The Continuing Resolution – A Continuing Problem for Republicans

Will House Republicans Stand Firm?

During the last days of the lame duck session of Congress in 2010, the House and Senate passed a compromise Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government on a temporary basis. The CR was necessary because Senate and House Democrats shirked their responsibility to pass a budget, and so were forced into submitting a CR to keep the government running. The CR was limited to run until March 4, at which time a new CR or other funding mechanism was needed to keep the government running.

One would think that at the start of the new Congress in 2011, both the House and Senate would have been busy attempting to develop a responsible funding package to keep the government running for the remainder of the fiscal year past the March 4 deadline. The Republican controlled House, after some initial stumbles, has diligently worked to pass a new CR that reduces government spending by approximately $60 Billion for the remainder of the year. The Democrat controlled Senate has done absolutely nothing about this problem, preferring to spend most of their time on recess (vacation) and the remainder of their time debating a new aviation bill. After the Republicans spent a final week working a number of almost all night sessions on the CR, they completed their work last week and sent the CR bill to the Senate. Incredibly, the Senate promptly took another week of vacation and has done nothing to date on this looming budget deadline.

Now, we hear that Harry Reid and his band of Democrats want to extend the current CR for another month beyond March 4 with no changes to its massive spending schedule. They say there is now not enough time to negotiate a fair CR with the House. Of course there isn’t any time – they have wasted most of their time this past week on vacation instead of remaining at work and negotiating!

What we are hearing from John Boeher is an immediate agreement that there should be a short-term extension of the current CR. Republicans are willing to split the difference and offer a two week extension and added a statement about cutting $4 billion out of the extended amount. It’s too bad Republicans are so willing to negotiate away many of the cards that they hold.

The Budget Numbers That Must be Understood

The current spending plan for fiscal year 2010 was in the neighborhood of $3.5 Trillion with an expected deficit of $1.3 Trillion. The actual deficit will be more like $1.5 Trillion. Let’s see how these numbers relate to the paltry budget cuts proposed by the Republicans and the effect of Boehner’s compromises:

  • Total Federal Gov’t Spending for 2010 - $3.5 Trillion 
  • Total Federal Gov’t Deficit for 2010 - $1.5 Trillion 
  • 2010 Deficit as a % of Total Spending - 42.9% 
  • Daily Federal Gov’t Deficit for 2010 - $4.11 Billion per day

Now let’s look at the Republican Plan in somewhat more detail:

  • Republican’s CR Cut for the Remainder of the Year - $60 Billion 
  • Number of Day’s Remaining for the new CR (March 4 to Sept 30) -210 
  • Deficit Reduction per Day in the Republican Plan - $285 Million 
  • Deficit Reduction per Day in the 2 week Extended CR Proposal  -$285 Million 
  • Total Federal Gov’t Spending per Day with the Current CR - $9.589 Billion 
  • Total Federal Gov’t Spending per Day with the Republican CR -$9.303 Billion 
  • % of Overall Deficit Reduction in Republican Plan from current CR - 6.9%

So, two points can be made from the above numbers:

  • The Republican plan for the new CR contains a very small reduction amounting to only 6.9% of the overall government deficit. 
  • The Boehner compromise for the two week extension is a fair offer based on the Republican plan for the new CR.

The Effect of A Government Shutdown

The reports that I am hearing is that the Republicans are terrified of a government shutdown as a result of their House passed CR bill. They believe that the American people cannot live with a government shutdown and will blame them. To me, it is extremely unwise for the Republican leadership to be telegraphing this level of weakness. All it does is play into the hands of the Democrats and their stooges in the liberal media.

The fact is that all of this talk of a government shutdown is scare talk ginned up by the Democrats and the liberal media. In fact, a government shutdown will not have that much of an effect on most people’s lives. Here is what will not be affected by a government shutdown:

  • Social Security recipients will continue to get their benefits. 
  • Federal Courts will continue to function normally 
  • The national security apparatus will continue to function normally 
  • All law enforcement deemed necessary will continue to operate 
  • Most government employees will continue to report for work

The fact is that the president can determine which government services are critical and those services will continue to be available. Certainly, a government shutdown will inconvenience some citizens, such as the inability to obtain a passport or to apply for Social Security benefits. But a government shutdown will not be the Armageddon that will be described in the liberal media and by left wing politicians and pundits.

Republicans Must Stand Firm

I hope and expect that John Boehner and the Republican Leadership team in the House stands firm on the short-term extension. It will be extremely disappointing if the House Republicans cave in to Harry Reid and his Senate Democrats. These Republicans should understand that they hold all the cards and are in a terrific negotiating position. I hope Republicans do not give away their negotiating points in public and stop saying they don’t want a government shutdown. Republicans should focus on explaining the budget numbers to the American People and emphasizing the dire consequences to the United States if they do not hold firm.

House Republicans will have a major problem in 2012 if they screw up this negotiation. They need to stand firm and accept a government shutdown if that is what it takes to get their budget cuts into the new CR. I expect that if they do stand firm, that Obama will back down, as recent events in the Middle East have shown what a spineless leader he has really turned out to be.

Comments

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Thanks for the post. If you were right, I would wholeheartedly agree. Just a few quick facts ... Please repost your opinion based on these small details. First, the Constitution doesn't allow the Senate ti bring forward spending and revenue-creating bills. This is one of the few details where there us a difference between the House and the Senate. Thus, the lack of creating a spending bill means that the Senate acted according to the rules. Please check in the Constitution, it's pretty easy to find on the web. it's a document that governs how the government works. Second, 61 billion out of the fiscal year is indeed not all that much. We could save that money obviously with little pain. Unfortunately, 84% of the budget is not discretionary, leaving only 16% where cuts have been made. The military increased by 2%, so that leaves 14% where cuts come from. If we cut the few percent you mentioned above from that, then ... Oh my, now I understand! In all fairness this is really like slashing 30% from all spending that is discretionary. Things like education, science, transportation, energy. I guess at this point things become clear: the House felt good slaying spending, but they didn't do this deliberately. Cutting for example the National Laboratories by 30% or so, which is part of HR1 as passed, amounts to capitulation in a war on the poor economy. Is it a good idea to fire 30% of your officers in time of war, or decide that the kids don't need ti go to college? HR1, as passed by the House, is an admission by the House that we have lost the economic recovery and don't want to proudly lead the world in science an technology any longer. The Republicans are ok with having China take the lead for a few decades, and that will surely create enough business to have sone low wage jobs in the US. So, do you still stand by your arguments, or wouldn't you agree the we have collectively lost our mind by passing HR1. Since when is the US a country to give up a global leadership role? HR1 is an excellent example of common sense running amok.

Indeed the Senate may not start such bills.  What they do instead is take some bill passed by the House of Representatives, strip everything out, and by Amendments, make it into the bill they want to propose.  Both Parties do this, and if you were paying attention when ObamaCare got passed, this very trick was very much in play.

ObamaCare can be killed this way.  Department of Defense cuts should happen, but may not -- it is NOT a golden child that cannot be touched by this budget as you seem to think. Your laundry list of things that *will* be cut is a role call for bleeding heart issues.  Most of them could be done *better* by the private sector and charities.  Sorry to say this, but most of America realizes this and is willing to cut to the bone and is not carring about all the programs designed to help a few at the expense of the many.  And most of the programs like Planned Parenthood is just such spending that they will try and cut.

First, I never suggested that the Senate bring forward a spending and revenue creating bill. I did suggest that the Senate has spent a great deal of time this year on vacation, and the least they could have done was to immediately start working on the House passed HR1 Continuing Resolution, after it was sent over to the Senate. Second, I do not accept the argument that the only cuts that can be made are to government so-called discretionary spending. There is plenty to look at with government spending on defense, and huge amounts of waste and fraud with Medicare and Social Security. How about finding out just what percentage of Medicare and Social Security payments are going to illegal aliens, for example. How about having a commission audit Department of Defense procurement policies?

Third, much of what government spends within discretionary spending could and should be done by the private sector. I know it’s a sacrilege to liberals to suggest that the National Institutes of Health are an agency that we could do without, letting private money fund most of these studies. It’s also a sacrilege to suggest the elimination or substantial reduction of the FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), National Public Radio and Television, US Commission for the Arts and other untouchable organizations. When the country is technically bankrupt it’s time to look at these and many other agencies.

As for China, they will take the lead regardless of what so called "investments" we make in this country. For starters, their educational system is not plagued with teacher unions whose main goal is keeping all teachers employed for as long as possible regardless of their competency or teaching skills. China may well be a Communist dictatorship in name, but they have strong beliefs in employing free market capitalist ideas which have served them well to date. If the USA doesn't get rid of the massive numbers of business regulations (both State and Federal) China will rapidly pass us as the leading economic power in the world.

I did make one error in my article. I inadvertently stated in one place that the national deficit was $3.5 Trillion. I apologize, it’s only $1.5 Trillion (only?).

Thanks for the detailed reponse. Interestingly, there is a lot of common ground here where we can agree. For example, the question why something as important as the budget is decided upon in such a hurry and at the very last minute, again and again. Running on continuing resolutions again and again. Not taking into account the big spending items. With regards to what parts of government function should be privatized, I feel that we have to be way more careful. Mostly because privatization leads to much less oversight and control. For example, running prisons commercially seems to be one of these dangerous things that just invites major abuse. Same with our tendency to have private companies do everything the military used to do and effectively being 50% of what you may want to define as being historically "the military". Well, I am a bit off the subject here, but yes, I feel that we need to reconsider the expense of our military very carefully. I think my main concern though is the idea that China is growing into a successful capitalist economy. Given the human rights situation in China and the level of corruption, the US would be I'll advised to use China as a template for success. I would rather like to point out the economic power and success of countries like Germany that are able to run a business friendly policy AND provide for a well educated and reasonably wealthy middle class. This is anything but socialism, interestingly. And Germany is long out of the recession because of their export oriented economy that builds on excellence in science and engineering. Anyway, I really liked your reponse. Obviously, the House should had deliberated this issue more carefully, and discussions such as this one are encouraging.
 

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