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The Real Problem With Funding the Government

April 7, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

After meeting late Wednesday night with House Speaker John Boehner [R, OH-8], Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D, NV] took to the floor this morning and said that agreeing on a topline budget number isn’t the thing blocking a deal on preventing a government shutdown Friday night, it’s social policy. “Our differences are no longer over the savings we get on government spending, Reid said. “The only thing holding up an agreement is ideology.”

When the House passed the budget bill, the Republican majority added an unprecedented number of policy riders to it, touching on just about every major political issue you can think of. While budgets always affect social policy, decisions on which programs to cut and which to fund should be made in the regular appropriations process that allows for committee review and public input. Of course, the Democrats failed to complete the appropriations process last year when they controlled Congress, and that’s why we now have to do the budget through a continuing resolution. But that doesn’t justify the Republicans bypassing congressional deliberation and public review now.

For a taste of the policy riders that are currently in the budget bill and preventing the Democrats and Republicans from reaching a deal, I’ve highlighted a dozen or so below. Links go to the actual legislative text of the riders.

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Displaying 31-49 of 49 total comments.

  • Comm_reply
    Mahlalie 04/07/2011 8:53pm

    To be fair, this isn’t just the Dems’ mess. This has been building up for quite a while now. While they weren’t as bad as Congress has been over the last couple of years, the Dubya-era congressional Republicans were terrible as well.

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  • justoneeagle6 04/08/2011 1:20am

    I totally agree with luminous above. It just keeps getting tougher for the Battler’s while the rich get richer and continue to fill their pockets. Clearly we’re in a state of uncertainty in this country. It’s basic money principles 101. After the global financial crisis the people don’t have confidence anymore. The government needs to learn that if we don’t have the money, there is no money to spend.

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  • fishin54 04/08/2011 6:16am

    Has everyone forgotton that we are going thru the worst economic chrisis since the great depression, and that the housing bubble was created buy capitalistic greed, and that we are involved in 2 major military conflicts. This deficit didnt happen since the present administration came to office. Change needs to come to spending yes, but in a thoughtful manner, not just a knee jerk reaction by a select few.

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    fakk2 04/08/2011 7:57am


    It’s funny you say that about the deficit, because it did happen since the present administration came into office.


  • mblockhart 04/08/2011 7:33am

    This isn’t about budgeting, spending or revenue. It’s called “backdoor legislation.” Although the budget is approved by a bill it is not “legislating.” Legislating is where the governing bodies pass a bill that does, undoes or modifies some sort of government function. The reason why Republicons are attempting this backdoor legislating is they know the real legislation won’t pass. They’re too chicken to put their ideas to the test of hearings, debate and voting. They may know that it won’t pass because it’s the wrong thing to do (e.g., cutting EPA regulation). Or, as in the case with PP defunding, the idea has been rejected and they won’t take no for an answer. They don’t believe in democracy. They think they should dictate policy to the rest of government, ignoring the balance of powers in the Constitution. They claim that the mandate of the 2010 election was to cut spending when it actually was not. And these policy riders do not reflect the wishes of the American people.

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    eth111 04/08/2011 4:51pm

    Anyone who pays attention knows that it is currently impossible to have an honest debate about any legislation, either in the legislatures or in public. Honest civil debate is a lost art in this country replaced by sloganeering, half-truths, and genuflecting.

    The debate that needs to take place, and is attempting to take place, is not about what is right and wrong, but about what is the proper role of government. Planned Parenthood, CPB, Dept. of Ed, all do not qualify as proper functions. The EPA is a tricky one since there are some functions that it should be performing that are proper, but hamstringing corporations is not one of them.

    Democracy, which is an over used term in the current sorry excuse for debate, is nothing more than mob rule. 51% of the people can legally usurp the rights of the other 49% simply because they have control.

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    fakk2 04/08/2011 7:58am


    actually it might be worse if they could only serve 1 term, what would they have to lose?

  • eth111 04/08/2011 4:45pm

    First and foremost, there hasn’t been an actual budget passed since FY2008. The government has been operating on “Continuing Resolution” since October 1, 2009.

    Second, when the primary function of the politicians in government is pandering to every special interest group that comes along, whether it be the rich, the poor, the union, the corporations, or the minorities, we get what we have here.

    The government’s proper function is to guarantee that each member of society can use their life, liberty, and property as they see fit, unmolested by others. As Bastiat so eloquently put it; "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place

  • ebritt 04/09/2011 1:53am

    H.R. 1 is missing a critical policy rider. The rider that requires reparations from the financial industry that caused the financial crisis and the great recession.

    If B.P. has off shore drilling accident, it is required to pay for the damages it caused. I find it ironic that the Republicans want to slash Medicare and Social Security because the financial crisis has reduced revenue to the government.

    Americans believe in individual responsibility. The Finanical Industry, through reckless and irresponsible behavior, looted American taxpayers and doubled our deficit. An enterprising Congress member needs to draft a bill requiring the financial industry to pay reparations to the American taxpayers for the havoc it has caused.

    Congress is pursuing the wrong agenda. Stop punishing our retirees, the disabled and the unemployed and go after the real culprits. I suggest nameing the bill "The Financial Crisis Reparations Act of 2011. Take away the industry’s tax exemptions.

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    fakk2 04/09/2011 8:24am


    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but do you really think you’re owed reparations from a non-breathing entity? I wouldn’t say a corporation is non-living, but it definitely doesn’t breathe in the same sense that we do.

    Considering that $243B out of $245B has been paid back out of TARP monies (not including interest which amounts to a total $274B that has been paid back), I would say they don’t owe us anything. That’s kinda like a company that makes widgets which has a negative public perception (it’s not doing anything illegal mind you, just bad PR) and saying it would be required to pay people that are not it’s creditors. That doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t owe us just because it has a negative public perception.

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    fakk2 04/09/2011 9:10am

    Americans believe in individual liberty as well. Are we supposed to regulate who must do what just because Americans don’t like them? “If B.P. has off shore drilling accident, it is required to pay for the damages it caused.” That’s not entirely correct. Sure, BP did pay, but only because we have a President who acts more like a king. BP didn’t knowingly pollute the waters by dumping hazardous chemicals, it exploded. It was out of BP’s control. Had they knowingly polluted the waters by purposefully dumping chemicals, then yes, they should have paid out of a legal obligation for the destruction they caused. But if a company makes widgets and one of their refineries blows up unexpectedly, dumping oil into the city drinking water, I have a hard time reconciling their mandatory repayment.

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    fakk2 04/09/2011 9:10am

    It just doesn’t sit well with having to pay a penalty like BP did for what is out of their control. That doesn’t mean the widget company wouldn’t be able to be sued in civil court by the town or citizens though, but that’s not what happened with BP or the financial industry.

    How are retirees being punished by the proposed Ryan Budget? How are the disabled and unemployed being punished? Does putting a finite limit on what is spent for 1 or more groups of people mean they’re getting punished?

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    nmeagent 04/10/2011 8:06am

    ebritt, this ‘critical policy rider’ that you advocate would be a bill of attainder, the passage of which is unconstitutional. What’re you’re suggesting must be pursued in court.

  • JoshuaForPresident 04/10/2011 4:34pm

    The Republicans have made this a not-too-friendly-democrat Christmas tree bill. Many Democrats will NOT support this bill because of the following:

    It cut funding for the new Health Care bill.

    Blocking the EPA from regulating green house gases.
    As well as blocking the opening internet campaign.

    Those clauses will have little to no Democratic support, which will hinder passing this budget bill.

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