It is still inexplicable to me why Republicans should violate their pledge against passing an Omnibus, in order to meet an artificial deadline set by those who never passed a budget.
Democrats were too incompetent to pass a budget, even while they controlled all branches of government, thereby creating a need to pass the budget through a series of continuing resolutions. Now that Republicans control the House, and have a real budget on the table, Democrats have conveniently become disdainful of CRs. They have also undergone a cathartic conversion to meeting budget deadlines.
At this point, the big-government statists in both parties know that the only way for conservatives to fight for any semblance of the House budget – both in terms of spending levels and policy riders – is to drag out the process beyond December 16. Conservatives would be able to force Senate Democrats to pass the remaining nine spending bills one at a time. This would give House conservatives the leverage to amend each bill and force Democrats into defending embarrassing spending bills, which fund unpopular laws and agencies, on nine separate occasions. In plain English, this is exactly how the budget process is supposed to work, pursuant to the 1974 Budget Act.
“Oh, but it is already so late in the year,” cries Democrats, and oddly, Republican leaders. Well, dummies, whose fault is that? We passed our budget on time. Now you want to come in late and subvert the process under the guise of budget tardiness?
Instead, Democrats want to bundle the nine spending bills into an
omnibus megabus (no, we’re not referring to the intercity bus service), and wash their hands of the FY 2012 budget process by December 16, when the current CR expires. This will allow them to suffer just one unpopular vote. Also, CRs would approriate less funding than an Omnibus for agencies like the EPA. More importantly, it will enable them to circumvent the House conservatives, and vitiate all of their policy riders, most notably, the ones defunding Obamacare. The conference committee is convening today (you can see the list of conferees here, and formulate your own opinion).
If you want to know why Democrats are taking this approach, here are the problems with the megabus bill:
1) Process: Republicans will be forced to throw their pledge to America under the megabus. They promised not to pass bundled appropriations bills. Moreover, this impending bill will be worse than a regular omnibus. Republican appropriators have agreed to use a bill that has already passed both houses (MilCon-VA) as a vehicle to send the megabus straight to conference. At that point, the bipartisan statists will control the entire process, and force House Republicans to vote up-or-down on the entire budget without any amendments.
2) Spending Totals: Not only will this bill completely nullify the House-passed budget – the only budget on the table – it will appropriate more money for FY 2012 than FY 2011. In other words, there will be no real cuts. Even though the Budget Control Act capped total discretionary budget authority at $1.043 trillion (down from $1.0497 in 2011), this infinitesimal cut will be cancelled out by up to $11 billion in emergency disaster spending, which is not subject to the spending caps. Also, once we account for the $11 billion cut in base-budget defense spending, it turns out that some non-defense expenditures will actually increase. In addition, mandatory spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the budget, will continue to increase.
3) Obamacare: The House version of the HHS-Labor bill will deny all funding to execute Obamacare programs. Also, the Financial Services bill contains two provisions barring the IRS from implementing Obamacare. The first would block certain transfers of money from HHS to the IRS related to implementation of Obamacare. The second provision would prohibit the IRS from using funds provided through the bill to verify that individuals have health care coverage and impose penalties on those who do not. The megabus will strip out these provisions.
4) Other Policy Rider: The Labor approps bill funds many malignant labor policies of the NLRB. The HHS bill funds abortion. The Interior- Environment bill funds many menacing EPA policies. The Financial Services bill funds Dodd-Frank. The Senate State-Ops bill funds the Palestinians and the UN. The list goes on and on. Obviously, we understand that we will not win on every policy rider. But we must not sell out on the major issues, such as Obamacare and the EPA, in place of some vapid, inconsequential gesture to gun owners or the pro-life lobby. Believe me; the appropriators will not willingly agree to a consequential pro-life rider, such as defunding Planned Parenthood. This is why we need to fight these issues one-by-one, bill-by-bill.
So why would Republican leaders and appropriators offer the Democrats all these gratuitous political and policy gifts?
Taking them by their word, they seem to be concerned about taking up more valuable legislative time with appropriations. They just want to get it over with.
But why abandon the biggest Democrat liability and treat it as if it’s a Republican liability? Republicans always complain that they can’t get anything done because they only control one-half of… Well, duh? They lack the ability to pass good legislation, but they still have the power to block pernicious legislation. To that end, why are they abrogating their pledge to block bad legislation in order to save time for other legislative work that won’t pass? They should spend the entire session forcing Democrats to defend Obamacare. Why are we bailing them out from their biggest debt with the voting public? Why are Republicans in a rush to move on from issues that embarrass Democrats?
Republicans should pass a stand-alone Labor-HHS appropriations bill defunding Obamacare and make the Democrats defend their efforts to reinstate that funding. Pass another separate Financial Services bill, which cuts off the IRS’s ability to enforce the individual mandate. Let Democrats defend their efforts on behalf of Obamacare once again. We will continue the narrative about Obamacare from a position of strength, instead of allowing Obama to change the subject to issues he views as more favorable.
It would be nice to know how the capitulations on policy are politically advantageous for Republicans. Then again, they are called the stupid party for a reason.