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Incompetency at Home

September 11, 2013 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

While everyone’s attention has been justifiably focused on whether or not we will be going to war in Syria, a pair of important fiscal deadlines has been quietly sneaking up on us. On September 30, the continuing resolution (CR) currently funding the government will expire, and by the middle of October, the federal government will once again reach its legal borrowing limit.

Word from the Hill suggests that Republican leaders will offer a short-term CR that funds the government through December 15 at a cost of $988 billion. This resolution would keep most of the sequester intact, but would still increase appropriations by roughly $21 billion relative to the previous CR. Still, it is roughly $70 billion less than President Obama requested. That’s what counts as fiscal discipline these days.

And, in an exceptionally cynical maneuver, the leadership plans to use a parliamentary vehicle to allow House members to take yet another symbolic vote to defund Obamacare. The maneuver, last used in 2011, would have the House vote on two items, the continuing resolution to fund the government and a separate “enrollment correction” that would defund Obamacare. The Senate would have to vote on both items, but if it passes the CR while rejecting the Obamacare addendum, as it almost certainly will, the CR would go on to the president with funding for the health-care law intact. That is exactly what happened in 2011. The Senate rejected the resolution to defund Obamacare, 53–47, and then went on to pass the “clean” CR, 81–19.

The House vote to defund Obamacare would be as meaningless as any of the 40 previous such votes. In fact, it’s worse than that. It’s dishonest — an attempt to fool voters into believing that the House has voted to defund the law, when it really has done no such thing. If congressional Republicans lack the courage to actually do something about Obamacare, they should just go ahead and pass a CR without the subterfuge.

Then again, simply maintaining the sequester can be counted as a victory of sorts. After all, some Republicans, such as Representatives Buck McKeon (Calif.) and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) have reportedly offered to trade support for President Obama’s Syrian intervention for eliminating the sequester cuts to defense. Now that’s a winning formula — more spending and a war.

On the debt ceiling, Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested Tuesday that the House might tie an increase to a one-year …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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