Government Spending

Historic Do-Nothing Congress Still Found Time to Propose $1 Trillion in Spending


The Wash Times reports that never had so many done so little as last year's Congress:

It's official: Congress ended its least-productive year in modern history after passing 80 bills — fewer than during any other session since year-end records began being kept in 1947.

Furthermore, an analysis by The Washington Times of the scope of such activities as time spent in debate, number of conference reports produced and votes taken on the House and Senate floors found that Congress set a record for legislative futility by accomplishing less in 2011 than any other year in history.

More here.

To which some of us might say, Thank God.

Yet there's little doubt that the inability of the government not just to pass but to fully propose a budget is a real cause of problems. Or that the chief Jughead Jones to blame is Sen. Kent Conrad, the baldly incompetent fella in charge of writing the Senate's budget proposal who has managed to go a few years without executing such a task. Who knew when he announced his retirement that it would start so long before he left office?.

Such regime uncertainty—we'd be talking Greek-level incompetence on this score, except that Greece actually produced a budget—freezes everything and everyone and excacerbates all the negative trends in the economy. So thanks, Congress, for failing to provide a modicum of stability in a rough-and-tumble world.

Even worse, gridlock ain't what it used to be. Indeed, after George Bush's disastrous policies helped elect a hostile Congress in 2006, we didn't get gridlock, alas, especially in 2008. And now, chew on this:

As the Times' report notes, because entitlements consume so much of the federal budget, a lot of spending is on auto-pilot.

And more to the point, just because such brave leaders as Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and John Boehner can't finish up doesn't mean they're not trying to bust the bank.

Over at Investors Business Daily, John Merline reports that last year lawmakers

introduced 874 bills in the House and Senate that would have boosted annual federal spending by more than $1 trillion if they'd all been signed into law, according to an analysis done for IBD by the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

In contrast, lawmakers offered up just 215 bills to cut spending last year that would have reduced federal outlays by about half a trillion had they all been signed into law.

The analysis also found that for every dollar in cuts, lawmakers in the House proposed nearly $3 in spending hikes, and in the Senate $1.40 in hikes….

More here.

Not long ago, Tim Cavanaugh asked how can spending 30 percent more be austerity?


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  1. I don’t measure the success of a Congress by the number of bills it passes.

    If that were the sole criterion, then the most successful Congress evah would be the one that passes 1,000,000+ new laws that regulate/control everything and everyone in the society at every level of their existence.


  2. Insolent Flunky: Count Da Money!
    Count de Monet: De Monet! Say it… Mo – nay! Say it with me, Mo – nay!

  3. Can’t say that I am a big Mitt fan, but on this trajectory, the bond vigilantes are going to wake up some day during the next 4-8 years and refuse to buy our bonds. The Fed can cover for a while, but we are going to need someone who understands the financial markets when it all goes bust.

    1. Mitt has pretty much promised not to do anything about cutting spending, so I don’t see any break from $1T deficits even if he wins.

      So, when the bond market craters and the Fed is running up against hyperinflation, I don’t know that it really matters whether the President is a financial market guy or not. The solution isn’t clever manipulation of the markets, its CUTTING THE FUCKING SPENDING.

      And Mitt ain’t gonna do that.

      1. Mitt’s first challenge will be having Gingrich sealed up in an old missile silo in North Dakota, having saved us from that menace he can move on to saving Obama care and new entitlements for the elderly.

      2. Cut what, specifically?

        Can’t cut any departments because that would put people out of work.

        Can’t cut any entitlements because then people would no longer get their check.

        Can’t cut anything without someone, someone’s spouse, child, parent or grandparent being harmed.

        Everyone wants cuts. Just not those cuts.

        There will be no cuts. None at all.

  4. 80 Bills, you say, how many pages?

    1. Hey, leave the pages alone, ya perv.

    2. Right. And how many pages of regulation with the power of law are spawned from this legislation?

  5. “I will gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today.”

  6. Coming in 2013: ” Can’t Stop The Spending!” starring Mitt Romney.

  7. There is a dude that is jsut totally rocking. Wow.

    1. Hmm… the bots are making typos now.


  8. There will be no cuts. None at all.

    Oh, there will be cuts. Deep, harsh cuts.

    The ability of the bond markets to absorb our debt is not infinite. They will reach capacity, and we will not be able to borrow. That much is mathematically certain.

    We can monetize that debt, for a little while, but the Fed’s ability to debase the currency is also not infinite, and they will reach the end of that road, as well.

    At that point, we will have only the government that current taxes will pay for. Our ability to borrow will be gone. Our ability to print money to cover expenses will be gone. And with these, a big chunk of our economy and tax base.

    So, yes, there will be cuts. Completely and utterly inevitable cuts. Either we start cutting, deeply, now, or the cuts will happen because the money just doesn’t exist.

    1. At that point, we will have only the government that current taxes will pay for.

      At that point, in addition to taxing income, I predict a tax on wealth.
      The spending will continue until every bit of accumulated wealth that does not belong to the political class has been confiscated, and every bit of liberty has been destroyed.

      What’s left will be worse than the remnants of the Soviet Empire, and what emerges from its ashes will be just as bad.

      The American Experiment has failed.

      1. Stop harshing my buzz.

      2. Just part of the plan buddy…just part of the plan.

      3. I hope a decent black market can evolve.

  9. A trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money

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