Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Obama on the Run - Dispatches Biden to Negotiate

The temporary spending measure pushed through was passed by the Senate on a 91-9 vote today, included $4 billion in spending cuts, one week after Harry Reid had rejected such a plan. Meanwhile, the President is appearing to concede that his weak budget plan to merely freeze spending is going nowhere.

Largely a spectator so far, President Barack Obama dispatched his vice president to initiate negotiations on a broader, longer-term spending bill and find "common ground" with GOP leaders determined to cut tens of billions of dollars more and undo much of his agenda. He conceded in advance that any deal on a government budget covering the next seven months will feature cuts . . . The upcoming talks, to be led by Vice President Joe Biden, promise to be far more difficult.
Meanwhile, earmarks have all but disappeared from the budget debate. This is a major victory for John Boehner and Tom Coburn, in my opinion. I wasn't previously aware that Boehner had made battling earmarks a cornerstone of his career. The absence of earmarks is making it easier to agree on spending cuts according to the linked article. Hooray! Here's why:

Top members of the Appropriations Committee might, for instance, grant a lawmaker’s request for a few million dollars for an important project back home. That lawmaker would then be obligated to support the entire multibillion-dollar bill despite possible reservations. Woe to the person who gets an earmark and then opposes the bill; chances for a future earmark would be somewhere between zero and none.

“You get millions for an earmark and end up voting for billions of dollars that you may oppose,” said Steve Ellis, a vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a government watchdog group.

No wonder Coburn called earmarks the "gateway drug" to run away spending.

1 comment:

  1. If Biden is sent to negotiate, doesn't Barack remain a spectator? What's changed? If Biden comes back with a deal he doesn't like, he can just turn it down. Barack is still at arms length from the thing, just like he always is.