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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 1-30 of 49 total comments.

bingocimo 04/07/2011 8:31am
in reply to emoquin Apr 07, 2011 8:11am

We have a budget deficit because multi-national corporations and the richest 1% don’t pay their share of, if any, taxes.

Further why isn’t there anything about reducing military spending, which takes up FAR MORE of our budget than all of these combined and multiplied.

The GOP is a joke and the Dems aren’t much better at this point.

eth111 04/09/2011 3:18am
in reply to luminous Apr 08, 2011 6:53pm

You’re getting closer to realizing the real truth – the Fed, by incessantly printing money and screwing around with interest rates devalues the dollar constantly. The biggest battle right now monetarily is to see if you can keep up with the devaluation of the dollar. $12000 in 1980 adjusted for inflation is $36000 in 2009. You see the symptom, yet fail to recognize the cause.

Over the last 80 years, the only economic knowledge we have accumulated is that the Keynesian model is a glaring failure.

Based on your posts on this site, I would argue that you are not lacking in intelligence, only information. Please read the actual works referenced above (it appears that your opinion is colored by someone else’s analysis). If one believes that a government that consumes 25% of the GDP is necessary, then economic theories based on the free market will seem like anarchy.

nmeagent 04/09/2011 10:02pm
in reply to Stubbs Apr 09, 2011 6:34am

Sorry, it’s not personal. There is a great deal of ignorance wrt. the Constitution floating around out there and I’ve just about run out of patience. In my opinion the belief that the federal government is a general government (i.e. only limited where explicitly mentioned) is almost entirely responsible for its growth into the all-encompassing monster that it is today and may contribute to the eventual death of liberty (as we know it). If the federal government may regulate anything and everything not explicitly mentioned in its founding document (despite the fact that the 9th and 10th amendments of that document specifically say otherwise), then there are no realistic limits on its power. Given time and will, even natural rights supposedly protected by the Bill of Rights aren’t safe.

grant3719 04/07/2011 10:21am
in reply to bingocimo Apr 07, 2011 8:31am

If you don’t have money in your bank account you just don’t spend money. It’s that simple. The Government does not have money in the bank so we just don’t spend it. I would go to jail if I handled money the way the Government does. so we just can’t spend what we don’t have. It realy is that simple!

nmeagent 04/10/2011 8:06am
in reply to ebritt Apr 09, 2011 1:53am

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.

fakk2 04/10/2011 5:39am
in reply to nmeagent Apr 09, 2011 10:02pm

Well said, and the “living document” belief, on top of what’s already been mentioned, means that the evil forces of tyranny will have constitutional authority to take away all our liberties, given enough time that is. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

hawkeye4u 04/07/2011 8:20pm

We need to cut spending. Not just 61 Billion. We need to cut trillions. Everyone is going to get hit for the Debt is so great this is what it is going to take to get us on track to balancing the Budget. This is the Dems mess and now the Repubs. are trying to clean up there mess and they the Dems don’t want to get serious and do some very serious cutting. All they know is to spend. We are taking the blank check from them and they are having a temper tantrim. Dems need to grow up and man up and face this problem that they have made 4 times worse and come with some solid and workable solutions instead of blaming Bush and the Repubs. They had several months to come up with a Budget but declined becasue of the election of 2010. Thats not what they are saying but thats the real reason they did not pass the Budget last year. This is there Conressional Duty under the Congressional law. Wait for the big battle when they have to take on the 2012 Budget. Won’t that be fun.

emoquin 04/07/2011 8:11am

If we can’t afford it…we can’t afford it. That being said, We need to stop funding an organization that we pioneered that now dislikes us…The UN. Especially, and after Obama redirected what NASA does saying he wants them to study Climate change, and NASA has recently said that the famed theory of Global Warming being a result of terrestrail beings, is bunk! Planned parenthood is better suited as done by NPO’s and individual community work. The FCC is a draconian agency that actually should be almost completely dismantled. U.S> Constitution forbids the government from having any power over the internet, especially since it is a global network. The EPA has gone around Congress and behind the backs of this country to impliment regulation on greenhouse gasses that congress voted down laws year. Draconian and illegal. Cut that funding for sure. Cap and Trade was voted down. I could go on and on but I will not…I hope you get the picture. Sorry. GOP is right on this one.

eth111 04/08/2011 4:51pm
in reply to mblockhart Apr 08, 2011 7:33am

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.

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

luminous 04/07/2011 9:15pm
in reply to Mahlalie Apr 07, 2011 5:17pm

middle class wages have been stagnant for the last 30 years, while upper income earnings have been sky rocketing.

The reason the upper brackets paid a larger percentage of the taxes is directly because the lower brackets don’t have the money anymore.


End the Bush tax holiday(hell End the Reagan tax holiday for that matter)!!!

Stubbs 04/07/2011 10:36am
in reply to emoquin Apr 07, 2011 8:11am


-A look on NASA’s website shows that they believe global warming is anthropogenic.

-Defunding Planned Parenthood does not mean that private groups will immediately replace it. But I guess it would be a funding cut, so I’m fine with it (even if I disagree politically).

-The FCC rider doesn’t cut their funding, it just prevents them from implementing certain rules. And what’s this about the Constitution? I don’t think it mentions the internet (you couldn’t have thought that, either).

-EPA rider: The Supreme Court told EPA that CO2 is a pollutant and gave them the right to regulate (or not). You also said we should “cut that funding,” but it doesn’t really exist. All that exists so far is reporting requirements.

Besides, this is a budget bill, some of these riders can be discussed later.

Tim88401 04/08/2011 6:16am
in reply to bingocimo Apr 07, 2011 8:31am

Close the tax loop holes on the multi-nationals, agreed. But even if you taxed the richest 1% at 90 – 100% it wouldn’t help. How much tax is enough?

Cut military spending? How about cutting all aid given to foreign countries? Or even, no welfare to illegals?

luminous 04/09/2011 11:44am
in reply to fakk2 Apr 09, 2011 10:51am

When I talk about bailouts I include the $23 trillion dollars spent by the Fed in 2007, TARP, Use of fannie and freddi to hide market failures(rule changes in this organizations by the Bush administration in 2007 forced them to buy a lot of junk mortgage bonds).

The depth of the crisis is completely misunderstood, It would have dragged out much much longer, Remember the last great depression wasn’t pulled out until the government engaged in the largest spending spree ever engaged in ever(World War 2). Right along with the highest tax rates ever( 96% on highest bracket ).

eano 04/07/2011 1:36pm
in reply to grant3719 Apr 07, 2011 10:21am

We have a budget deficit because the government spends too much money plain and simple.

From the foundation of our country up until the day Obama got elected we overspent 10 trillion dollars which is inexcusable. But Obama’s administration has been the worst of all previous administrations. While it took a little over 200 years to spend us into a 10 trillion dollar deficit, Obama has managed to spend nearly nearly 5 trillion more dollars in deficit spending in just 2 years! Don’t tell me that it is because the rich don’t pay taxes.

And in a day when we face terrorist threats from every border you suggest we should cut our military funding? The government’s job is to protect the American people from foreign threats not to be our nanny.

1. Invest in the military.
2. Cut spending.
3. Create jobs by cutting taxes.
4. Let the free market drive the economy.
That is the formula for getting us out of this crisis.

nmeagent 04/08/2011 1:45pm
in reply to Stubbs Apr 07, 2011 10:36am

If you had read and understood the Constitution at some point in the past you would know that failure to mention something means that the federal government cannot regulate it. The Constitution defines limited powers for a federal government; everything else is left to the states and the people. And yes, before you ask, this does mean that the vast majority of federal government activities are blatantly illegal.

I for one hope the government stays shut down until it obeys its own laws.

eth111 04/08/2011 2:28am
in reply to luminous Apr 07, 2011 9:15pm

What about the 51% of Americans who pay no taxes? The ones who extract more from the system than they put in? Get off of the economic class warfare bandwagon and realize that the only class warfare that truly exists in this country is between the politically connected and the rest of us.

The problem isn’t the tax system, the problem is spending. Read Bastiat’s “The Law” and “Economic Sophisms”, Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom”, and Spencer’s “Social Statics”. All of them point out the fallacious nature of both government redistribution of wealth and empire building. The high minded, well intended programs created over the last century are rife with unintended consequences. When those unintended consequences come to light, the solution is not termination of the original plan, it is another plan with its own issues.

When will the People (I capitalized that on purpose) wake up and realize that the government has spent the last century usurping individual liberty in the name of social justice.

Mahlalie 04/07/2011 8:53pm
in reply to hawkeye4u Apr 07, 2011 8:20pm

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.

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.

eth111 04/09/2011 9:13am
in reply to luminous Apr 09, 2011 8:45am

It is not a misunderstanding, it is seeing the fractional reserve system for what it is. Creating money out of thin air and thereby decreasing the real value of the existing money in the system.

Fractional reserve banking is predicated thoroughly on the bank being allowed to extend more credit than it has cash on hand – that is creating money out of thin air.

A real money system, not based on fiat currency, is the only way to eliminate the death spiral that our current system is in. As for Reagan’s use of the Laffer curve (what you choose to call Voodoo) was at least an honest attempt to spur the economy into creating jobs. The last two administrations (W and O) have done everything in their power to stifle the economy while pretending that they are doing otherwise – that is voodoo….

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.

fakk2 04/08/2011 7:58am
in reply to mochilero Apr 08, 2011 7:47am


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

fakk2 04/08/2011 7:57am
in reply to fishin54 Apr 08, 2011 6:16am


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


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fakk2 04/09/2011 9:10am
in reply to fakk2 Apr 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?

fakk2 04/09/2011 8:24am
in reply to ebritt Apr 09, 2011 1:53am


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.

fakk2 04/09/2011 9:10am
in reply to fakk2 Apr 09, 2011 8:24am

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.

luminous 04/09/2011 11:45am
in reply to luminous Apr 09, 2011 11:44am

I should have listed the FDIC, and the federal pension guarantee corporation as well.

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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