in 2011-12.  After all, a big election is coming, and realism is once again the majority outlook in Congress despite the clamor coming from the irreconcilables.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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