- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
MILLER: Obama’s Christmas shopping spree
Budget-busting ‘emergency’ spending on the way
House Speaker John A. Boehner wants to use a vote on tax hikes for millionaires to pressure President Obama into putting real spending reductions on the table. Instead of cuts, however, Senate Democrats are quietly preparing to add billions in new outlays to the deal.
Earlier this month, the White House asked Congress to provide $60.4 billion for recovery efforts related to Hurricane Sandy. The administration’s request carefully used all the code words needed to bust through the caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Though the request stated the funding may be “designated as an emergency requirement if it is sudden, urgent, unforeseen, and temporary,” the presidential wish list and the package reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday were chock-full of things that in no way fit the statutory definition of an emergency.
Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma on Monday released a list of wasteful, no-strings-attached outlays meant to cover ordinary expenses, including $336 million for taxpayer-supported Amtrak and $5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers — more than the corps’ annual budget.
The fiscal hawks noted $2 million would go toward “repairing damage to the roofs of museums in Washington, D.C., while many in Hurricane Sandy’s path still have no roof over their own heads.” Another $12.9 billion would go toward future disaster-mitigation activities and studies. Most of this “urgent” money in the bill won’t be spent for two years.
Mr. Obama and his congressional allies hope to sneak these expenditures through a budget-cap loophole allowing unlimited “emergency” spending. “It’s an example of how the emergency designation becomes a Christmas tree,” said Patrick Louis Knudsen, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “Congress and the administration claim savings on one end and then spend it on the other, through the loophole. What’s the point of having spending caps if you are going to blow through them?”
Few in Washington seem to care about balancing the budget anymore, as demonstrated by the outrageous size of this disaster-relief package. “This is way more than necessary, and they should offset it anyway,” Mr. Knudsen said. “We’re running trillion-dollar deficits. If the emergency spending is so important, then find something less important to cut.”
Congress will likely attach the $60 billion slush fund to one of the must-pass packages that will get jammed through the legislative process to avert the fiscal cliff. This plan has advantages for both Mr. Boehner and Mr. Obama. The speaker only has to whip his members to pass one tax-and-spend bill instead of two. The president is getting his whole Santa wish list of shiny new tax hikes, more “stimulus” cash and the so-called emergency spending, all wrapped up with a red bow.
Lawmakers are setting up another “grand bargain” supposedly meant to tackle the $16.4 trillion debt. It’s all for show. Mr. Obama keeps getting the ever-growing government he’s always wanted, while taxpayers are left paying the bills. It’s a raw deal, and Mr. Boehner needs to take a stand for Americans tired of sending more of their income to Washington.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times. She is the author of “Emily Gets Her Gun … But Obama Wants to Take Yours” (Regnery 2013). Miller won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism.
- MILLER: Donald Trump says he’s a Tea Party member
- MILLER: CPAC debates Tea Party or moderate for 2016 Republican presidential candidate
- MILLER: Huge majorities on East Coast support national gun registry
- MILLER: NRA to score Senate vote on Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, Vivec Murthy
- MILLER: New Jersey bill is outright gun ban on .22-caliber rifles and leads to confiscation
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
Get Breaking Alerts
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- 'Blarney Blowout' near UMass results in 73 arrests; 4 officers injured
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- Obama engages in Ukraine diplomacy from Fla. resort as Russia digs in
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time for feckless president to show resolve
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama reserves 'Chicago way' for GOP
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Public education would wither in free market
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Turkey not committed to Cyprus peace
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Spoiled-kid culture creates greedy adults