FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Washington at its Best
Washington is a place filled to the brim with irony and hypocrisy. This week Congress will consider a $1.1 trillion omnibus bill and an extension of dependency-inducing long-term unemployment benefits for the seventh year in a row. Watch how the irony unfolds.
After agreeing to undo part of the sequester for the first two years of the budget frame, as part of the Ryan-Murray agreement, the House plans to pass a full omnibus bill this week to reflect the topline budget numbers of that deal. Pursuant to the December agreement, one of the only real spending cuts used to offset the sequester cancellation was a cut in military pensions to those currently serving in the Armed Forces. Even though we all warned about the dyslexic priorities of that agreement, both parties proceeded to vote for the bill, opting to complain about those cuts the minute the bill was signed into law.
Fast-forward to this week and there are rumors that the omnibus bill will repeal those pension cuts. Remember, this omnibus bill is the execution vehicle of the Ryan-Murray deal, which was proposed for the very purpose of vitiating the sequester and replacing it with military pension cuts. What a bunch of fools.
The other main item on this week’s legislative agenda is Harry Reid’s bill in the Senate to extend unemployment benefits for yet another year. Towards the end of 2013, some sense of sanity finally settled upon Congress when they agreed not to extend this counterintuitive program – or at least 73-weeks’ worth of it. Just a few weeks later, after an aggressive push by Democrats to change the subject from Obamacare, Republicans are once again agreeing to the premise of extending UI. Even Senator Marco Rubio said there is a “general consensus” to extend the program, albeit with offsets.
Well, we all know how the game of offsets works. Typically, they cobble together a patchwork of notional and intangible savings from a dozen programs spread out over 10 years to cover the one-year cost. Now Harry Reid is taking this stratagem to a new low by offering offsets 11 years from now. In order to pay for the UI extension, he is offering to extend the mandatory spending cuts of the sequester into 2024, outside the 10-year budget frame.
Let’s take a quick step back for a moment. After terminating part of the first two years of the sequester, we are to believe that the sequester will survive long enough that it will still be around in 2024 to offset this year’s UI extension! The irony is that, at this pace, we will still be extending current law for unemployment benefits in 2024. I guess we will have a sliding sequester for the next 10 years. As we continue to terminate the current year’s sequester and extend UI for an additional year, we will add another year to the sequester outside the 10-year budget frame. So in 2024, we will add 2034 to the sequester.
You’re not missing anything. This is what happens when Republicans opt for pale-pastels and agree to the fundamental premise of a Democrat policy. The rest of the story is merely a convoluted scheme for both parties to save face with the public.
Rinse and repeat, and you have yourself the cycle of government in Washington.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project