Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Republican Dominated Government: No Gridlock but Hardship for Everyone Except the Wealthy Class

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) fervently spoke out against the Republican 2016 budget resolutions. His disdain is deep for Republicans who believe the deficit is so bad that it’s necessary to make cuts to Social Security, Medicare, nutrition, education, defund the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and give tax breaks to billionaires and corporations. Yet when it comes to war deficits, it doesn’t seem to matter. “How hypocritical can you get?”

Economist Paul Krugman writes, “By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar ‘magic asterisk’ –  a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from.”

So we should expect another hard stance on the budget from both sides of the aisle. As before, the battle over budget priorities may bring threats of a government shutdown, and another continuing resolution to avoid a shutdown that will fund government short-term.

The federal budget is a lengthy process. But we’re almost there now that Congress has each of its budget resolutions in place. House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees will mark up each resolution into separate appropriations bills by mid-week. Expected by week’s end, the House and Senate will reconcile their differences and vote on budget appropriations bills.

Both resolutions, since Republicans control each chamber, are republican-based. As such, although the committees consist of both Democrats and Republicans, each committee represents the same party ratios as those in their respective full chambers. So what will come out of committee will essentially reflect what was in the original resolutions. What comes out of committee is the final bill of appropriations, resubmitted for passage to each chamber, and, when passed, the bill appropriations handed to the President for his signature.

On Friday, however, President Obama said that he would not approve and sign budget appropriations that do not eliminate spending cuts scheduled to become law this fall. Except for defense spending, which the Republican resolutions increase by $90 billion ($39 billion above what the President proposed), all the other cuts are included in their budget resolutions.

Next year we can expect a repeat of this year’s combative budget process. But if in 2016 we elect a Republican President, the process will certainly change for the FY 2018 budget. With a Republican dominated government we may not have gridlock but for everyone except for the wealthy class there will be hardship.

As Paul Krugman concludes his piece, I feel the same way: “Look, I know that it’s hard to keep up the outrage after so many years of fiscal fraudulence. But please try. We’re looking at an enormous, destructive con job, and you should be very, very angry.”

Copyright © 2015 Horatio Green