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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The neutered leadership in the GOP got pwnd by the amateur Barry..


WASHINGTON (AP) - The historic $38 billion in budget cuts resulting from at-times hostile bargaining between Congress and the Obama White House were accomplished in large part by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.

Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs - Pell grants for poor college students, health research and "Race to the Top" aid for public schools, among others - from Republican knives, according to new details of the legislation released Tuesday morning.

And big holes in foreign aid and Environmental Protection Agency accounts were patched in large part. Republicans also gave up politically treacherous cuts to the Agriculture Department's food inspection program.

The details of the agreement reached late Friday night just ahead of a deadline for a partial government shutdown reveal a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially "score" as cuts to pay for spending elsewhere, but often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.

As a result of the legerdemain, Obama was able to reverse many of the cuts passed by House Republicans in February when the chamber approved a bill slashing this year's budget by more than $60 billion. In doing so, the White House protected favorites like the Head Start early learning program, while maintaining the maximum Pell grant of $5,550 and funding for Obama's "Race to the Top" initiative that provides grants to better-performing schools.

Instead, the cuts that actually will make it into law are far tamer, including cuts to earmarks, unspent census money, leftover federal construction funding, and $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can't be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. Another $3.5 billion comes from unused spending authority from a program providing health care to children of lower-income families.

Still, Obama and his Democratic allies accepted $600 million in cuts to a community health centers programs, $414 million in cuts to grants for state and local police departments, and a $1.6 billion reduction in the Environmental Protection Agency budget, almost $1 billion of which would come from grants for clean water and other projects by local governments and Indian tribes.

The National Institutes of Health, which funds critical medical research, would absorb a $260 million cut, less than 1 percent of its budget, instead of the $1.6 billion cut sought by House Republicans. Family planning programs would bear a 5 percent cut rather than being completely eliminated.

Homeland security programs would have to take their first-ever cut, though much of the 2 percent decrease comes from a $786 million cut to first responder grants to state and local governments. The IRS would see its budget frozen but be spared the 5 percent cut sought by House Republicans.

About $10 billion of the cuts already have been enacted as the price for keeping the government open as negotiations progressed; lawmakers tipped their hand regarding another $10 billion or so when the House passed a spending bill last week that ran aground in the Senate.

For instance, the spending measure reaps $350 million by cutting a one-year program enacted in 2009 for dairy farmers then suffering from low milk prices. Another $650 million comes by not repeating a one-time infusion into highway programs passed that same year. And just last Friday, Congress approved Obama's $1 billion request for high-speed rail grants - crediting itself with $1.5 billion in savings relative to last year.

The underlying issue is long overdue legislation to finance the day-to-day budget of every Cabinet department, including the Pentagon, for the already half-completed 2011 fiscal year. The measure caps 2011 funding for such operating budgets at about $1.2 trillion.

About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks, those pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.

Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule - used for years by appropriators - placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.

Even before details of the bill came out, some conservative Republicans were assailing it. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said he probably won't vote for the measure, and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is a "nay" as well.

The $38 billion in cuts, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., wrote on his Facebook page, "barely make a dent" in the country's budget woes.

Huelskamp and other conservatives are also upset that most conservative policy "riders" added by Republicans were dropped from the legislation in the course of the talks.

The White House rejected GOP attempts to block the EPA's ability to issue global warming rules and other reversals of environmental regulations. Obama also forced Republicans to drop an effort to cut off Planned Parenthood from federal funding, as well as GOP moves to stop implementation of Obama's overhauls of health care and Wall Street regulation.

The administration also thwarted a GOP attempt to block new rules governing the Internet, as well as a National Rifle Association-backed attempt to neuter a little-noticed initiative aimed at catching people running guns to Mexican drug lords by having regulators gather information on batch purchases of rifles and shotguns.

Anti-abortion lawmakers did, however, succeed in winning a provision to block taxpayer-funded abortions in the District of Columbia. And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, won funding for a personal initiative to provide federally funded vouchers for District of Columbia students to attend private schools.

Instead of sharply cutting the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, both agencies would get increases under the legislation as they gear up to implement last year's overhaul of financial regulation. And renewable energy programs are cut $407 million below last year, almost 20 percent. The Army Corps of Engineers , which funds flood control and inland waterway projects, will absorb a $578 million cut, representing about 10 percent of its budget.

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I don't think any of us was under the illusion that serious budget cutting was taking place with this bill. Let's face it, these guys are all cowards. Serious budget cutting is going to start a firestorm of complaints from rich and poor alike. These congressmen understand that there is no tomorrow for this debt situation, but they simply can't pull the trigger. I frankly think they are just going to run us over a financial cliff rather than take the heat for the cuts that could save us. Soon it will be too late.

· Banned
31,437 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't think any of us was under the illusion that serious budget cutting was taking place with this bill. Let's face it, these guys are all cowards. Serious budget cutting is going to start a firestorm of complaints from rich and poor alike. These congressmen understand that there is no tomorrow for this debt situation, but they simply can't pull the trigger. I frankly think they are just going to run us over a financial cliff rather than take the heat for the cuts that could save us. Soon it will be too late.
:laughing: Soon? Ya think?

· Banned
31,437 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
:laughing: Our GOP "saviors" are about as useless as tits on a boar hog.

Budget deal axes 'czars' already gone

House Republicans won a symbolic victory by dethroning four White House "czars" under the contentious federal spending agreement rolled out early Tuesday morning, but symbolism may be all they got.

The language in the short-term budget agreement seeks to put four of President Barack Obama's policy czars out of jobs — those appointed to assist the president on health care, climate change, autos and manufacturing, and urban affairs.

Read more:

What's cut (the GOP's nuts) and what's not (The big spending agenda).

House and Senate appropriators revealed details of the 2011 spending-cut deal early Tuesday morning, missing a self-imposed midnight deadline.

In dueling press releases, House Republicans emphasized the magnitude of cuts they won in the six-month spending bill after marathon negotiations, while Senate Democrats emphasized cuts they were able to avoid or diminish.

“Never before has any Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final legislation,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “The near $40 billion reduction in non-defense spending is nearly five times larger than any other cut in history, and is the result of this new Republican majority’s commitment to bring about real change in the way Washington spends the people’s money.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), said in its release that some of the cuts would be “especially painful.” But it said the bill preserves “critical programs” targeted by the original House-passed spending bill, including Head Start, Pell Grants and scientific and medical research programs.

The vote on H.R. 1473 had initially been planned for Wednesday but was pushed back to Thursday in accordance with a new GOP rule that bills be on view for three calendar days before floor action.

In total, the bill sets final 2011 spending levels at $1.049 trillion. This is a $78.5 billion decrease from Obama's 2011 budget request and a $39.9 billion decrease from the $1.089 trillion 2010 spending bills, as enacted.

Republicans had sought a $61 billion cut in spending, but negotiations with the Senate and White House scaled those demands back.

The total cuts, which span nearly the entire federal government, include $12 billion in cuts through three stopgap continuing resolutions and $28 billion in new cuts.

Compared to 2010 levels, there are big cuts to cherished Democratic-backed programs. The Women, Infants and Children nutrition program is cut $504 million, foreign food assistance by $194 million and assistance to state and local law enforcement by $415 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency is cut by $1.6 billion, a 16 percent reduction, and lawmakers from Western states were able to include a rider allowing states to de-list wolves from the endangered species list.

The Homeland Security Department sees significant cuts as well: $226 million is cut from the southern border fence at the suggestion of the Obama administration, and the number of Transportation Security Administration workers is capped. FEMA first-responder grants are cut by $786 million.

Health funding also takes a serious hit. Community healthcare centers lose $600 million while HIV and other disease-prevention funds are cut by $1 billion. But Democrats noted that the health centers would not have to close altogether under a cut of this size.

On the other hand, Democrats were pleased that the Pell Grant award remains at $4,860 and there is a modest increase for Head Start. They also highlight that Race to the Top education awards continue.

The Food and Drug Administration will be able to implement last year's new food-safety bill, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission will be able to implement the Dodd-Frank financial reform under the levels spelled out in the bill, Democrats said.

The Clinton-era COPS program is cut by $296 million. Low-income heating assistance is cut $390 million, while Community Development Funds are cut $942 million.

Contributions to the U.N. and other international institutions are cut $377 million; federal highway investment is cut $650 million.

The largest cut in the bill is from the Commerce Department, but this is something of an accounting trick since it relates to unspent Census money totaling $6.2 billion.

Republicans claim victory in defunding two so-called “ObamaCare” programs: the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (Co-Op) and Free Choice Voucher programs.

Republicans point out that the bill defunds four administration “czars”: The healthcare, climate change, car and urban affairs “czars” are eliminated, though in practice the administration can carry out the same activities by changing the titles of the people involved.

The bill also contains two controversial D.C.-related riders: One prevents the District from using local funds to provide abortion services for low-income women, and another institutes the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, a favored item of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Lobbyists for-profit collegs were unsucessful in backdooring a rider they favored into the bill. The rider would have stopped a Department of Education rule that limits federal student aid to student attending for-profit colleges that do not provide marketable skills.
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