No wonder Democrats casually disregard our budget crisis. They have a penchant to drop zeros from government expenditures! Last month, Democrat congressional candidate Dave Weprin thought that the national debt stood at $4.0 trillion. Now Harry Reid has filed cloture on his version of the FY 2012 CR that has a missing zero from some of the disaster aid expenditures. According to CQ Politics, Reid’s bill, which contains $3.65 billion in emergency disaster aid – with no offsetting spending – misallocated funding for the Disaster Relief Fund at “$774,000,00,” and “$226,000,00” for the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control and coastal emergencies. These guys have a serious problem with arithmetic.
Senate Republicans must use this error as an opportunity to defeat Reid’s bill, while the House must stand firm on their version of the CR, which contains $1.5 billion in offsets. House leaders have already compromised on the overall discretionary budget authority in this bill; a $24 billion increase from the universally venerated Ryan budget. The only saving grace of this bill from a conservative perspective is that it eliminates a $1.5 billion DOE loan program for manufacturers of $100,000 electric cars and the $100 million solar energy loan grant that was responsible for Solar-gate.
On Friday, Harry Reid tabled the House-passed CR, and filed cloture on his own version, setting up a cloture vote for Monday night. Although Democrats only have 53 votes, several Republicans have already supported an even higher level of disaster spending without offsets. This is where Harry Reid’s math error will play a vital role. Under Senate rules, once a senator has forced a roll call, that senator proposing the amendment cannot change the text without unanimous consent. Harry Reid will need that consent in order to fix his mistake, in the hopes that he can get this done by Monday night and pressure House Republicans to cave, so they can all enjoy their scheduled recess. Senate Republicans must deny that consent.
To that end, Reid would be forced to file a new cloture vote, thereby overshooting their entire recess – for a green program. The longer this ordeal drags out the more Reid will be pressured to adopt the House bill.
This Bush-era green loan program epitomizes crony capitalism and everything that is wrong with market interventions. Investor’s Business Daily offers a succinct analysis of the program:
According to DOE, almost $1 billion in loans have gone to two companies — Fisker Automotive and Tesla Motors — that specialize in super high-end luxury electric cars. The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid has a base price of around $95,000; Tesla's Roadster starts at $109,000.
Another $6 billion in loans went to Ford, a company that turned in a $6.6 billion profit in 2010 — its largest in more than a decade. And $1.4 billion went to Nissan to help it crank out the Leaf, the all-electric car that's had a grand total of 6,187 sales in its first eight months — despite $7,500 in federal tax credits to buyers.
Ah, but Democrats say these loans are creating good "green" jobs. Even if you accept the DOE's dubious claim of 40,000 jobs "created or saved," that still comes to $225,000 in risky loans per job.
Republicans must hold the line against these market-distorting, crony capitalist programs, especially in light of the public outrage over the Solyndra scandal. Besides, why should they negotiate with people who have refused to pass a budget?
They have already compromised on the 2011 CR, the Ryan budget, the defunding of Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, the EPA, and NPR, the debt ceiling, a balanced budget amendment, and transportation spending/national gasoline tax. The time for compromise is over. If the Democrats are willing to shut down the government over $1.5 billion in ‘loans for the green rich,’ which are rife with corruption, so be it. If Republicans can’t hold the line against an unpopular green program, when will they ever find the gumption to eliminate Obamacare, force the issue on free-market entitlement reform, or eliminate the entire Department of (Green) Energy?