During last year’s campaign, and during the fiscal cliff debacle, President Obama, many Democrats, and some Republicans called for a so-called “balanced approach” to reducing the federal deficit. This was the impetus for the fiscal cliff deal, which increased taxes and funded both unemployment benefits and the farm bill, all while kicking the vast majority of scheduled budget reductions down the road.
Now, going forward, it would seem logical for “balance” to be garnered by reducing spending. After all, the taxes have already gone up on 77% of taxpayers in the last two weeks. Yet Superstorm Sandy relief has many unrelated amendments to it that simply increase spending, amendments that won bipartisan support in the House (though, to be fair, most Republicans opposed both components of the relief legislation). From the Republican Study Committee’s description of bipartisan amendments, we find much spending is entirely unrelated to damage dealt by Sandy.
Unfortunately, even usually solid Tea Party allies are betraying their fiscal principles over Sandy relief. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) expressed outrage at the attempts by his conservative brethren to either offset the spending or reduce the pork in the relief bills:
“We were told the bill was coming up as is,” King said. By Friday, 92 amendments were filed to the bill.
“Obviously, some of them would kill the bill,” King said.
Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) denounced the number of amendments in a Monday statement.
“Instead of simply considering a clean measure, the majority has submitted over 45 amendments to the Rules Committee to cut, hinder or offset the aid found in this package. Never in the modern history of the United States have victims of a natural disaster waited this long — 78 days and counting — to receive federal aid,” she said.
King said he has been told that 15 or more amendments could be ruled in order by the Rules Committee later on Monday.
“That makes it very difficult … this isn’t what we expected,” he said.
Some of the amendments offset the new spending in the bill through cuts to other programs, including by imposing across-the-board cuts to domestic programs. King said that could make the bill toxic in the Senate.
This is the problem in Washington with a “balanced approach.” Despite having raised taxes under the banner of reducing our trillion-dollar deficits, both parties are supporting even more corrupt overspending. Opponents of that imbalance – principled Members of Congress who would probably support Sandy relief if bills only included Sandy relief funding – are decried as extreme and willing to cause harm to their fellow Americans.
The two bills have passed the House and now go to the Senate for debate and likely passage, and then to President Obama’s desk for his signature. Any takers on whether a majority of Senators and/or President Obama will hold to their promise of a “balanced approach?”