Saturday, February 26, 2011

GOP Tactics Are Causing Uncertainty for Crucial Programs

Imagine you’re looking to invest in a certain field and you have two options. You can go with company A, which can do some long term planning because it has a relatively steady stream of investment and isn’t always worried about where its next source of revenue will be coming from. Or you can go with company B, which can’t do much planning because it doesn’t know how much longer its funding is going to stay at the current levels (or, for that matter, if there will even be funding in a few weeks). The smart investor would probably put his/her money into company A. Based upon the way the GOP has been proposing such extreme cuts without considering their consequences, however, it looks like they want you to invest your tax dollars in company B.

I say this because the reason the government has been operating on a continuing resolution instead of an actual budget for FY 2011 is because the two sides weren’t able to agree on an actual budget. Come March 4, the government might not even have a continuing resolution to operate with. In other words, the worst possible outcome of investing in company B will have come true – its uncertain funding ran out and the company therefore had to shutdown.

Now the American taxpayers have reason to be worried because the House Republicans have put forward a resolution that would make drastic cuts to crucial programs just so they can keep giving tax breaks to the extremely wealthy and repeal health care reforms that would help the working class. We’re already beginning to see the consequences of the GOP’s unwillingness to back down from these proposals as they are now suggesting a two week spending resolution to keep the government in business. While this extension would prevent the American people from getting completely screwed over for investing their tax dollars in company b, it still leaves a lot of uncertainty in future funding levels.

The uncertainty of short term funding plans has already repeatedly been explained to the Republicans. During a hearing that I attended last week, for instance, both the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff informed members of the Armed Services Committee that operating under a continuing resolution has hampered their long term planning efforts and, to some degree, our troop readiness. Fortunately, the Democratic leadership realizes this is unacceptable and is trying to work with the GOP to create a long term continuing resolution and agree on an FY 2012 budget. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip in the House of Representatives, released the following statement about how we need to move forward on the budget.
“While Republicans have now proposed a two week extension to keep the government open, we must stay focused on reaching a compromise to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Republicans must abandon the extreme and arbitrary cuts they called for in their spending bill that passed the House last week, and move closer to Democrats’ position of cutting spending in a smart, targeted way. I have talked to members of the Republican leadership, and I am hopeful we can resolve our differences on a long-term measure quickly so that we are not forced to continue funding the government in disruptive two-week increments that undermine efficiency. We need to seriously discuss how we can cut spending and invest in our nation’s future, and ensure that we continue the services which are essential to the American people and our economy. If we are going to get a handle on our nation’s deficit, we cannot continue to focus on a small portion of the budget. I hope Republicans will work with us to responsibly reduce the deficit and invest in the future of our economy.”
I’m glad to see Rep. Hoyer displaying some optimism about being able to come up with a compromise, but I’m still not too confident in the GOP’s wiliness to negotiate. As I pointed out yesterday, after all, they’re even proposing huge cuts in the two week continuing resolution they proposed just to keep the government running while Congress trying to work something out. Unfortunately, that means it looks like the GOP is going to continue forcing the American taxpayers to fund programs operating like company B.

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