It’s the beginning of the system that makes a Gordian Knot look like a simple tavern puzzle. The United States Federal Government Budget Process is underway. This week, Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate agreed to a budget – the first time this has happened regardless of who controlled either body in five years.
The Washington Post calls the budget a political document, breaking “down how Republicans would govern in their version of an ideal world.” It is the reconciliation of different master plans each of the legislative houses developed.
Features of the budget deal include:
- Ending the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) outright.
- Adding $563 billion to defense spending via the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which is not part of the overall budget.
- Deep domestic spending cuts to programs like Pell Grants, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (food stamps), and low-income housing.
- $496 billion decrease in non-defense spending over ten years.
- Balancing the Federal Government budget in ten years.
Conservative hardliners will undoubtedly call the $5 trillion cuts in spending over a decade not nearly enough.
In the meantime, there are still a number of hurdles to overcome before the budget goes to Obama’s desk. This first passing was thanks to a procedural “maneuver” that lawmakers put into the process so that they didn’t have to go to the floor of the Senate for an up or down vote. The House votes on the deal on Friday.
Then comes the hard part: reconciliation. In order to get any Democrats on board to pass the budget, compromises are going to have to be made. And that is going to make a lot of people on the political right very unhappy. Just what the Republicans are willing to give up to get Obama to sign the budget has not been made clear at this point.
What is clear is that there are still accounting “gimmicks” in the budget. This is enough of a problem for Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee that he held up the agreement for two days. The bone of contention was “Changes in Mandatory Spending” or CHIMPS.
“CHIMPS is a budget gimmick that is $190 billion in extra spending over a 10-year period, and it’s something our caucus all has been for eliminating … so I have concerns about that,” Corker told a gaggle of reporters Tuesday. “What I’d like for our budgeting process to do is to rid itself of a lot of the gimmicks it has used in the past to actually spend a lot more money than people think we’re spending.”
Corker and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) had both pushed to use the budget to restrict and phase out the use of the changes in mandatory program spending….
The only thing that is certain is that the budget is important to leadership, and getting something signed by the president is the primary goal. What they will have to give away to get that since Democrats are already balking, is the big worry.