Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Congressional GOP Acting Like...
The Washington Post reports that finally GOPers on the Hill are putting their foot down and demanding to know how the Katrina spending is going to be paid for. Of course, the contradiction is transparent:
The White House is aware of the growing political problem and has moved on several fronts to pacify Republicans -- with decidedly uneven results. Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, in a speech yesterday, said the White House will be forced to put several plans on the "back burner," including changes to the estate tax and permanently extending first-term tax cuts. "It's taken over the national agenda, and I think it will for a while," he said.Oh, right. That would be the same Tom DeLay who said last week that the federal budget had been pared to the bone and there's no more fat to be cut. This trap is what happens when a party departs from its basic first principles. DeLay's spokesman says: that his boss has "made it very clear that fiscal discipline is an ongoing process -- with an emphasis on 'ongoing.'"
This prompted protests from one of the White House's closest allies, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who said waiting on taxes was unacceptable. But White House officials said Snow was accurately reflecting Bush's intentions.
But the hard fact is that the only thing that has been "ongoing" between the Republican president and the Republican Congress has been spending. This has been the nature of things before Katrina, and it has handcuffed their options now. It has become almost impossible -- even among Republicans -- to get a consensus as to where to start.
The reason why Republicans used to be such spending hawks is that they realized that once a program or project gets passed and funded, it immediately creates a constituency that will fight like hell to keep it. It's far easier to authorize something in the budget than it is to delete -- or even reduce -- it. Trim the transportation bill? Delay the Medicare drug benefit? Both D.O.A., says DeLay.
Of course, there are some who look on the bright side of things:
Amid this friction, top White House officials told Republicans the relief and recovery package could come in much lower than widely quoted projections of $200 billion. Some House GOP leaders also are urging their colleagues to cool off, reminding them that the true cost of the relief effort is not yet known.
Whew! That's good news! We're fortunate that this White House has a record of unerring accounting accuracy on major projects. Numbers of troops in Iraq? Right. Cost of war in Iraq? Check. Estimate of the Medicare prescription drug bill? Yup.
Of course, the relief and recovery package will come in much lower than the quoted projections!!! How could there be any doubt?