The President’s 2012 budget will be delayed a week, as new OMB Director Jack Lew struggles to put things together after being confirmed late. But the still-looming fight over the 2011 budget will begin right after the State of the Union address, with Republicans in the House likely to hold out for major spending cuts.
Fights over healthcare, spending and the national debt could result in grand bargains like the tax-cut deal Obama struck with Republicans, or they could lead to a government shutdown, as when President Clinton went toe to toe with the GOP in 1995.
Emerging fights over environmental and Internet regulation also loom, as do scuffles over troop levels in Afghanistan, national security policies and GOP-led investigations of the Obama administration.
The Hill listicles the top five fights, but really the first three are all the same: health care repeal (or more to the point, defunding), the debt limit, and the spending plan. While all of these may become separate hostage-taking events, they all will occasion the same demands from House Republicans. So far, they’ve all parroted a desire to reduce spending to 2008 levels without touching defense or entitlements, which would mean a cut of up to 20% in those other discretionary areas.
Working under a continuing resolution, federal agencies have had to shutter many programs where money isn’t available, and shuffle priorities with limited funds. Because of increased demand and costs, a continuing resolution amounts to a budget cutback, especially in agencies like the FDA, Health and Human Services or the SEC, which have seen new mandates in big bills passed by Congress, without the funding increases to back them up.
Meanwhile, federal agencies are prohibited from funding some grant programs before a full-year budget is approved.
“This ended up being the worst of all worlds for us,” said Steve Taylor, vice president of public policy at United Way Worldwide, which administers a federally funded grant program for food pantries and shelters. The program’s 2011 allocation has been put on hold.
“People who are in desperate need of shelter and food assistance are not going to get it because of the way this is done,” he said.
Just get used to this. For incoming House Republicans, it’s essentially their blueprint for the future.
(Pennsylvania Republican Mike) Kelly ran for office to fix America’s finances. He says he wants to run the government the way he runs his dealership: “Kill more than you eat – and when you don’t, eat less.”
“I couldn’t go out and borrow money, and I sure as heck couldn’t print it,” Kelly said. Balancing the budget, he added, is “simple math. . . . What’s it going to take to fix it? People who are there for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to fix it.”
I do not like the odds of success in getting out of the next two years without a safety net blown clear through with holes.