The “Cowardly” Senate Leaders Employ Another Budget Gimmick

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy, Obamacare

Here is exhibit A of why we don’t trust current Senate leadership to do the right thing if they were to win back the majority; they refuse to block new spending when in the minority.

Last week, House leadership decided to pass the “doc fix” bill (H.R. 4302) by voice vote.  This bill reimburses healthcare providers for the scheduled 24 percent cut in payments for services rendered to Medicare patients.  The bill extends the payments through next March.  It also continues some new programs created under Obamacare.

They used a hodgepodge of tenuous offsets spread out mainly over the next 5-10 years to compensate for an immediate expense that will undoubtedly reoccur every year under the 10-year budget frame.  Hence, once again, Republicans have agreed to increase spending without any structural reforms or concessions from Democrats on other policies (the original House bill paid for the extension by repealing the individual mandate).

Yesterday, Senator Harry Reid brought the bill to the Senate floor, but Senator Jeff Sessions raised a budget point of order.  As Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, Sessions has been a stalwart at challenging new spending bills for violating Senate PAYGO rules.  This is one of the few tools at the disposal of the minority party used to block bad legislation since the majority party needs 60 votes to overrule the point of order.

In this case, the $15.8 billion cost would be incurred immediately and the offsets include some budget gimmicks to ensure that CBO would score it as deficit neutral by the year 2024.  One would expect the party leadership to rally behind their point man on budget issues in order to stop the majority from increasing spending.  Yet, Senators McConnell and Cornyn led 14 other Republicans in opposing Sessions, thereby giving Reid the 60 votes needed to send the bill to the President’s desk.

Senator Tom Coburn was right to call this a “cowardly” vote, suggesting that this is the reason he is leaving the Senate:

“If you vote for this bill that’s on the floor today, you’re part of the problem. You’re not part of the solution,” Coburn said. “It’s a sham, it’s a lie. The pay-fors aren’t true. It’s nothing but gimmicks. It’s corruptible. There’s no integrity in what we’re getting ready to vote on.”

Coburn said the “doc fix” is just the latest in a series of decisions Congress has made to avoid short-term pain. He and other fiscal conservatives railed against a fix this year to rising flood insurance rates — a law that’s celebrated by senators from coastal states.

“Just like we did on the flood insurance bill. It got a little hot in the kitchen, instead of actually cooking the omelet, we threw the eggs in the trash can and ran out of the room. And that’s exactly what’s going to happen here,” he said.

Once again, we must ask the salient question: will our predicament improve if we allow the same cowards to lead the GOP majority?

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The Farm Bill’s Harvest: Bigger, Costlier Government

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

Earlier this year, we were entreated to a vivid example of how neither party is committed to shrinking the federal government and bolstering private enterprise when they passed a five-year Farm/Food Stamp bill.  CBO pegged the 10-year cost of the bill at $965 billion, up from $604 billion in 2008.  Yet, the politicians sold it as an $8 billion cut because it fell short of the notional $973 billion baseline.

Aside for the raw cost of the bill, the structural changes on the agriculture side and the lack of reforms on the food stamp side actually made the bill even worse:  At the time, we noted the following:

Moreover, any projected score on food stamp spending is meaningless.  The food stamp program is part of mandatory spending, and given the fact that this bill fails to structurally reform the program on a large scale, the 10-year cost will continue to rise as more people are encouraged to join.

On the agriculture side, this bill is an even bigger joke.  Drafters of the bill are boasting how they are abolishing $5 billion in direct subsidies. The problem is that this bill creates new subsidy programs, which will be even more expensive and market-distorting – and they will be permanent law, not subject to reauthorization.

The Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) would guarantee shallow loss off of record revenue farmers have been enjoying over the past few years.  The shallow loss program would kick in when revenue dips below 86% of recent year amounts  The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) would trigger subsidies when prices for certain commodities dip below target prices.  For many crops, prices are already beginning to drop towards the cusp of those trigger levels.  Hence, the cost of these programs will probably spike much higher than originally projected when CBO scored the bill with the higher prices.

Less than two months later, both predictions have come true.  With regards to food stamp spending, the lack of structural reforms is precluding the actualization of even the notional baseline savings.  Here is a report from NPR explaining why the “savings” from food stamp “reforms” never got off the ground:

The cuts were related to a program known as “heat and eat.” In the past, it had allowed the participating states to give low-income households as little as $1 a year in home heating aid so they’d qualify for more food stamps.

States said it made the program and got help to those who needed it. But the maneuver was called a loophole by both Republicans and Democrats. So last month, Congress agreed to raise the amount of utility assistance states would have to pay to trigger the provision — to more than $20 a year.

The idea was that many of the states that use “heat and eat” would decide it wasn’t worth their while. The expected result? Some 850,000 food stamp recipients would have their benefits cut an average $90 a month, which is where the savings would come in.

Turns out, Congress was wrong.

The “heat and eat” program covers 16 states, plus the District of Columbia. Six states — Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon and Montana — have already declared that they will boost home energy benefits to avoid the food stamp cuts. Two other participants — Vermont and D.C. — are actively working to do the same thing.

With regards to the farm subsidies, Heritage Action has cited a new analysis from the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute confirming our worst suspicions – the new subsidy programs will cost more than the direct payments and more than CBO originally projected:

Despite the elimination of direct payments, the new farm bill is going to pay off better than the 2008 law for many growers and could be more costly to taxpayers than the Congressional Budget Office estimated, according to an analysis released Thursday that provides the first up-to-date look at the bill’s impact.

According to economists with the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, the cost of the farm bill’s new Price Loss Coverage program will start at $2.1 billion for this year’s crops and increase to $3.4 billion by 2018.

CBO had estimated the PLC would cost roughly $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion a year through 2019. The CBO analysis was based off a forecast issued last year when market prices were higher. PLC will trigger payments when prices fall below fixed levels, or reference prices.

Every Republican running as a conservative this year must take notice.  This is just one example of how the GOP establishment has no intention of fighting for limited government, and to the extent that they entice rank-and-file members into supporting shiny objects, there is always a catch.

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The Finger Lickin’ Fraud Gets Caught in his Game

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt

Ever since Senator Mitch McConnell sensed some vulnerability from his Republican base in Kentucky, he has cunningly voted the right way on most major issues, but of course waiting  until the outcome was no longer in doubt.  McConnell’s painstaking management of his voting record began in two tranches – a mild drift to the right once Trey Grayson was defeated by Rand Paul in 2010 and an acerbic turn after Matt Bevin started toying with a Senate run.

However, despite the shift in his actual voting record, McConnell has continued to artfully advance his real agenda of big government, an agenda which is shared by his puppet-masters on K Street.  As the party leader, McConnell sits back on any contentious issue and privately hopes yes while voting no.  He has declined to whip the votes; he hasn’t even put out a statement in support of the conservative position until the vote is cast.  The desired outcome for Mitch is that the capitulation be made; the bad bill wind its way to the President’s desk, but his hands remain clean of any wrongdoing.

This modus operandi was completely demolished today.

McConnell showed up at the weekly Steering Committee lunch today to berate Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz from pushing the undocumented Democrats to take tough votes.  This meeting is traditionally a conservative get-together dating back to when Jim DeMint used to run it.  But McConnell and his minions hijacked the meeting and began pointing fingers at Cruz and Lee.

The establishment Republicans wanted to vitiate cloture with a unanimous consent agreement.  This would have achieved their desired outcome in which the debt ceiling would pass, but it would be delivered to Obama’s desk with only Democrat votes.

Cruz and Lee had this weird idea that maybe we should actually refuse to give  Obama a blank check, especially when Republicans have the votes to stop it.  Moreover, Senator Harry Reid has shut down the amendment process in the Senate.  Blocking cloture is the only leverage conservatives have to force Democrats to vote on amendments, even if Republicans plan to support the bill in the end.  McConnell claims that he just wants to remain idle and coast until the November elections in order to win back the Senate, but ironically, we will never win back the Senate if we don’t force Democrats to take embarrassing votes on amendments.  There was no reason this bill needed to pass today; we could have dragged this out into a protracted fight on popular spending cuts.  Yet, McConnell wanted to get out of town early and wash his hands of this issue.

After the meeting, McConnell still thought he had enough members to deliver the 60 votes to Harry Reid.  But rank-and-file members had enough of McConnell’s cowardly leadership – forcing members to take bad votes that he privately supports while not being man enough to own the policy.  After a frenetic effort to get Republicans to flip their votes, McConnell was forced to go down and vote for the crap sandwich himself.

Ask yourself this question: Come this fall, how can you motivate a  Republican activist to knock on doors for the purpose of electing a Republican majority that is run by Mitch McConnell?

Well, if we all mobilize to throw out these quislings in the primaries, that question will hopefully become moot.

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RELEASE: Mitch McConnell Votes to Give Obama a Blank Check

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 and is filed under Debt, Press

Fort Worth, TX – The Madison Project PAC released the following statement in response to Senator Mitch McConnell’s vote for cloture to suspend the debt ceiling and grant President Obama a blank check for another year:

“Ever since Matt Bevin announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell has veered to the right, making sure to vote with conservatives on major issues,” said Drew Ryun of the Madison Project.  “However, he never whips against bad legislation because he has been in ‘hope yes, vote no’ mode, encouraging other members to vote for more spending while he evinced a conservative image to his voters back home.  Today, McConnell was finally forced out of the shadows because he couldn’t find enough Republicans willing to vote for such an irresponsible bill – granting Obama another blank check after he already amassed over $6.6 trillion in debt.

“Today’s vote is a perfect illustration of what Kentuckians have to look forward to if McConnell were to win reelection and no longer fear reprisal from the voters back home.  Kentucky voters need to ask themselves the following question: is this the man we want running the Senate if Republicans work hard enough to elect a GOP majority?”

The Madison Project supports and raises money for conservative candidates that have demonstrated a commitment to full-spectrum conservatism. The Madison Project website can be found at http://madisonproject.com/

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We’re Being Played Like Fools

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt

If there is any agreement on fiscal issues in Washington it is that we must do something about the growing debt and long-term unfunded liabilities.  With the debt exploding by over $6.6 trillion under Obama’s watch, the only leverage conservatives had to force a path to balance the budget was the debt ceiling – a built-in check on runaway spending.  Yet, ever since they took over Congress in 2011, establishment Republicans have worked to abolish the debt ceiling.

Moving forward, Republicans have now set a precedent in which the debt ceiling will now be something that must be avoided instead of something we can embrace.   With Obama’s record growth of the federal debt and his past statements against raising the debt ceiling, this is precisely the issue to bludgeon him with before an election. But, alas, that opportunity has been lost.  All of Boehner’s talk about “the Boehner Rule,” which called for dollar-for-dollar cuts, was lost the day he adopted Obama’s false talking point about default on debt.

What is even more disturbing about the vote to pass the debt ceiling is how many members lacked the courage to vote their convictions.  Isn’t it amazing how just enough Republicans voted for it in order for the bill to pass, allowing all but 28 members a free hall pass for their reelection?  Even pure liberal like Mike Simpson (R-ID) voted against it for the first time.  According to Roll Call, today’s debt ceiling vote had “the fewest number of votes from a majority on a bill that passed the House since at least 1991.”

So here is a direct challenge to all those free-riders who implemented their ‘hope yes, vote no’ policy today.  If you really oppose raising the debt ceiling and appreciate the long-term damage from Boehner’s policy, why not call for a new leadership election immediately?  There is no middle ground. If you really opposed this deal, it is simply egregious that the sitting Republican leader would pass it with Democrat support.  This is the seventh time Boehner has done so over the past year.  It only takes about 50 members to call for a leadership election.  Now is the time to put up or shut up.

Yet, if you only voted no for political expedience, you are probably just fine with what the Speaker has done today.  It’s time to come out of the shadows and document yourselves.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is reverting back to his comfort zone of declining to take a strong position on the bill until the outcome is no longer in jeopardy, in which case he will undoubtedly vote no.

We must remember that nothing will change with a GOP-controlled Senate unless we elect new leadership.  Democrats already know these guys are terrified of the debt ceiling.  So what will happen next March?

The same thing.

They will pass bad bills with Democrats support, all the while ensuring that those with primary challengers are given a pass to vote the right way – for political purposes not principle.

This is just one more reason why we need to A) win the upcoming primaries and B) force new leadership elections.  If we fail on both of those accounts all our hard work towards building a GOP majority will go towards the empowerment of Democrat policies.

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GOP Debt Ceiling Strategy

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 and is filed under Debt

In a sane world, President Obama and the Democrats would be on the hook for requesting yet another debt ceiling increase after already racking up record high amounts of debt.  Obama is extremely unpopular, saddled with the failures of Obamacare, and accruing more debt than every other president combined.  Yet, thanks to self-immolation on the part of the stupid party, it is Republicans who find themselves getting trapped by their own leverage point.

President Bush was a big spender and conducted two major wars during his eight years in office.  When Bush was sworn in on January 20, 2001, the gross federal debt stood at $5.728 trillion.  On January 20, 2009, the day he left office, the debt had increased to $10.629 trillion, a jump of $4.9 trillion.  Just five years later, the gross federal debt stands at a whopping $17.263 trillion.  Obama has amassed $6.63 trillion in debt.  It took from our nation’s founding until July 2003 for us to achieve that milestone!

Roughly $6 trillion of the Obama debt increase is comprised of the public share (not intra-governmental holdings), which now stands at $12.305 trillion.  It took from our nation’s founding until October 2008 to amass that much in public debt.

Now take a step back and cogitate the past statements from the President – prior to his unprecedented expansion of the national debt.

“Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

Let that seep in for a moment.  Now add another $6.63 trillion over five years into the mix.

The debt ceiling, even more than a budget CR, can be messaged in plain language to the average voter.  Any responsible person understands that we should not reflexively raise the debt ceiling, eschewing the only tool to force a balanced budget, until we formulate a plan to end the cycle of debt.

And what will happen during the transition phase while we are debating a balanced budget?  Will we default?

Once again, let’s review the math of the federal budget.

According to the updated budget projection from the CBO, the Treasury is slated to take in $3.029 trillion in revenue this year.  Interest on the debt will cost $233 billion, a mere 7.7% of the massive tax revenue stolen from the private economy.  Once that is paid off, there is no default.  Period.  Anyone who claims we will default is knowingly misleading the public.

What do you do with the remaining funds?  You start funding core functions of government and those programs that people are already dependent on.

Social Security (retirement and disability) – $846 billion

Medicare – $505 billion

Medicaid – $298 billion

Defense – $582 billion

Veterans – $85 billion

Those expenditures account for roughly $2.3 trillion.  The remaining half trillion can be prioritized as needed for other functions related to homeland security, national parks, or any other limited function.  And remember, these numbers are extrapolated over a 12-month time frame.  The Treasury would have more flexibility to shift payments for vital services on a week-by-week basis as we work to responsibly downsize the rest of the federal government. Hence, the debt ceiling is a built-in balanced budget mechanism.

Democrats can’t have it both ways.  They imposed massive taxation, which has engendered enough revenue to cover the vital functions of government plus all of the entitlements.  They can’t tax and borrow.  Much like they claimed Obamacare is the law of the land, the debt ceiling is also the law of the land.  We already tax; we already borrow.  It’s time to force a long-term balanced budget.

Sadly, Democrats can and will have it both ways.  Instead of calling out Obama for his debt ceiling mendacity and publicly debunking his irresponsible lie about default, they obsequiously parrot his talking points.

The GOP mantra from Boehner and McConnell over the past few months has gone something like this:

“We are so scared of our own leverage point.  We so badly want to avoid default.  We absolutely cannot fight on this one, but please, Democrats, can you give us something in return?  We don’t know what that ‘something’ should be, but please let us off the hook from using our own leverage point.”

Well, after telegraphing that message to the Democrats for so long, there is not much we can do.  At this point, all we can do is defeat these undocumented Democrats in primaries and elect a new cadre of conservative fighters in the primaries – fighters who will telegraph a very different message to our opponents.

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Mitch McConnell, the Farm Bill and the Power of Logrolling

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Economy

[The voting spreadsheet has been updated due to some errors taken from an old roster of Congress.  We apologize for the mistake. – Madison Project Staff]

Earlier today, the House passed the Farm/Food Stamp bill boondoggle.  Sadly, only 63 Republicans opposed it.  The bill locks in Obama’s food stamp regime, creates and expands numerous Soviet-style agriculture subsidies and conservation regulations, and authorizes more spending on the biofuels fiasco.  House Republicans got rolled in the conference committee by Senate Democrats, yet almost 75% of the conference dutifully followed leadership.

Click here for a color-coded spreadsheet of the GOP vote.

There is also one other point overlooked in this bill – earmarks.  You will notice that some good members voted for this terrible bill.  In particular, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) voted for the bill!

Why?

Well, knowing Massie he wasn’t too enthralled about the underlying piece of legislation.  Presumably, he supported the bill because a provision to allow a pilot program growing industrial hemp was inserted into the legislation. And, guess who is now bragging about his involvement in this form of logrolling? That’s right, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Thanks to Mitch McConnell, he made it easier to grow government and increase spending.  Industrial hemp is very popular in the state, and what better way to buy off votes than by inserting this provision into the bill.  While this provision might not meet the technical definition of an earmark, it has all of the harmful characteristics of one.

We’ve always noted that the problem with earmarks or extraneous provisions is not the “small potatoes” expenditure.  The problem is that the $500,000 earmark is then used to buy off a conservative vote for a $1 trillion omnibus, farm bill or some other terrible transformational legislation.  The earmarks are used as the magic “grease” to garner majority support for big-government legislation.  Once we reinstate the practice of earmarking, we will never be able to mobilize a majority within the Conference to oppose any big-government legislation.  Most of them will be seduced into supporting bad legislation through personal earmarks for their districts.  This is the “multiplying factor” of earmarks.

This hemp provision is a superlative example of how Mitch McConnell and others quietly enable the growth of government.  If this is something that is necessary and popular then pass it in a separate bill.  Placing it in a massive welfare/subsidy bill only helps advance the liberal agenda.  Would McConnell and others have supported Obamacare if it had a hemp provision attached?  We’d hate to see what finds its way into the immigration bill!

It is precisely because of leaders like McConnell and the use of logrolling provisions that we are stuck in the situation we are in today.

And this is another reason why we must change leadership.  I’m not here to dump on Massie.  He’s a great conservative.  But that’s the point.  The way GOP leaders do business is so antithetical to our values that it creates a “meat grinder” dynamic in which even the best members are faced with tough decisions on bad votes.

Business as usual in Washington will never change with current leadership.  They are not a symptom of the problem.  They are the problem.  Not only do people like Mitch McConnell enable the growth of government, they corrupt an entire state delegation and act as a malignant force on the broader effort to downsize the federal government.  That is why we need game-changers like Matt Bevin in the Senate.

The Farm Bill Boondoggle

Monday, January 27th, 2014 and is filed under Debt

Some things will never change in Washington.  And this week’s deal on the Farm/Food Stamp bill is a perfect example of Washington’s recalcitrance to conservative reforms.  After months of a protracted K Street food fight, the majority of the lobbyists appear to have brought home enough bacon and have settled on a deal.

Throughout the week you will find headlines heralding the bipartisan agreement to “save” $24 billion in Farm Bill – $8 billion from food stamps and $15 billion from agriculture.  But as we’ve learned from past experiences, spending cuts in Washington parlance are quite unique.

The CBO’s 10-year score for the 2008 Farm Bill was $604 billion.  After Obama engendered a massive increase in food stamp spending with looser eligibility requirements, the overall baseline was driven up to roughly $972.8 billion.  The House proposed a $40 billion “cut” in food stamp spending from that baseline.  The Senate proposed a $4 billion “cut.”  They get together in conference and….drum roll…we have an $8 billion cut….off the $972 billion baseline.  That is what counts for cutting spending in Washington.

Moreover, any projected score on food stamp spending is meaningless.  The food stamp program is part of mandatory spending, and given the fact that this bill fails to structurally reform the program on a large scale, the 10-year cost will continue to rise as more people are encouraged to join.

On the agriculture side, this bill is an even bigger joke.  Drafters of the bill are boasting how they are abolishing $5 billion in direct subsidies. The problem is that this bill creates new subsidy programs, which will be even more expensive and market-distorting – and they will be permanent law, not subject to reauthorization.

The Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) would guarantee shallow loss off of record revenue farmers have been enjoying over the past few years.  The shallow loss program would kick in when revenue dips below 86% of the past few years.  The Price Loss Coverage (PLC) would trigger subsidies when prices for certain commodities dip below target prices.  For many crops, prices are already beginning to drop towards the cusp of those trigger levels.  Hence, the cost of these programs will probably spike much higher than originally projected when CBO scored the bill with the higher prices.

The only logical outcome of this bill is that reforms to both agriculture subsidies and food stamps will be precluded for another five years.  So much for the GOP promise to sever the two issues so we can reform each one independently in the future.

It’s also important to note that it’s bills like this which help create a culture of dependency in red states (on top of the blue state dependency culture).  You will hear many of the Republicans who represent these districts speak out passionately against Obamacare, yet celebrate the endless agriculture subsidies in this bill.  What they fail to tell you is that it is precisely this bipartisan culture of injecting the federal government into private enterprise that has given rise to the climate which engendered passage of Obamacare.  The Feds didn’t take over the healthcare sector overnight.  It was facilitated by the precedent of decades’ worth of government intervention in private industries such as agriculture.  If government can completely control commodity prices through price targeting, trade barriers, and production quotas, it wasn’t such a drastic leap to take over the healthcare sector.

Federal intervention into state and private business will not end overnight or in one year.  But this Farm Bill is one more indication that we will never have a chance to downsize government so long as the current politicians are leading both political parties.  They continue to add more government intervention even on top of the rare programs that are repealed.

This bill doesn’t represent incremental reform; it is a classic bait-and-switch subterfuge to spend more and grow government, while seizing the mantle of fiscal reform.  Conservatives beware.

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McConnell’s Debt Ceiling Double Game

Monday, January 27th, 2014 and is filed under Debt, Elections

When we endorsed Matt Bevin against Senator Mitch McConnell, we noted the following about Mitch’s double game:

For years, McConnell has been undermining conservatives in the Senate, even as he evinces the image of a conservative warrior to his constituents.  Whenever there is a low-hanging political issue to hit, McConnell is eager to run before a microphone and feign outrage, even when he can’t contribute anything more to the debate.  But when some of the most consequential odious pieces of legislation come before the Senate, he is silent or quietly pushing for it.

We see this play out every time we approach a debt ceiling.  Before the confrontation is upon us, McConnell strikes a hardline tone and demands spending cuts in return for a debt ceiling increase.  Then when we get closer to the deadline, McConnell begins echoing the false notion of default on debt and sells us out.

Watch for a replay in February.

McConnell was on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace and was called out for the first time on this double game:

WALLACE: After the government shutdown in October, which Republicans took the hit for, you were quoted as saying, “We are not going to threaten default again by attaching conditions.” But more recently, you said you don’t think there’s any chance that a clean, without any condition debt bill could get through the Senate.

So, which is it?

McConnell never really answered the question and just proceeded to mutter something about getting something in return.

As we all know, McConnell can’t answer the question.  Once GOP politicians like McConnell state unequivocally that they will never “default on the debt,” they lost the argument.  The cat is out of the bag.  Democrats will never have any incentive to negotiate on a balanced budget or Obamacare as long as Republicans show their hand and declare that they will give in.

So, do you want McConnell negotiating for you?

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New Year Opens With Big Spending Bang

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Debt, Taxes

Congress plans to kick off the new legislative session the same way it ended the last one.  They will continue to spend more money.

When Congress voted on the Ryan-Murray budget deal before adjourning for Christmas, members were only signing off on the topline discretionary spending figures, not the individual accounts for all the departments and agencies.  They agreed to repeal part of the sequester for the next two years.  Consequently, discretionary spending will increase from $967 billion to an annualized level of $1.012 trillion for the remainder of FY 2014.  Congress will now work on passing an omnibus bill with 12 appropriations bills rolled up in one massive piece of legislation, which will reflect the topline figure in the Ryan-Murray deal.

Now, as The Hill reports, the appropriator cardinals are working frenetically to divvy up the new spending among their favorite portions of the government pie.

“Congress is set to unveil a giant spending bill next week that staff for appropriators have been preparing on a near daily basis throughout the holiday break.

Aides say progress on the $1 trillion, 12-part omnibus legislation has been better than expected at the subcommittee level, and that their goal remains to pass the bill through both chambers by Jan. 16 to prevent a government shutdown.

The secretive process has members anticipating rushed votes when they return next week, as congressional leaders race the clock.”

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