fiscal 2013 budget debate
My column from today's Roll Call explains why the "reconciliation" bill the House passed last week that the GOP leadership was so proud of and wanted everyone to think was a major accomplishment in reality was a scam, sham, and as close to a budget hoax as you can get.
House ‘Reconciliation’ Bill Was Anything But
Unless the House decides to consider another makes-no-sense-and-has-no-effect bill such as the “reconciliation” bill it passed last week, the fiscal 2013 budget process essentially is over and done with until after Americans go to the polls in November.
You remember "Seinfeld," the hit NBC show that proudly was about nothing?
If the show was still on the air doing original programs (It's obviously still on the air everywhere all the time in reruns), two federal budget-related events from yesterday no doubt would have inspired the writers and been the fodder for future episodes.
The first was the consideration and passage in the House of what was called the "Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012." The fact that the bill was adopted by the House means...wait for it...absolutely nothing because it has no chance whatsoever of being enacted. And in spite of its name, it's not a reconciliation bill and even if it were enacted it wouldn't completely replace the spending cut -- the sequester -- that is scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013.
Other than that it's very meaningful.
For the record, the vote was 218-199 and all of the ayes were Republicans. The no votes included 16 Republicans and 183 Democrats.
As I explain in my column from today's Roll Call, if you're not yet angry about The Cliff, you soon will be and what's taking you so long?
Coming to a Political Theater Near You: The Cliff
I only realized how angry I was about the cliff several days ago when I started to outline this week’s Fiscal Fitness. By the time I sat down to write it several days later, I was fit to be tied and needed to avoid anything that included caffeine.
You know what I mean by the “Fiscal Cliff” — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s ultimate Fed-speak for the budget apocalypse that could occur between Dec. 31 and Jan. 2. That’s when a series of existing federal-budget-related policies will expire and others will be triggered that could result in an economic calamity.
After a week off for...well, it's not really clear why other than to campaign Congress took the first week in May off...the House and Senate are returning to Washington this week and immediately getting back to their old tricks when it comes to the federal budget -- doing something that is purely symbolic, has no chance whatsoever of being enacted, and is bad policy to boot. Other than that, it's a great idea.
As far as we know now (Would anyone be surprised if something else popped up?), the most egregiously silly thing that's going to happen on the budget this week is the House's consideration of what House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is calling a "reconciliation" bill.
This bill would cut $78 billion in spending in fiscal 2013 and cancel the $90 billion spending cut that was triggered when the anything-but-super-committee failed to agree on a deficit reduction plan late last November. The bill also includes an additional $180 billion in spending cuts over the next nine years.
Several things need to be noted about this bill.
If you weren't convinced that anything related to the federal budget on Capital Hill is completely nuts this year, just think about these three things, all of which are happening this week:
1. The House is putting together a FY13 reconciliation package based on the GOP/Ryan plan it passed earlier this year even though (1) reconciliation is required to be based on the budget resolution conference agreement between the House and the Senate, (2) there will be no budget resolution conference report agreement this year and, therefore, there will be no reconciliation, and (3) nothing the House considers for its own private reconciliation has any chance of actually (or perhaps ever) being enacted.
2. The Senate Budget Committee is trying to mark up a FY 13 budget resolution that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already said will not be considered by the full Senate.