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Republicans Kill the Omnibus (and the Food Safety Bill Along With It)

December 17, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As things were coming together for Democrats on the tax bill in the House, the omnibus appropriations bill was falling apart in the Senate. Last night, Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] announced on the Senate floor that nine Republicans who who had said they would support the bill had changed their minds and were now planning to vote against it. That left the Democrats with too few votes, and Reid with no choice but to pull the bill from the floor.

According to the Senate Democrats’ calendar, Reid’s plan is now to work with Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell [R, KY] on an agreement to pass a short term continuing resolution that will keep the government funded until February or so. This will give the Republicans in the 112th Congress more power over setting spending levels and deciding which parts of the government get funding, and which don’t. That’s what this is all about. As Jamie Dupree explains, this bill has been in the works for a long time, and it has always been bipartisan:

What most people probably don’t realize is that the Omnibus bill was the product of months of negotiations between Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee, all of which had the backing of Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

In other words – it was Business As Usual in the Congress.

“It was a Democratic and Republican bill,” complained Sen. Reid.

But after the results of the November elections were in – where a dominant message was that Congress was spending too much money – McConnell pulled a 180 degree turn and declared his opposition to the bill, ultimately bringing other GOP Senators along with him.

The bill even contained the exact spending level requested by the Republicans. And, as for the earmarks in the bill — the top two recipients would have been Republicans. McConnell himself had 35 earmarks in it totaling $112 million. Dave Weigel at Slate suggests that the increased openness in earmarking made it hard for Republicans to play both sides of the game here and ultimately led to the fall of the bill. “The increasing transparency of the earmark process was going to make it tougher for Republicans to support this bill and get away with it.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which has passed both chambers but the House is refusing to send to Obama because of a minor procedural infraction, was also included in the omnibus. Democrats say they are trying to reach an agreement with Republicans on putting it in the continuing resolution, but according to a Republican aide who spoke with The Hill, that’s not going to happen and the bill is effectively dead.

Related from NRO and NPR: more behind the scenes on how the omnibus fell. And from TPM: A Primer On The Fallout Of OmnibusFAIL.

UPDATE, 12/29/10: The food safety bill ended up being revised by the Democrats and passed on 12/21/10 in a stand-alone version as a substitute amendment to H.R.2751. It’s the same exact text as the Senate version. The bill has been cleared for the White House and will be signed into law soon.

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Displaying 1-30 of 39 total comments.

  • Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 8:15am

    You know, I’m glad this is bill is dead. I’m a Democrat all the way – I long for a more collectivist America not driven only by money. And I long for an America where everyone truly does have equal opportunity to contribute to a better world in a meaningful way. Some people (Republicans) hold a delusional, or at least naive, view that this is how America is now. Research shows otherwise.

    That being said, I don’t think our federal elected officials should be spending any time or money on issues that don’t affect each state equally. Perhaps another way to deal with special projects is in order. Perhaps each state should be forced to learn how to create and manage their own budgets.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/17/2010 10:21am

    “Research show otherwise.” Source?

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 11:49am

    There is an enormous gap in opportunity between the social classes. For example, compared to the middle and upper classes, the poor die sooner, have more mental problems, higher divorce rates, less access to education, and more likely to be a victim or perpetrator of violent crime.

    A child born to a mother in poverty (likely a single mother) DOES NOT have the same opportunity to succeed as a child born into privilege. He does, however, have a small chance for upward mobility (past his mother on the social ladder), but not enough to say that he has equal opportunity.

    To be continued..

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 11:49am

    Some statistics about America’s population that live in poverty: About 38 million people (in 2002) meet the criteria for being classified as poor. Close to half are outside of working age, mostly too young to work (CHILDREN). The majority of poor are white or Latino. 38% of the poor population is single parent families.

    Similar statistics can be shown for the obstacles faced by minorities or women. The fact is, a rich white male has every opportunity. Is it odd that most of the wealthy are Republicans???

    Henslin, J. M. (2005). Sociology; A Down to Earth Approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
    The Statistical Abstract 2002

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/17/2010 12:24pm

    You’re confusing opportunity with likelihood. Poor people are not as likely to succeed, but some do overcome the odds. If the opportunity didn’t exist, no poor people would overcome those odds.

    While there are many rich Democrats, rich people do have a greater tendency to be Republican. It all makes sense, though. People who have earned a lot of money want to keep what they earn; they will be in favor of lower tax policies. Poor people will want what the rich have; they will favor more redistribution of wealth. Those are general rules, of course; there are exceptions.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 1:47pm

    “Equal opportunity” means that not just SOME people can overcome the odds… it means that anyone that has reasonable intelligence, and tries hard should be able to make it, but that isn’t what’s happening. Your statement furthers the idea that there is NOT equal opportunity. There is SOME opportunity. The few that do surpass their upbringing are not the rule, they are the exception, the statistics demonstrate the rule.

    The idea of redistribution of wealth is again a symantic distinction – a nice way of saying “what’s mine is mine, and it’s fine if all the poor people live in ditch.” Or better yet, “the government can take care of them, that’s why we have welfare (but I don’t want to pay for it)”

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 1:52pm

    By the way, I have been on both sides of the fence. Before I lost my job (because I was a single mother) I would have been considered upper middle class. I did surpass my upbringing – only because I went to college – which I never would have been able to do without the government paying for it. Now I’m back in the poor house. I get so annoyed with people living in million dollar mansions treating me like I’m lazy or not trying hard enough – that this situation is my fault.

    The rich have the excess resources to avoid being much affected by our country’s current situation, and the pain is endured by the poor and middle classes.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/17/2010 2:45pm

    And that is why raising taxes on the rich only hurts people who aren’t rich. The rich can afford it, but in the process, jobs may disappear. The rich aren’t just going to eat the loss.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 4:47am

    No, the rich aren’t just going to eat the loss. They are going to fight to protect their wealth, regardless of the sacrifices that any other groups in America have to make.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/17/2010 2:40pm

    As a general rule, anybody with reasonable intelligence who works their butt off can make it. My dad grew up working in orange groves, and now he’s owned his own business for about twenty years. People with nothing come to this country to work their butts off so their children can have a better life.

    It’s not the government’s constitutional right to give money from the rich to the poor. I fail to see social security and medicare in the Constitution. No, I would rather give my money to people myself than have the government take my money as they see fit, sift it through a bureaucracy, and then give it away.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 4:43am

    I would rather that were the case too… that’s exactly what I’ve been saying. That’s what a collectivist society does. The people take care of each other instead of the government having to do it, but that’s just not reality. It doesn’t have to be about “redistribution of wealth” but a certain standard of living for ALL Americans which includes the basic nessessities – food, shelter, medical care… so that they can invest their energies into something more than survival.

    The general rule is the rich stay rich, and the poor stay poor. That’s what the above statistics show. And the best qualified don’t get the jobs, and the smartest kids don’t always get high quality education so that they can go on to reach their potential, so a kid with an excessive IQ who might have the potential to really make a significant difference in the world is wasted away in a school that is BUILT to force them into the average.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/18/2010 7:26am

    Contrary to popular belief, the richest and the poor are dynamic demographics. The face of the richest quintile is always changing. People don’t stay rich forever, and people don’t stay poor forever. At least, there’s a decent chance. I have some links, but I’ll hit some of the high points for you.

    “Income mobility of individuals was considerable in the U.S. economy during the 1996 through 2005 period with roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom quintile moving up to a higher income group within 10 years.”

    “A 2000 Economic Policy Institute study showed that almost 60 percent of Americans in the lowest income quintile in 1969 were in a higher quintile in 1996, and over 61 percent in the highest income quintile had moved down into a lower income quintile during the same period.”


  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 10:37am

    Both of these statements are deceptive, and I’ll tell you why. The “quintile” that a household falls into is irrespective of how many income earners (or dependants) are in the home. So, a family of 6 might be considered poor in the second lowest quintile, but a family of 2 would not. Now, if the data were adjusted for household size, it might be more relevant. In the second statement, it’s absolultely absurd to even consider it in light of the huge time span that it reflects. Over that 30 years, women have increasingly entered the workforce alongside their husbands. This data could easily be representative of that.

    Interesting reading:
    This is a link found by following up on the research used in the article you provided.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/18/2010 6:55pm

    Are you seriously going to try to tell me that households moved into a higher quintile because half of the lowest quintile households got married, had four kids, and put them to work in the space of ten years?

    I may be able to agree with your second counter-argument to an extent, but that first one is just silly.

    Also, that doesn’t explain the fall of the highest quintile earners unless you’re going to say that they got divorced and kicked their four kids out.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 10:38am
    From wikipedia:

    “2006 economic survey also found that households in the top two income quintiles, those with an annual household income exceeding $60,000, had a median of two income earners while those in the lower quintiles (2nd and middle quintile) had median of only one income earner per household.”
    A study by the Southern Economic Journal found that “71 percent of American economists believe the distribution of income in the US should be more equal, and 81 percent feel that the redistribution of income is a legitimate role for government.”

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/18/2010 7:02pm

    I don’t care if 99.9% of American economists feel that redistribution of wealth is a legitimate role of government. It’s not in the Constitution, at least not as it’s being done today and certainly not the extent to which it’s being done today. Education funding was backed by the father of the Constitution, James Madison, but little more than that. I believe he saw education as more of a national security issue:

    “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/18/2010 7:02pm


  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/18/2010 7:34am

    The government’s job is not to provide for our basic necessities. The government’s job is to protect our freedoms. There are good people out there who do help other people. I’m far from wealthy, but I manage to help people. If I see someone that I know is trying their hardest, I have helped that person out before. There are good people out there.

    However, the government likes to go after rich people and charities. They look at those and see untapped income potential. Those are the very people that are most likely to help other people, usually working in tandem. Everyone has their cute little foundation or whatever.

    Everything doesn’t always seem fair, but given enough effort, everyone has a chance at success here.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 10:50am

    At a statistical level, income inequality has grown due to gains of higher-income (above median) households relative to the median, rather than losses of lower income households relative to the median, which has been occurring roughly linearly (on a log scale) since the 1960s, as indicated in chart at top. Income inequality has grown particularly due to increased concentration of income in top earners (top 1%, .1%, 0.01%) since the mid-1980s

    Also from wikipedia.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 10:53am

    The rich stay rich…
    In a 2008 editorial for the New York Times, Bartles pointed out, “The real incomes of middle-class families grew more than twice as fast under Democratic presidents as they did under Republican presidents. Even more remarkable, the real incomes of working-poor families (at the 20th percentile of the income distribution) grew six times as fast when Democrats held the White House. Only the incomes of affluent families were relatively impervious to partisan politics, growing robustly under Democrats and Republicans alike.”56

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/18/2010 7:11pm

    I feel like you’re missing the point. Income inequality loses a lot of its relevance when confronted with the fact that half the people who were in the lowest class ten years ago are not in that lowest class today. Also, nearly a quarter of that top one percent of income earners from ten years ago are not in that top one percent today.

    Income inequality may not be completely irrelevant, but income mobility is much more relevant. That income of the lowest quintile going up or down does not apply to half the people who were in the lowest quintile ten years ago.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 8:48pm

    I’m enjoying this conversation, but no… We’re looking at the data from two different perspectives. You’re interpreting the mobility statement as meaning that “half of the people that used to be poor, aren’t anymore” when that’s not an accurate representation of what the data actually means. Statistically, that is an inference that is not justified when you look at the origination of the data. Since it’s all based on means of household income, and not tracking individual families, it only presents a change in the proportion of people that fall into specific catagories – which by the way is affected by the RANGE of the data. Example to follow.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 9:25pm

    OK, here it is:
    First group of households have incomes of
    8, 12, 19, 20, 20, 23, 45, 60, 89, 90, 130, 150

    In this group, each quartile (for simplicity, the math works the same way) contains three of the families.
    The first quartile are the low income 8, 12 and 19 and the fourth quartile are the high income 90, 130, 150.

    The general concensus seems to be that inequality has GROWN, but that incomes in general have grown for most groups. The second test looks like this:
    10, 13, 23, 25, 30, 45, 50, 60, 130, 160, 250, 400

    In this set now, the first quartile is 10, 13, 23 and the fourth is 160, 250, 400.

  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/18/2010 9:25pm

    Here’s what you should notice in this data set to get the idea behind why the quintile measurement does not show actual social class mobility:
    In our hypothetical situation, a family that made 130 in the first test would be in the fourth quartile, but in the second test would be in the third, with the same income. That’s how someone can “move down” to a lesser quintile in the data you’re looking at.

    Mobility between quintiles does not reflect a change in income, it simply reflects a change in where that income level RANKS compared to all incomes.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/19/2010 2:35pm

    Except if I understand the following article correctly, they are actually matching income tax returns from 1996 to the returns of those same individuals in 2005. They are not talking about changes in proportion but about changes in the income levels of specific individuals or couples.

    Also, it occurs to me that the lowest quintile isn’t going to show much improvement in income because there are always people entering the workforce at the bottom end.

  • Toolmakersdaughter 12/17/2010 8:16am

    I wouldn’t start celebrating just yet. Reid is a man that plays dirty pool. Just look at how the shoved through Obamacare after we thought it was dead as a doornail. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO CELEBRATE! Stay vigilant and watch Reid like a hawk.

  • Jgetty80 12/17/2010 9:00am

    Isn’t this funny! President Obama gives the republicans exactly what they want in the tax cut bill that adds almost a trillion dollars to the debt by giving millionaires and billionaires a tax cut that they do not need. The lower taxes haven’t worked for the past ten years. If they’re worried about paying taxes on their money, give me your money and I’ll pay the taxes. President Clinton raised the taxes in 1993 and 22 million jobs were created in the 90’s. How many jobs were created under Bush? All the republicans know how to do is say no. It could be their idea but if President Obama says yes that’s a good idea, I’m for it. All of a sudden, republicans are against it because the President likes it. Republicans are hypocrites. They put their hundreds of millions of dollars in earsmarks in this bill and now they say “we don’t like earmarks, we’re voting against this”. The tax bill that was just passed adds over 100 times the amount to the deficit.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/17/2010 12:03pm

    Tax cuts are incapable of adding debt. Only spending can add debt. People don’t go into debt automatically. They go into debt because they spend more than they have.

    Tax cuts hit their current levels with the 2003 rates at which point the unemployment rate dropped. Incidentally, the unemployment rate dropped when President Reagans tax cuts kicked in full force as well.

    Unemployment rates were dropping before the tax hike in 1993. President Clinton got on for the ride of the Internet boom. He was also helped along by some conservative policies like welfare reform.

    I don’t believe in that jobs lost/created crap. I’ll take the unemployment numbers.


  • Comm_reply
    Bunnie1978 12/17/2010 12:21pm

    It’s true that limiting the money coming in does not directly add to debt, however, it does factor in. Our government has been running on less money than it needs for, I believe, the whole 10 years that Americans have been enjoying the extra money in our paychecks. You can correct me if I’m wrong here… have we had a balanced budget at all in the last 10 years?

    I won’t say our taxation system is perfect, nor will I say that the government is a responsible steward of their financial responsibility, (these are two things we should all care about, but I’m too busy worrying about getting a job so that I don’t have to live in my car with my two year old) but it’s a semantic loophole to say that tax cuts don’t add the to debt. If you are really concerned about 5% for the wealthy, who have ample opportunity to shelter their income, perhaps you should personally work on paying down the debt.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 12/17/2010 12:46pm

    Hey, I’m not in favor of the last who-knows-how-many years of spending more than is taken in. Our government isn’t running on less money than it needs, though; it’s spending more money than it needs.

    Yes, I’m concerned about about the people who already pay 58% of our taxes. Those people provide jobs. Even better, how about we drop our corporate tax rate from its position of highest in the world (Japan recently lowered their corporate tax rate, making us the highest)?

    Sources: page 4

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