- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
- Tea Party Patriots call key GOP firing a declaration of war
Storm relief sets up new spending without cuts
Question of the Day
President Obama’s call for $60 billion in additional spending to cover damage from Superstorm Sandy tops a congressional wish list of more stimulus spending, expanded unemployment benefits and extending the payroll tax cut — all without finding cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.
The new spending, totaling as much as $250 billion, and the lack of what lawmakers call “offsets” threaten to complicate the already difficult “fiscal cliff” conversations going on in Washington, where the push is on to lower deficits over the long run.
“The American people are expecting that the cliff negotiations to be focused on reducing the deficit, not increasing spending,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, who has called for any form of new spending to be balanced by savings or reductions elsewhere in the federal budget.
Members of both parties, though, are shying away from demanding that the huge, unexpected cost of the recovery package for New York and the other states battered by Superstorm Sandy not be lumped in with the federal deficit. Lawmakers and officials from the region are pressing hard for the money now.
The office of House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, did not return a message seeking comment on whether he would require a dollar-for-dollar offset for the extra spending.
Democrats, meanwhile, generally say that Sandy’s costs and other additional spending should be tacked onto the federal deficit. They say that is how past national emergencies have been financed and that programs such as extended unemployment benefits provide a great bang for the buck for an economy still struggling to gain altitude.
The new spending proposals coincide with a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that the nation has rung up a nearly $300 billion deficit in the first two months of the fiscal year, which started Oct. 1 — putting more pressure on lawmakers to get the nation’s fiscal house in order as the year-end deadline to deal with the fiscal cliff comes ever nearer.
Still, Mr. Obama rolled out the Superstorm Sandy package late last week, and the administration said the tens of billions of dollars in “emergency funding can and should be provided without an offset.”
Kevin Hassett, of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, warned that the longer lawmakers rely on deficit spending, the bigger the nation’s fiscal problems will get.
“Democrats would clearly trap us in a cycle of dependency on Keynesian stimulus,” Mr. Hassett said. “That cycle leads to financial ruin, and the sooner we start seriously pursuing real fixes, the better our chances of turning this economy around.”
Democrats say that Congress should not get mired in findings offsetting spending cuts, citing the precedents of such big-ticket items such as the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The buy-now-pay-later approach — with interest — has been on full display on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, introduced a bill last Wednesday to extend Mr. Obama’s 2 percent payroll tax “holiday” another year without offering any way to pay for what amounts to upward of $110 billion in spending.
The following day, Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island Democrat, told reporters in the Senate Press Gallery that Congress should stretch emergency unemployment benefits, scheduled to expire, through 2013, but lawmakers don’t have to cover the estimated $30 billion price tag with additional savings or spending reductions.
“Traditionally, until very recently, these extensions of unemployment benefits have been done without an offset,” Mr. Reed said. “I think we’d get a bigger bang for the buck in terms of job creation by doing it without an offset.”
Moments later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid marched into the same room and delivered what sounded like the exact opposite message. Tax rates, Mr. Reid said, should be raised for the nation’s top earners because Congress must come up with new revenue streams to support its spending.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- IRS nominee gets GOP support
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Club for Growth: Budget deal could hurt GOP incumbents on Election Day
- Obama's IRS nominee John Koskinen vows to restore public trust in agency
- Senate confirms Obama judge following filibuster rule change
Latest Blog Entries
- Tea Party Patriots: Congress will break promise of future deficit reduction
- Speaker John Boehner escalates clash with conservative critics of budget deal
- Sen. Lamar Alexander's chief of staff involved in child pornography probe
- Rand Paul: Budget deal 'shameful,' 'huge mistake'
- Sen. Bill Nelson downplays handshake between Obama, Castro
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- Jane Fonda Foundation fails to make single contribution in 5 years: report
- White House improvises again on patchy Obamacare rollout
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
- GOP Rep. Tim Murphy rolls out mental health legislation
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
An informed and often humorous take on the world of advertising, public relations and social media. 100% Pure. Not from concentrate.
Does it take over 25 years in public service to really know what goes on in Washington?
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow