By Robert Romano
Normally, when the Senate passes a piece of legislation, and then the House passes something slightly different, it’s called the legislative process. Now, it’s a crisis.
“Shutdown Fears Rise as House Passes CR That Cannot Pass Senate,” blares one headline. “Shutdown specter rises once more,” warned another. Still another read, “Shutdown Looms as GOP Bends to Will of Tea Party.”
At issue? Just $1.6 billion of spending cuts to the Department of Energy’s lending programs — including those to the bankrupt firm, Solyndra — included in the House bill. The cuts would offset increases in disaster funding.
In principle, such an outcome might result in a conference committee being appointed to hash out differences between the two bills.
But over a measly $1.6 billion less money to a failed lending program for “green” energy, Democrats are instead threatening a government shutdown.
Virginia Democrat Senator Mark Warner blamed “a small group within the House of the tea party crowd” for the impasse. Senior White House advisor David Plouffe said, “We're not going to make progress on the deficit, on things we can do right now for jobs, on tax cuts, unless those 30 or 40 Tea Party members of the Republican House stop being the focal point of our discussion.”
There’s only one problem. When the House failed to pass a continuing resolution on Sept. 21, 48 House Republicans who voted no were demanding there be much, much more in spending cuts, not just a pathetic $1.6 billion. They did not get what they wanted, and on Sept. 23 practically the same exact resolution ultimately passed.
This underscores the true crisis in Washington, D.C., which is that no spending cuts of substance at all can be achieved. Not even miniscule cuts, despite a rapidly escalating national debt of $14.7 trillion projected to rise to $26 trillion by 2021.
At best, the tea party has managed to focus some attention on the perilous debt issue, but thus far has been shut out of making any significant reforms. A little more than $300 million in cuts was found in the previous 2011 continuing resolution, and only $31 billion in cuts out of the 2012 budget in the debt deal.
To put that in perspective, that’s a cut of less than 1 percent out of the $3.7 trillion budget.
Yet we are to believe that somehow, tea party objections are holding up the latest continuing resolution, which actually won’t cut spending at all. After all, the $1.6 billion of cuts in lending programs is an offset.
Since when has the tea party movement advocated not cutting anything at all? What a joke.
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