October 27, 2015

Budget deal? Not a Sesh moment [Updated]

He steps up again to attack yet-another backroom deal between Reid, McConnel, Boehner and .. well, who effing cares?

Once again, a massive deal, crafted in secret, unveiled at the 11th hour, is being rushed through Congress under threat of panic. Once again, we have waited until an artificial deadline to force through that which our voters oppose.
Just what Mulvaney claims the HFC has been railing against for years...
This deal shatters [sequester] commitment by spending $80 billion more than we promised over the next 2 years. The deal also uses a common gimmick where alleged savings in an entitlement program are used to boost unrelated spending in the federal bureaucracy.

[Update: comments are rampant - what I'm trying to ferret out is the widely published "only $80B increase" versus what Bret Stephens noted as "already expected increase of $200B" for 2016. Expected in which scenario? With the sequester's restrictions in place (aka, no deal), were these increases still 'expected' or is that the ugly-sauce that needs to be hidden, and if so, why didn't Sessions do so succinctly? By all the gods ever declared or suspected of being sacred, CLEAR THE SMOKE AND BREAK THE MIRRORS ]

Many quotes and more details from Politico
Majority Whip John Cornyn (squish, TX) "I don’t think you’ll hear anybody popping any champagne corks"

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.): "We're really tired of the top-down, micromanagement where you have just a few people, or in this case just the speaker and his team, determining the outcome"

Tim Scott (rising star, SC) "It’s just hard to justify that we’re not figuring out how to clamp down on spending"
Paul Ryan (earning new stripes - WI) "I think this process stinks."

Oh, I'm sorry; I forgot to include the good news, that increased funding will be paid for by selling oil from the SPR (while oil is near $40; brilliant! I'll bet we refill when it hits $100), John McCain "can work with it" and the increased spending will be offset by spending reductions in ... wait for it... 2025!

A PowerLine article has more, including the nearly unnecessary closing quote from Sessions:

Based on what I know now, it appears the president got whatever he wanted.

114th Congress Donkey Rescue Posted by nanobrewer at October 27, 2015 11:16 PM

Oh brave Senator Sessions! It's a wonder that he did not light himself on fire in the Senate floor to protest!

I was going to post something nice about Sessions last week. He was truly a hero stopping some Obamacare bailouts of insurers and saved the taxpayer $21 Billion and all of us the cronyism attached. Sadly, I was on my iPad. Glorified Etch-a-Sketch that it is, I struggled adding the link, then lost he whole post on a browser refresh.

Our great Kumbaya moment was stolen by the gods themselves.

You did hit my best button the other day in your HFC post: regular order would quell a lot of this nonsense. And I'll admit that Sen. Sessions is an ally in that fight.

I just would like my RINO-hunter pals to admit on thing: it's hard.

In this festering pit of lobbyists and preening politicians and true believers on the other side and a biased, lazy, cowardly, and ignorant media, it is not enough for a courageous Cruz or Sessions to rise up and blind the other 534 with radiant purity.

All of God's chil'n should read Robert A. Caro's "Master of the Senate" and James Grant's "Mister Speaker." They're both great books, and they both provide a real look under the covers of deal-making and procedure. For a guy who has been there 357 years or so as Sessions has to decry the sausage making strikes me as preening.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2015 10:28 AM

I'm posting this message to each of the three, front-range Reps (tho' Buck is more like El Norte), and Senator Gardner's site. Could be as effective as shouting at clouds, but perhaps not...

Please vote against the current budget deal, announced last night and slated for vote this afternoon. The country will not default on the debt, and the increased spending is not practically, believably balanced out. That it was written without widespread discussion or input is it's best indictment. This is a deal of the powerful, by the powerful, for the powerful.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 28, 2015 11:27 AM

Well done, NB. It's more than I done.

I think what's being decried here jk is "deal making" where one side gets everything. Including the roll back of previously hard-won gains. Respectfully, doing that ain't hard.

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2015 2:26 PM

I'll float this criticism by Stephen Moore, which is jam packed with exactly ZERO references to Senator Sessions.

Worst of all is the rise in the debt ceiling with NO conditions attached. There are no spending reforms, no program eliminations, no new caps to stop the blizzard of borrowing that has lifted the debt ceiling into the near $20 trillion stratosphere. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew urged this outcome saying it is a way to "honor our financial obligations." but he doesn't get it: Washington incurs too many financial obligations which is how this crisis has led us to the edge of a fiscal abyss.

Nancy Pelosi is a happy camper today and so are almost all the Democrats. They won a big victory and Republicans who back it are fiscal frauds. It should be killed and Paul Ryan should start over.

But for some reason, Paul Ryan doesn't seem to want to start over. Hmmm.

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2015 3:11 PM

Huge Stephen Moore fan, but the WSJ Ed Board is more sanguine. The Best Worst Budget Deal:

The deal is worth supporting if only to avoid the alternative, which would be even more Democratic leverage and Republicans backing into a "clean" debt limit increase with fewer entitlement reforms. One lesson for the GOP is that they will get more of what they want if they unify around a few priorities.

Mr. Ryan, who will become the next Speaker this week, rightly said Tuesday that "the process stinks" -- but without internal cohesion, regular order breaks down and budgeting migrates to secret talks that cut out everybody but the leadership. The larger lesson is that if conservatives want a conservative budget, then they need to win the White House.

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2015 5:26 PM

"...with fewer entitlement reforms..."

What entitlement reform is in the current budget deal? My impression is that there aren't any. Is that erroneous?

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2015 7:17 PM

"But Republicans did secure modest entitlement reforms. The deal repeals an ObamaCare mandate for businesses to automatically enroll workers in health benefits, regardless of the cost. It also equalizes the Medicare payment rates for hospital and outpatient care to mitigate losses from providers that game the formula to get paid more for the same services.

"Most important, Social Security will get its first upgrade since the 1980s to fix disability insurance. A slack economy and policy expansions under George W. Bush and Mr. Obama have transformed disability from a safety net into a middle-age retirement program and the rolls have exploded. Benefits were scheduled to fall by 20% next year because the program’s “trust fund” is nearly bankrupt."

Posted by: Jk at October 28, 2015 10:25 PM

Can't read the WSJ editorial yet... I do see this part, which bears the mark of realism... distressing realism perhaps, but powerfully aware of the current environment:

perhaps the only thing worse than passing it would be not passing it
which is a problem with today's GOP, who could not find their Gingrich-foil to the Obamanation.

The most distressing thing is runaway spending and the bureaucracy it's creating, IMO.

What I'd like feedback on is the Stephens article:

... federal spending in 2016 was already expected to climb by more than $200 billion... the budget deal to end the caps spending rises by an extra $80 billion over two years plus another $35 billion for the military. So now we are going to see a $300 billion hike in spending in 2016 which is close to an 8 percent spending orgy

What is the deal with federal "budget"? I thought the sequester had stopped all this... and the current deal only allowed $80B (over two years)... what's with the $200B?? I guess even the sequester (BHO's idea, after all) only temporarily suspended all the rampant spending that Reid had pushed through (HOW exactly? I heard the pundits say he never actually passed a budget).

If, as I expect, that even the smart folks in reach of this blog can't explain in a short paragraph, then I declare that, like immigration, this system appears broken (unless you're on K-street)....

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 11:18 AM

One paragraph?

No.

Examining the grisly logic underpinning the sequester is a start: Republicans will be so intent on more military spending, they will trade in their opposition to Democrats' social spending. Some smart guys around here might make a good case for enumerated powers and proper role of government. But I b'lieve that's called logrolling, and I believe it dooms specnding cuts in representative democracy without some structural limits (say Colorado's TABOR or he Tenth Amendment...)

Posted by: jk at October 29, 2015 11:48 AM

What is this "fix" for SSDI? Is it real, or is it another Washington gimmick?

Benefits were scheduled to fall by 20% next year because the program's "trust fund" is nearly bankrupt.

What? So the budget deal will prevent that "austerity" windfall... how, exactly? According to Investor's Business Daily, the capitalist version (as opposed to the corporatist version) of the Wall St. Journal, with smoke and mirrors:

Pension "smoothing" — a Bernie Madoff-type accounting fraud that lets companies delay pension contributions, reducing their tax write-offs and raising their tax payments. Revenues go up in the short term, but fall in the long term because the pension payments eventually have to be made.
Posted by: johngalt at October 29, 2015 11:56 AM

Again, I write poorly while urging others to be concise... physician, heal thyself...
In one paragraph explain how the US Gov't budget is _supposed_ to be done; is it a Congressional act? An appropriation? A Bill? All three?

Heck, I'll put that into my list of columns for when I can get paid by the word.... should be a rainmaker ... explain ("no, eez too much, lemme summarize...") the current imbroglio caused by Harry Reid's cynical manipulation of a tottering colossus that's lead to most of the last decade being run on Continuing Resolutions, which appears to have been gleefully embraced (occasionally leg-humped) by McConnel & Boehner.

more military spending, they will trade in their opposition to Democrats' social spending
Reagan did so; convinced I still be it was the right thing for that time....

Yes, to answer your question: ALL of the "revenue/savings" ideas - save for pumping oil out of the Strat Reserve (while prices are rock-bottom!) - are made of things that would get any citizen thrown in jail.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 29, 2015 12:29 PM | What do you think? [11]