Friday, January 17, 2014

Budget Politics

It's probably the biggest debate that we have annually in Washington. How much money should we spend? Which programs are worthy of funding, and which aren't? There have been decades worth of fighting over earmarks/pork-barrel spending/pet projects/campaign promises and we by and large have gotten through these debates over and over again.

In recent years, however, the debate over money in Washington has changed. It's no longer a question of what to fund, but whether we should be funding anything. Last year, this debate reached the point of government shut down on principle. That's a bit insane, as many people pointed out at the time.

But the insanity hasn't ended there. Despite Republicans pushing for a rider last year that required there to be a budget in order for Congress to get paid, those same Republicans are now mulling the idea of not passing a budget this year at all. That's because the no-pay rider had only a one-year limit, meaning it no longer applies.

The reason, as far as anyone can tell, is that Republicans don't want to force a vote on a federal budget during an election year, since they know they're going to have to pander to their rabid base of limited government, anti-tax, anti-spending Tea Partiers. In other words, Republicans are playing politics in Washington all over again, and may well leave the government unfunded to help secure their re-election.

Of course, Republicans aren't doing anything completely different. After all, they've spent years doing things that make no sense, all in the name of cozying up to their base.

Instead of choosing to forget about passing a budget or going after agencies that protect American workers from abuses, why don't they do something that appeals to the broad spectrum of American society? Why not get the word out about the President's proposed trade bill? It would be a disaster for America, and yet Republicans have been largely silent about. Not only that, but even the CEOs that would benefit from it are feigning ignorance about its contents. Some of the language in the TPP, like giving companies the ability to ignore the laws in foreign countries, could be disastrous for the world, let alone for America. Why not take a stand against that?

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