May 10, 2006

The Wrong Way to Avoid a Spending Veto

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation Policy Blog, Congress may avert a Presidential veto of the War on Terror/Hurricane Relief Supplemental Spending Bill by agreeing to a 13% across-the-board cut in all programs enhanced by the bill (h/t Mark Tapscott via Instapundit).

Is an across-the-board cut a reasonable way to rein in spending in a bill of this kind? Somebody should put that question to General Barry McCaffrey. General McCaffrey recently had this to say about the American effort to rebuild Iraq…

CENTCOM and the U.S. Mission are running out of the most significant leverage we have in Iraq - economic reconstruction dollars. Having spent $18 billion - we now have $1.6 billion of new funding left in the pipeline.
Despite the fact that reconstruction funding for Iraq appears to running low, the (supposed) War on Terror supplemental spending bill cuts back programs under the heading of the “Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund” by a total of $213,000,000. The line-items being cut back have titles like “water resources and sanitation”, “the electric sector”, and “health care” (complete list). A further 13% reduction would lead to a total cut in reconstruction spending of more than $230,000,000.

This funding cut is being enacted in the same bill that appropriates $1,200,000,000 to move a railroad-to-nowhere to benefit casino interests in Mississippi and to compensate a company for Hurricane damage that was covered by private insurance. Wouldn’t it make more sense to completely cut the luxury spending out of the bill rather than cut back on necessary things like Iraqi reconstruction?

These are the funding changes under the heading of the “Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund” specified in the Senate version of the War on Terror/Hurricane Relief supplemental spending bill...

Security and law enforcement -$54,000,000
Justice, public safety infrastructure, and civil society +$389,800,000
The electric sector -$235,000,000
Oil infrastructure +$12,600,000
Water resources and sanitation -$229,900,000
Transportation and telecommunications -$34,500,000
Roads, bridges, and construction -$36,300,000
Health care -$54,000,000
Private sector development -$39,700,000
Education, refugees, human rights, and governance +$68,000,000

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Remember the adage about actions speaking louder than words?

If this is the action being taken, it makes you wonder what the priorities are for this administration and Congress. And let's remember that the Dems are a minority party; the Repubs can pass any bill they want, or stop any bill they want, without a single Dem vote.

So what are the implications, here? What is really important for the Republican Congress?

That said, I aplaud you for bringing up this point. That is moral courage sadly lacking on both sides of the divide. Wrong is wrong, no matter who is doing it. We need to start doing things for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of certain interests.

Which brings us to the latest round of tax cuts....

Posted by: klaus at May 11, 2006 6:41 AM