Should the Government Shut Down Over FEMA Spending?

Your tax masters at work, ladies and gentlemen:

The House and Senate last week intended to pass a bill to keep the government funded through November 18 and provide emergency funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). But Democrats and Republicans disagreed over whether it's necessary to cut funding for other programs to pay for the FEMA expenses, and they failed to pass the bill. Now, if Congress doesn't pass the spending bill by Sept. 30, the government would be forced to shutdown.

The Senate on Friday rejected the House version of the bill, which would have allocated about $1 trillion in government funding, including about $3.7 billion for FEMA disaster aid. The Democratic-led Senate voted against the House bill because it includes $1.6 billion in Republican-proposed spending cuts targeting the Department of Energy's Advanced technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program. The program gives loans to car companies to pay for things such as factory upgrades and the development of new, green, fuel efficient technology, and Democrats say the cuts would cost up to 10,000 jobs.

More here.

Things to note: We're broke as a country. If Congress can't find $3.7 billion in offsets for unexpected spending, then we're totally screwed. And note that as idiotic as the Dems are being, the Republicans are still $2.1 billion short in cuts to offset the FEMA dough.

Most of the coverage of this story has been about the politics - is it good for the GOP or the president/Dems if the government shuts down, even for a day? I don't really care about that. What I do know is that when you a government that hasn't passed a budget for the fiscal year that ends in a few days and there's no prospect for putting one together for the coming year, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. And explains perfectly why we're in this mess.

More on the absolute unreality of budget talks here.

Reason.tv on 2009's record-setting budget deficit:

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  • ||

    But if the federal government doesn't buy new carpet for people who live in flood plains, we are poorer as a nation!

  • sevo||

    I figured he was praying for rain.

  • Old Mexican||

    Things to note: We're broke as a country. If Congress can't find $3.7 billion in offsets for unexpected spending, then we're totally screwed.


    Hey! That's a lie! We're not broke by any defintion of the word! The AP "Fact Checkers" told me so!!!

  • ||

    Heh. We're so broke we can't even pay the fact-checkers to report the truth.

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

  • Ed||

    I don't know why it's so impossibly to simply take this off the top of the so-called entitlements, which are no such thing. If any given discretionary program is so absolutely necessary, why not just reduce Social Security or Medicare payments by 0.001% or whatever?

  • Almanian||

    Ed, why do you hate the retirees?

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    when you a government

    I think you accidentally a word.

  • ||

    Actually, Nick is just regressing to his Italian ancestry: "...when you-a government that hasn't-a passed a budget-a..." and so forth.

  • Mike M.||

    This is clearly a deliberate strategy engineered by the scummy lowlife Harry Reid and the democrats. Their goal is to try to lock in all of the insane spending increases they engineered in 2009, while attempting to absolve themselves politically of the responsibility.

    Needless to say, the latter part didn't work out too well in the 2010 election, and I see it working much better next year. But it could well be that they're so desperate to permanently lock in the insane spending that they're actually willing to sacrifice even more of their caucus; that's how deranged these sick bastards are.

  • ||

    Their goal is to try to lock in all of the insane spending increases they engineered in 2009, while attempting to absolve themselves politically of the responsibility.

    Mission accomplished.

    We won't see an actual budget adopted until sometime after the 2012 elections, at the earliest, and then only for a partial fiscal year.

    The @ 18% (if memory serves) increase in the federal budget in "special emergency one-time OMG-its-a-crisis" spending will have be 4 years old by that time, and effectively graven in stone.

    Sure, you can chisel the stone out, but the political will (and price) to do so are far beyond our current political class.

    That increase won't be walked back until the bond market walks it back for us. That's Obama's real legacy, and it includes the incalculable pain involved.

  • ||

    "Should the government shut-down..."

    Stop right there and answer yes.

  • ||

    Sure, you can chisel the stone out, but the political will (and price) to do so are far beyond our current political class.

    I'm with Pro Lib; at this point, pure cleansing fire is our only hope.

    Which means we're DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED.

  • ||

    Fire. It does a body politic good.

  • House Targaryen||

    It's always been the principle we lived by.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Explain your plan for modernizing our military again.

  • Tony||

    It's not responsible governance to require arbitrary budget cuts to pay for emergency spending. It would be responsible to tax at a level required to pay for what we buy and contingencies like natural disasters. But we can't do that, because Republicans would be forced to give up their golden political argument that taxes=bad. It's like running for kindergarten class president on an anti-vegetable platform.

    The word for this behavior is "sabotage." They think small government is so great yet they want to be able to blame Dems for every program they cut, and every lost job as a result.

  • Maxxx||

    Putting a limit on spending and requiring people to choose how to spend that money is just mean.

  • Restoras||

    Meanie!

  • Tony||

    But that's not how anyone else, individual or business, is expected to operate, at least not since the invention of credit. Emergencies are emergencies. The limit you want to place is not only arbitrary but dishonest in its intentions. The GOP does want to cut a lot--but of course only to programs that aren't beneficial to the GOP. But rather than just putting the matter up to an honest vote, they're using disaster victims as bargaining chips. That's one way to get what you want I guess, but it's not responsible governance.

  • NotSure||

    Next you are going to say that your party only supports programs for the benefit of all, they would never want to do anything that buys them votes.

  • Tony||

    There are a few Democrats who see it as their job to line the pockets of their corporate donors. The problem is the entire GOP feels that way, and wants us to pat them on the back for their efforts.

  • Restoras||

    There it is!

  • ||

    Funny, in this one case the program the Democrats refuse to cut is pure corporate welfare- and yet you still support it. The Democrats are completely incapable of suggesting cutting any corporate welfare program instead, too. All spending must be defended equally, which is as dumb as blindly cutting.

  • Tony||

    The reason this particular spending is defended is because it's claimed that cutting it would result in job losses. We've never had to offset disaster spending before, and that's never caused runaway inflation, so there's no reason to think we have to choose between those jobs and disaster funding.

    Isn't this all kind of petty considering the obvious, admitted tactics of the GOP--that they want high unemployment for their own political gain? Why are we pretending that they're just being responsible accountants here?

  • Fluffy||

    We've never had to offset disaster spending before

    Now you do.

    If the FEMA spending isn't more important than electric car spending, then it can't really be that important.

    If it was such a god-awful emergency, you'd jump up and say, "Yes! YES OF COURSE it's more important than our green loan program! We have NO PROBLEM moving that funding over for this unavoidable emergency FEMA spending!"

    The fact that you won't give up the green loan program for it leads me to conclude that it mustn't be that important.

  • Tony||

    Ah the reasonableness of the hostage-taker. "Perfectly clear choice. I either shoot your dog or I shoot your baby. And after I force you to let me shoot your dog, you should shake my hand and thank me for saving your baby."

  • Fluffy||

    If my kid can't choose between buying potato chips and buying matchbox cars, he doesn't get to tell me that buying matchbox cars is super-important.

    It's not "taking hostages" to hand someone a fixed amount of money and say, "Any change you make to your budget is OK, as long as you don't spend any more money than this."

  • ||

    "hostage taker" accusation. Check.
    "racist" accusation. Still to come.
    Questions over why govt is loaning money to carmakers for a product that people don't want? Not coming, at least from Talking Points Tony.

  • Fluffy||

    And by the way, I'm not shooting your dog.

    It's more like you come to my house and say, "Mister, mister! I need $500 to save my dog and $500 to save my baby!" and I say, "Well, I'll give you $500 to save your baby," and you say, "Fuck you you dog killer!"

  • Tony||

    When Republicans offer to give up some of their corporate welfare your analogy might work. The crime against sanity here is pretending that they are just being fiscally prudent.

  • Lamarck's Giraffe||

    Everyone, look over there at that distraction. Team Red is worse!

    How about you demand that the GOP cut the $2.1 billion they are still short from one of their out sacred cows? Instead you whine and bitch that you cannot have every toy in the Team Blue toy store. Pure political hackery.

  • Fluffy||

    If the budget was balanced and an emergency arose, NOT EVEN I would begrudge the government borrowing money to bridge the gap.

    The problem here is that you're defining an an "emergency" funding for an agency that did not exist before 1979. If floods weren't that big an emergency in 1978, they're not that big an emergency now.

    The GOP does want to cut a lot--but of course only to programs that aren't beneficial to the GOP. But rather than just putting the matter up to an honest vote, they're using disaster victims as bargaining chips.

    The Democrats and Republicans went through an extraordinary and protracted political struggle over budget cuts when the debt ceiling raise was passed.

    What's really happening here is that the Democrats want to say, "We've agreed to all the cuts we want to agree to; if anything else comes up, screw you we're not cutting anything and we should just borrow the money."

    The Republicans are saying, "The budget we agreed to before did not include this spending. Since now new spending is needed, we're going to reopen the issue of what should be cut."

    Any time any new spending is considered whatsoever, the floor is open to discussion of new cuts. Just make that your operating assumption from now on and you will spare yourself some confusion.

  • Tony||

    Floods obviously were problems before 1978, and so were hurricanes and tornadoes and grass fires. Ron Paul portrays this folksy image but I was horrified when he said that Galveston didn't need FEMA before, as if mass death and a city that never really recovered was an example to be emulated.

    And that Republicans will require cuts for every expense is one of my operating assumptions. But since Republicans are by far the bigger culprits with respect to massive deficit spending, and on useless things like wars-based-on-lies and corporate giveaways, another operating assumption is that they are lying hypocrites deliberately making this country ungovernable for their own political gain.

    If the opposition isn't pushing back on their fiscal terrorism then they aren't doing their job of defending the country from its enemies.

  • Fluffy||

    Harry Reid and Barack Obama aren't "the opposition", dopey.

  • ||

    People used to have the brains not to build a house or business next to a river that is prone to flooding.

    If you did decide it was worth it, you bought some expensive insurance or accepted the act that your were going to suffer losses periodically.

    Now big brother bails you out for your stupidity and I get the bill.

  • Tony||

    So what about the children of people too stupid not to build in the line of potential natural disasters?

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    "But that's not how anyone else, individual or business, is expected to operate, at least not since the invention of credit."

    Bull-fucking-shit

    If you're operating at a net loss over the past few years and for as far as you can see into the future, head on down to the bank and ask for some credit. "Cause it's an emergency you see?"

  • NotSure||

    Here is Tony the expert on responsibility, the one that thinks giving free money to irresponsible politicians and voters is the responsible thing to do.

  • ||

    tony,
    if it is irresponsible to ask for cuts to pay for emergencies, what is it to confiscate tax money for loans to preferred constituencies like certain automakers? I believe the word is unconstitutional.

  • Matrix||

    bad analogy, Tony. Shame on you.

    Taxes =/= good.

  • Bizarro American People™ ||

    We refuse to be held hostage by our incompetent government.

  • ||

    Our political system may be broken, but how can you say that we're "broke as a country" when (a) the government can choose to raise more revenue, (b) the government can choose to print more money, and (c) the government can borrow more money at effectively negative interest rates? If that is what is means to be "broke" then we should all be so lucky.

  • ||

    t's not responsible governance to require arbitrary budget cuts to pay for emergency spending

    to pretend there are unlimited resources, and that there are mo meaningful qualitative distinctions between classes of spending, or different types of "government services".

  • Tony||

    Resources aren't unlimited but tax rates are at their lowest in the better part of a century, so pretending there's no way to pay is the height of dishonesty. There's no way to pay only if you accept GOP religious dogma on taxes, that they can never go up. Since when did that become a fact?

  • NotSure||

    There is no way taxes will pay for your utopia you idiot, even with a 100% tax rate, it will not even pay a years debt that is being accumulated all the time.

  • Tony||

    Since nobody's talking about a utopia, you seem to be making an argument for large tax hikes. I could say spending cuts will never get us to a balanced budget, therefore we should cut $0, and it would be the mirror image to your argument.

  • NotSure||

    You talk utopia all the time, giving money for doing nothing is the path, that is your mantra you drone on about all the time.

    I know your maths knowledge is not the best, but to balance the budget is VERY easy, you stop spending more than the money you have ! That means stop wasting money on war, welfare and thousands of pointless government departments.

  • Tony||

    I rarely ever talk about anything but the next policy step--I think fantasizing about utopia is pointless and childish, despite its being the basis for most libertarian thought.

    Balancing the federal budget is even easier when you allow for the fact that the government can collect taxes. That's one of its primary jobs, in fact. You're not interested in balancing the budget, you're interested in pretending that balancing the budget is necessary right now and using that claim as the excuse to gut government so as to more quickly approach your utopia (social darwinism).

  • NotSure||

    You talk Utopia all the time, you want a society that gets something from doing nothing, it is about as utopian as it gets.

    Like I said bozo, you can tax people 100%, it will NOT balance the budget, perhaps you should go to a remedial school for adults, so you can learn how numbers work. You may not like darwinism, but in the end a country that rewards its losers should not wonder why businesses are leaving it and declines in wealth, you may not like it, but your faith in Utopia is being not going to work in the real world.

  • Tony||

    How numbers work. Hmm. So either you must pay down the entire debt via taxes, or you can not raise any taxes.

    So why can't I say that spending cuts that don't result in a balanced budget means no spending cuts at all?

  • NotSure||

    You can say what you want. But in the real if you only earn 10 units and then want live of monthly costs of 100 units, do not be surprised when that does not end very well for you. In your utopian world, trivial things like profit and loss are not relevant, but in the real world they actually really do cause problems when ignored.

    But like I said, learn how numbers work, 100% tax rates will not solve anything, other than satisfy your envy for the successful.

  • Restoras||

    Headline should be:

    Should the Government Shut Down Over FEMA Spending?

    Answer: Yes.

  • Copernicus||

    A new hobby: relishing the opening sentence of Tony's bullshit. It's always interesting to watch how he edges himself into the debate, after all, first impressions are so important.

    In today's episode we see the words "responsible governance" and milk shoots out our noses.

    In conclusion: Tony, SHUT THE FUCK UP!!

  • WTF||

    But if he actually shut the fuck up, we would be deprived of gems like this:

    If the opposition isn't pushing back on their fiscal terrorism then they aren't doing their job of defending the country from its enemies.

    Promoting less spending and lower debt is 'fiscal terrorism', and makes you an enemy of our nation! Bravo, Tony sock puppet, bravo!

  • Restoras||

    It's so cute when the statists think thier precious Leviathan operates like a business or an individual - with responsibility and assumption of consequences for bad decisions.

  • Jennifer||

    We can't afford to help victims of natural disasters because we prefer to fund things like a bloated military almost as expensive as every other military on earth combined. We can't afford to repair our decaying infrastructure because we're spending too much money bombing the infrastructure of other countries. We can't afford to get drugs to sick people who need them because we're spending too much money imprisoning sick people who use unapproved drugs.

    To understand the American government view of responsible budgeting, imagine a spoiled shithead of a parent who has a deluxe cable package, upgrades to a new smartphone every year, goes to the spa for a mani-pedi every week ... and lets her sick kid die because she simply "can't afford" four lousy dollars to buy an antibiotic prescription at Target.

  • Lamarck's Giraffe||

    The government is worse that the shithead parent in your example. At least the shithead wasn't taking money from his neighbors to fund his lifestyle.

    (Insert all appropriate libertarian arguments against the federal government disaster aid, infrastructure, and medical care here. It is all misspent! Some worse that others.)

  • ||

    I was driving through Joplin this weekend. And I saw them putting up bunches of those white FEMA trailers across from the Joplin Airport. I wondered how long they were goin to get to live there? How long should we be willing to foot the bill to put them there?

    I drove down 20th street and didn't realize when I got to Main Street because all the visual cues I knew growing up, were gone. You can see the skeleton of St. Johns from Rangeline.

    And I thought to myself to what degree am I willing to put a gun to your head to help these people out. A year? Two years?

    But what really got me pissed off is that I thought, if we didn't have two wars, if we didn't bail out shitty car companies that build shitty cars that no one wants to drive, if we didn't have TARP, if we didn't have 16 trillion in secret loans, http://blog.alexanderhiggins.c.....ns-37651/, if we didn't bomb Libya, Yemem, and Somalia, ..... if we got rid of the DEA, ATF, Legal Services corporation, PBS, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Education, Department of Energy, we could easily help fellow americans, temporarily, through a natural disaster.

  • ||

    pretending there's no way to pay is the height of dishonesty.

    How are we supposed to characterize "pretending there is no limit to what the government can effectively accomplish"?

  • Tony||

    Pretty sure it can accomplish a stop-gap spending bill and disaster funding.

  • Fluffy||

    No one's pretending there's no way to pay.

    The GOP has found a way to pay and is offering it to you:

    Cut spending for this bullshit electric car program.

    "Wah! You're not offering a solution!"

    "We offered you the solution of cutting this program."

    "Wah! You're not offering us the solution we want!"

  • Tony||

    Will the GOP take responsibility for the jobs that are lost as a result? Or will they blame that on the mere nebulous presence of Obama like they do everything else?

  • ||

    There goes Tony, serving his corporate masters by accepting every claim that corporate welfare is needed to produce jobs.

  • Tony||

    I don't have a problem with government intervening in the economy to create jobs or even to buy products and services to certain social ends. I have a problem with government intervening to secure private-sector profits at the expense of the people whose interests it's supposed to look after.

  • NotSure||

    You may not have a problem, but many businesses do, which is why they tend to not want to stay in a place, or are forced to bribe politicians (the option you support).

    Oh, to wake you from your utopian dream world, the biggest government intervention ever, has failed to solve the jobs problem, all it has done is increase the debt levels and the increase number of corrupt companies and failed companies.

  • WTF||

    I have a problem with government intervening to secure private-sector profits at the expense of the people whose interests it's supposed to look after.

    So then you do have a problem with government subsidizing electric car companies!

  • Fluffy||

    There is absolutely no way to distinguish this: government intervening in the economy to create jobs or even to buy products and services to certain social ends from this intervening to secure private-sector profits at the expense of the people whose interests it's supposed to look after.

  • Tony||

    Well I don't expect government to manufacture every chalkboard and desk for every school. It will be a market participant, what's important is that it's working for the interests of the people and not just plutocratic puppetmasters.

  • Economics 101 Professor||

    I don't have a problem with government intervening in the economy to create jobs or even to buy products and services to certain social ends.

    And that is why you fail.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You don't have a problem with anything leviathan does because you actively support it. By voting Team BLUE, you ensure gays get fucked when it comes to marriage (no pun intended), that we have never-ending wars, that we continue to prosecute the war on drugs.

    You fooled yourself in to thinking that there is some substantive difference between Teams RED and BLUE, and what's worse, you've been fooled in to believing that the world will end if Team RED were to win, as opposed to remaining exactly the same as it is.

  • Tony||

    There is only one TEAM that is currently getting its marching orders from neofascist right-wing fanatics. I didn't say I like it. I'd much prefer two sane parties to choose from. It's just not the case, and they will destroy this country if they ever get their hands on it again.

  • Almanian||

    Shut down for FEMA, shut down for lack of common sense, shut down because the sky is blue - anymore, I don't really care what the reason is - CALL THEIR BLUFF AND SHUT IT DOWN ALREADY YOU PUSSIES!

    But, of course, they won't. Fuckers.

  • Tony||

    As Ron Paul in his infinite wisdom says, it's people's own fault for choosing to live on a planet where natural disasters occur.

  • Fluffy||

    You could help those people if you'd just give up a little spending for your green jobs program.

    Since you won't give it up, I guess you really don't care about the poor, poor victims of natural disasters.

  • Tony||

    No, what I don't care about is letting the GOP use every natural disaster as a means to an end in their neverending quest to loot the country for multinational corporate elites. Nobody in their party thought it necessary to give up anything to pay for their multitrillion dollar war based on lies, so why should anyone listen to them about anything?

  • Fluffy||

    So what you're saying is that you love the victims of natural disasters, but you hate the GOP more?

  • Spoonman.||

    Uh...You realize what the GOP wanted here was to cut funding to a program that gave money to multinational corporate elites, right?

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    "...letting the GOP use every natural disaster as a means to an end in their neverending quest to loot the country for multinational corporate elites. "

    I can only assume that you're either stupid or joking, Tony.

    No one with any intelligence could type that the blatant payout to political cronies ("green" cars) that the Democratgogues want to keep (just as they are the source of almost all corporate welfare) will create any jobs with a straight face.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    It's hilarious, actually.

    In Tony's world, giving everyone low tax rates (some so low, they're actually zero) is "loot[ing] the country for multinational corporate elites".

    But giving a few multinational corporate elites subsidies and tax credits for helping the party (that no one who doesn't help the party gets) is pure social justice.

  • o2||

    talk about conflation jeesch

  • shorter o2||

    derp

  • ||

    Pretty sure it can accomplish a stop-gap spending bill and disaster funding.

    The only solution to this impasse: we'll "compromise" and give everybody everything they want. That way, everybody's a winner, and nobody suffers from low self-esteem. And the rubes will pay the bill, one way or another.

  • Tony||

    That is what responsibility is all about, making sure that nobody loses, and that nobody has low self esteem.

  • CE||

    Should the government shut down over FEMA spending?

    Who cares what the reason is, shut it down! Any reason will do, and most of us will be a lot better off.

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