Thursday, December 16, 2010

Clock Is Ticking For Passage of Omnibus

The clock is ticking. If the omnibus bill is not passed by the Saturday night deadline, the government will be out of operating money.

This Congress never bothered to pass a fiscal budget. For the first time since the 1970's, this government has been run by continuing resolutions instead of an actual budget. It has been at the hands of Democrats. This gives committee chairmen control of appropriations from year to year and that is not a good thing.

The President has weighed in by asking Congress to get the thing passed and never mind all that unnecessary and extravagant spending tucked into it. Just move along, nothing to see here.

With $8 billion in earmarks included in the omnibus bill, it appears President Obama didn't really get the message he claims he understands from the mid-term elections.

The Obama administration today told Congress to pass an omnibus spending bill containing $8 billion in earmark projects, even though just a few days ago the president said one of the lessons he learned from the 2010 midterm elections was to take more seriously the public’s disapproval of – and his pledge to oppose -- earmarks.

Do not listen so closely to what President Obama says, but watch what he does. Usually they are two separate things.

Now, just as happened last Christmas eve with the last minute wheeling and dealing as the health care reform was rammed through the Senate then signed into law, now we have all the "unexpected" earmarks in this omnibus bill. I find it interesting that the Senators who asked for all these earmarks now feign surprise at the sheer numbers of them in the bill.

Just when he thought he had a deal, grudgingly compromising with Senator McConnell as the negotiator for the Senate Republicans, it is in danger of slipping away. It certainly is getting a lot of unexpected attention. Not only are the tax code extensions up for vote but also estate tax rates. Democrats think that when a person dies and has a bit to leave to family members then that estate must be taxed. It is double, sometimes triple, taxed income but Democrats think it is the government's money in the first place, not a successful business owner's legacy to pass along to his or her survivors. Often the estate holds value in land, like a farm, but not in cash on hand so that farm would have to be sold for the family to pay estate taxes. It is a shameful practice.

President Obama coyly suggests since both Democrats and Republicans are not completely satisfied with the agreement struck, then it must be a good compromise. What he doesn't say is that the administration dropped the ball. Instead of insisting that Congress deal with the tax rate extension and the matters related to the tax code before the sunset occurred, Obama and his team chose to spend the first eighteen months of their administration dealing with health care reform. It was a made-up and bogus crisis to be dealt with and it was deliberate, as Obama rightly assumed it would be his only window to ram it through.

No wonder Congress and Obama have favorable ratings in free fall.

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