Mountain Sun

Mountain Sun

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Who Won the Budget Deal?

Two weeks ago, prior to much of the budget insanity we've been subjected to, Salon's Andrew Leonard wrote a piece titled  How to tell if Obama is losing the budget showdown .   It was subtitled "A quick and dirty scorecard for would-be judges".   I suggest we all need to be judges of what just transpired, because this showdown was not a final act.  It was not "High Noon".  High Noon is still in front of us. There are much more important budget battles to come, and how our leadership performs in these battles is going to impact everything, going forward.  The Tea Party fully understands this.  Just after the deal was cut, Lawrence O'Donnell reported that leading Tea Partiers had already called for a primary against Boehner.  Their pressure on him and their House Reps. will be non-stop.

Photo: André Karwath via Wikimedia Commons 
In spite of Obama's "pragmatic" rhetoric during the battle, budgets are not just about getting the mail delivered and the potholes filled.  They are in fact moral documents that show what the social and political priorities of the nation are.  And because there are such radical and reckless conservative views holding sway on the other side, we had better pay very close attention to how the Democratic side did. This isn't a political beauty-pageant.  This stuff matters.

One thing I like about Leonard's piece (excerpt below) is that it was written prior to much of the latest manueving we've seen, and obviously long before the final decision was reached last night, by which time both sides were busily spinning how each had won the battle.  Leonard posed three tracks along which the budget negotiations might travel [emphasis added]:

So here are three scenarios that could play out in the next two weeks that will allow us to score this fight.
1) The Democrats offer cuts equaling the House Leadership's original proposal, minus social policy riders. Facing a rebellion from hard-line members, House Republicans reject those cuts as insufficient and force a government shutdown.
Score: Big win for Democrats. Public perceives them as willing to compromise, while judging Republicans too extreme. This, in turn, dramatically affects ensuing fight over raising the debt ceiling, as well as negotiations on the 2012 budget and entitlements. 
2) The Democrats offer cuts equaling the House Leadership's original proposal, minus social policy riders. House accepts.
Score: Win for Republicans. Speaker of the House John Boehner plays his hand perfectly, gets bigger cuts than the conventional wisdom expected originally, avoids blame for government shutdown, strengthens position for follow-up. 
3) The Democrats offer cuts equaling, or exceeding, the House leadership's original proposal, plus some social policy riders. House accepts.
Score: Huge win for Republicans.  

Boehner indeed got vastly more in budget cuts than he originally asked for.  His original target was 30 billion in cuts.  He beat that by roughly one third.  The Democrats surrendered the money in (to use their term) "historic" fashion.

But what about the policy riders?  How many of them were included in deal last night? Below is an incomplete listing of the riders embedded within  HR.1, from OMB Watch, including brief description and location within the budget bill:

  • Prohibits funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program. Sec. 1285
  • Restricts the ability of the FDA to transfer funds. Sec. 1268
  • Prohibits the Federal Reserve from transferring more than $80 million to the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Sec. 1517
  • Prohibits funds for a government sponsored “consumer products complaints database.” Sec. 4046
  • Prohibits agencies from obligating funds in contravention of parts of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996. Sec. 1115
  • Prohibits funds to take any action to effect or implement the disestablishment, closure or realignment of the US Joint Forces Command. Sec. 4020
  • Prohibits funds made available to the Department of Defense for official representation purposes. Sec. 4031
  • Bans funding for the Department of Education regulations on Gainful Employment, as-yetunpublished rules that would restrict federal student aid to for-profit colleges whose students have high debt-to-income ratios and require the schools to report more information about student outcomes. Sec. 4012
  • Prohibits funds for implementing a provision specific to the State of Texas in the “Education Job Fund.” Sec. 4051
  • Prohibits funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program. Sec. 1281
  • Prohibits funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program. Sec. 1282
  • Prohibits funding for the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act. Sec. 1283
  • Prohibits funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program or the State Energy Program. Sec. 1434
  • Prohibits funding for various environmental projects in California. Sec. 1475
  • Prohibits funding for a climate change czar in the White House. Sec. 1535
  • Prohibits funding for EPA efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. Sec. 1746
  • Prohibits funding for the EPA to change a rule regulating water. Sec. 1747
  • Prohibits funding for enforcing an order by the Secretary of the Interior calling for protecting public natural spaces. Sec. 1778
  • Puts a moratorium, for the duration of the CR, on the payment of legal fees to citizens and groups who sue the government. Sec. 4007
  • Prohibits funds to implement, administer or enforce the rule entitled “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants From the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry and Standards of Performance for Portland Cement Plants,” published by the Environmental Protection Agency on September 9, 2010, which limits the levels of mercury in cement. Sec. 4008
  • Prohibits funds to the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board to consider, review, reject remand or other invalidate any permit issued for Outer Continental Shelf sources located offshore of the States along the Arctic Coast. Sec. 4014
  • Defines specifically what greenhouse gases are and prohibits the EPA from imposing regulations on those gasses emitted by a stationary source for seven months. Sec. 4015
  • Prohibits funds to implement the Klamath (California) Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study,  conducted by the US Bureau of Reclamation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Sec. 4028
  • Prohibits funds to implement or enforce the Travel Management Rule, which would close roads and trails on National Forest System land. Sec. 4029
  • Prohibits funds for the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) from moving forward with a proposed rule that would effectively eliminate the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, a rule that presently allows surface mining operations with qualified permits to work within 100 feet of a stream. Sec. 4032
  • Prohibit EPA funding for enforcement of total maximum daily loads in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Sec. 4033
  • Prohibits funds for the EPA to impose and enforce federally mandated numeric Florida water quality standards. Sec. 4035
  • Prohibits funds from being used to construct ethanol blender pumps or ethanol storage facilities. Sec. 4037
  • Prohibits funds to implement a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Service, part of the President’s fiscal year 2012 budget request. Sec. 4038
  • Prohibits the EPA, Corps of Engineers and the Office of Surface Mining from implementing coordination procedures that have served to extend and delay the review of coal mining permits. Sec. 4039
  • Prohibits funds from being used to develop or approve a new limited access privilege program – “catch-shares” – for any fishery under the jurisdiction of the South Atlantic, Mid-Atlantic, New England or Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Sec. 4040
  • Prohibits funds for the study of the Missouri River projects. Sec. 4041
  • Prohibits funds for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sec. 4042
  • Blocks funds for the EPA to implement a waiver to increase the ethanol content in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent. Sec. 4043
  • Prohibits funds for the EPA to deny proposed and active mining permits under Section 404 (c) of  the Clean Water Act, specifically to revoke retroactively a permit for the Spruce Mine in West Virginia. Sec. 4044
  • Prohibits funds for the EPA to implement regulations to designate coal ash reside as hazardous waste. Sec. 4045
  • Prohibits funds for EPA to modify the national primary ambient air quality standards applicable to coarse particulate matter (dust). Sec. 4048
  • Restricts funds from being used for the Presidential Election Campaign Fund or political party conventions. Sec. 4004
  • Prohibits funding for the IRS to implement health care reform. Sec. 1516
  • Prohibits funds for a White House Director of Health Care reform. Sec. 1536
  • Prohibits the District of Columbia from using its own, non-federal funds to pay for abortions beyond the very limited circumstances in which federal funds are currently available (in circumstances of rape or incest and to save the life of a pregnant woman). Sec. 1590
  • Prohibits the District of Columbia from using federal funds for syringe exchange programs. Sec. 1591
  • Prohibits funding for sections of the Public Health Service Act. Sec. 1820
  • Prohibits states from using federal funds for syringe exchange programs.  Sec. 1847
  • Prohibits funds to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., or any of its affiliates. Sec. 4013
  • Prohibits funds to pay any employee, officer or contractor to implement the provisions of the health care reform law, stopping the Department of Health and Human Services from Sec. 4016
  • Strips funding for any provision of the health care reform law. Sec. 4017
  • Prohibits the payment of salaries for any officer or employee of any federal department or agency with respect to carrying out the health care reform law. Sec. 4018
  • Bars funds to implement the individual mandate and penalties and reporting requirements of the health care reform law. Sec. 4019
  • Prohibits funds to carry out the medical loss ratio restrictions in the health care reform law. These provisions require insurers to spend at least a certain percent of their premium revenues on medical care. Sec. 4027
  • Blocks funds for Health Insurance Exchanges, a set of state-regulated health care plans offered under the health care reform law. Sec. 4034
  • Prohibits funds for employee and officer salaries at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services, created by the health care reform law. Sec. 4047
  • Prohibits funds for salaries for any officer or employee of the government to issue regulations on essential benefits under section 1302 of the health care reform law. Sec. 4049
  • Prohibits funds for the independent payment advisory board. Sec. 4050
  • Prohibits transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Sec. 1112
  • Prohibits transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay. Sec. 1113
  • Prohibits constructing facilities to house detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Sec. 1114
  • Prohibits funding for hiring new TSA employees. Sec. 1614
  • Prohibits funding for immigrant integration programs. Sec. 1635
  • Prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from collecting information on multiple sales of rifles or shotguns to the same person. Sec. 4030
  • Prohibits funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative. Sec. 2226
  • Prohibits funding for capital advances or rental assistance contracts for HUD Housing for the Elderly projects. Sec. 2237
  • Prohibits funding for renewing tenant-based assistance contracts. Sec. 2238
  • Prohibits funds for the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, State and Local Programs to provide grants under the Urban Area Security Initiative. Sec. 4002
  • Prohibits funding for the US Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation, UN Population Fund, or for foreign NGOs that use their own non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services. Sec. 2122
  • Places various restrictions on Afghanistan funding. Sec. 2124
  • Prohibits U.S. military assistance to Chad, due to its continued use of child conscription, consistent with the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2007. Sec. 4011
  • Prohibits funds for the Overseas Comparability Pay Adjustment, an increase in pay for overseas Foreign Service Officers approved by President Obama under the supplemental appropriations Sec. 4021
  • Bans foreign aid to Saudi Arabia. Sec. 4023
  • Prohibits funds for UN construction within the US. Sec. 4036
  • Blocks funds for the Federal Communications Commission to institute Net Neutrality rules. Sec. 4006
  • Prohibits funds for the Community Connect broadband grant program administered by the Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture. Sec. 4022
  • Prohibits funding for competitions for new Job Corps centers. Sec. 1802
  • Prohibits funding for  upgrading Congressional committee rooms. Sec. 1904
  • Prohibits funding for carrying out section 19 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. Sec. 1284
  • Prohibits Recovery Act funding for Department of Energy employees employed through the Recovery Act. Sec. 1474
  • Rescinds unobligated Recovery Act funds. Sec. 3001
  • Prohibits Recovery Act funds for signage. Sec. 3002
  • Prohibits NASA from collaborating with China. Sec.  1339
  • Prohibits Export-Import Bank funding for anyone subject to sanctions under the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996. Sec. 2123
  • Prohibits funds to provide nonrecourse marketing assistance loans to mohair farmers. Sec. 4026
  • Prohibits funds to pay the salaries and expenses of the following “czars,” or special presidential advisers who are not required to go through the Senate confirmation process: Obama Care Czar, Climate Change Czar, Global Warming Czar, Green Jobs Czar, Car Czar, Guantanamo Bay Closure Czar, Pay Czar and Fairness Doctrine Czar. Sec. 4009

Again, OMB-Watch reminds us that this is an incomplete listing.  The vast majority of coverage has been on the dollars and a very few of the policy riders.  But as can be seen above, there are a huge number of riders attached to the original bill.  Which of the above were stripped out in negotiations?  Which are still there?  How much damage can they do, in addition to the severe cuts represented by the budget deal?  

As Leonard called it two weeks ago--Huge win for the GOP, and especially for their most radical members on the Right.  Huge loss for everyone else.


NYT has reporting in tomorrow's edition that shows at least 40 riders made it as far as last night's considerations:
Mr. Obama asked that they go through the riders one by one. A White House aide, Rob Nabors, dashed out of the Oval Office with a stack of 40 riders, and headed to a Xerox machine to print them out, “while the rest of us sat around waiting for the copies,” a senior White House official said. Mr. Boehner even joked at one point, chiding Mr. Obama about how he might want to find faster copier machines, prompting the president to mime cranking out a mimeograph.
Apparently one of them was a measure to take Montana and Idaho wolves off the Endangered Species List.  Authored by Senate Democrat John Tester.

1 comment:

  1. Sad to see Senator Tester carrying water for the anti-environmental right, not to mention both (1) the precarious condition of wolf recovery and (2) the precedent it sets for legislative end runs on other ESA listings. That said, Tester faces a difficult re-election battle against arch-conservative, evil idiot Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT). The wolf rider will certainly give Tester an edge in the election.