Budget

Will a Zombie Congress Devour Our Gains?

Well...more than the non-zombie Congress already does.

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Reason
Reason

Congress will be returning to session next week after Labor Day with a busy agenda that nobody actually wants to deal with because this year's elections seem so crazy.

At the top of mind of small-government conservatives (and obviously libertarians) is the intense pressure to pass a spending bill to keep the government in operation. The omnibus spending bill approved last December funds the government to the end of September. So they've got to pass something.

Several activist groups that support reducing the size of government and lowering taxes are putting forward an organized effort to try to discourage Congress from kicking the can down the road to December's lame duck session and then pushing through a last-minute, post-election, must-pass spending bill influenced by members of Congress who are on their way out the door and don't have to worry about accountability. (We're looking at you, Sen. Harry Reid.)

Some of the groups involved—like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Task Reform—are heavy-hitters in small-government and Tea Party activism. They, and several dozen other organizations, are calling on Congress to avoid a last-minute push to fund government all the way through 2017 and quietly include all sorts of cronyist regulations that benefit certain influential parties that lobby the government. In a teleconference with the media this morning, participants noted efforts to re-establish the loan authority of the cronyist Export-Import Bank as a concern. In a letter, the groups note how last year's last-minute, must-pass omnibus spending bill turned out:

Congress already considered the matter of expiring tax provisions a little under a year ago. The $680 billion package signed into law last December made some of these items permanent and allowed more than two dozen others to expire at the end of 2015, laying the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform. Included in the nearly $20 billion in tax provisions that are set to expire are provisions pertaining to small-scale wind power, geothermal heat pumps, race horses, film production—provisions that distort our tax laws and narrowly benefit favored industries over the rest of the tax base. These provisions were made temporary for a reason. It makes no sense to come back just one year later and selectively extend certain provisions in a lame duck.

Reason noted some of the secret stuff buried in that Omnibus legislation earlier in our April issue (not all of it was bad—but it was certainly not transparent). In a press call this morning, representatives from three of the groups involved in this push said they're specifically focused on making sure spending legislation is not approved at the last minute, and only spending and tax-related legislation. They're going to stay focused on that goal and not other types of bills that could get pushed through in December. That may matter in the event that heavily negotiated criminal justice and sentencing reforms finally make it through Congress before the end of the year.

But clearly something does need to be passed in order to prevent a government shutdown. What some Republicans are pushing for is a continuing resolution to fund the government through March of next year. That would put the new president and a new Congress into place. Read more about the push behind that six-month plan here.

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  1. But clearly something does need to be passed in order to prevent a government shutdown.

    Shut ‘er down.

    We can use the entertainment of veterans fighting with mall cops.

    1. There’s probably few things the Clinton Campaign would love more than for government shutdown in October.

      1. Not a single government “shutdown” has worked to the Democrats’ advantage, but this one somehow will?

  2. But clearly something does need to be passed

    Oh great, more Top-Man-statism from Reason.

    1. Its the word “need” that bothers me, as it reeks of Do-Somethingism, as if nothing is worse than a government shutdown, so anything, anything at all the prevents it is a better option.

      My prediction: The Dems will bring this to a head in October, the Repubs will give them (again) every single thing they want, including extensions of the special tax breaks the Dems agreed last year should not be extended. There will be no comprehensive tax reform unless President Trump makes it a priority.

  3. Fuck it. Americas days are numbered. No matter what we’ll end up with a shitty totalitarian president.

    We will NEVER pay off the debt or even balance the budget.

    Things that cannot go on forever will not, including the nation.

  4. At the top of mind of small-government conservatives (and obviously libertarians) is the intense pressure to pass a spending bill to keep the government in operation.

    I fully expect John Boehner Paul Ryan to keep this from happening. Gaaaaaaaainnnnnnnns.

    And is that a 4MB jpeg? Come on, Shackelford.

  5. How about this:

    If a legislature fails to pass a budget before elections, the current funding levels are automatically maintained until two months after the new legislature convenes.

    And we should really align our budgets so that the budget is passed well away from election time?

  6. Freedom Partners, a group with close ties to the Koch brothers, is trying to rally congressional Republicans behind a plan that would postpone this year’s appropriations process until at least the spring of 2017, after the next president takes office, as part of an effort to reduce government spending.

    I have a plan to acquire Jessica Alba for a house pet, which has the same probability of success.

  7. The Democrats are begging for a shutdown, which will be the last nail in Trump’s coffin and usher in The Glorious Age.

    1. May flights of angels sing you to your rest…

    2. It will give NPR the chance to run all of those “poor poor 20 year government employee who can’t buy Christmas presents because his paycheck has been delayed by a few weeks” stories.

      1. “All Little Jimmy Cancerface wanted for Christmas was to visit Yellowstone one last time.”

        1. During the last shutdown, the local Park Service poobah shut down access to the Colonial Parkway, which I use daily. It was just to be an asshole and make the point that we need them.

          1. The National Park Service even paid to station guards around the Vietnam Memorial Wall to keep people away during the last shut down?

            1. That’s the government for you, spending MORE money when shut down than when regularly operating. No other type of “business” could pull that off.

    3. I suspect you’re right, SugarFree.

      My thoughts and prayers are with me.

    4. If conservatives wanted a genuine bloodless revolution, they should burn their tax forms like war protestors burned their draft cards. If half the country decides it’s done with taxes, the whole thing collapses — the amount they would have spend on enforcement would outstrip what they would make, and the cruelty they would need to deploy against the protestors would turn the squishy apolitical middle further against them.

      1. But that would require people to convince their employers to stop withholding, which won’t happen. The self-employed are probably too small of a contingent to reach “unarrestable” status.

        1. And if the employer stops withholding, he’ll get fucked and have the tax man at his door a lot sooner than, as they must make deposits bi-weekly.

      2. I am not sure this is true. At this point how much of the govts money comes from personal income tax? Do they keep it up just as a means of fucking with people? I think the answer might be yes.

        1. It is quite possible that they could just switch over to funding everything with debt, although I think they would have to raise the interest rates drastically to do so, which might make Paul Krugman’s head explode.

          … I’m trying to think of a downside

          1. they could just switch over to funding everything with debt, although I think they would have to raise the interest rates drastically to do so,

            I don’t think they would, at least in the short to mid term.

            They’ll just sell the new debt to the Federal Reserve (which they’ve been doing a lot of anyway). The Fed will “increase the money supply” as necessary to absorb the new debt. Its monetizing debt, which has a limited lifespan, but these people obviously aren’t concerned with the long run anyway.

            Another alternative is to require tax-advantaged retirement plans to hold a certain percentage of government bonds. Forced sales, in effect, to the citizenry. Or, if you will, rolling confiscation of retirement accounts.

            1. The Treasury issuing debt that gets bought by the Fed is just the government printing more money but disguising the fact by shuffling the account from one agency to another. It’s pure inflation.

              Your other suggestions are more likely, and they don’t even require any of this to happen. There’s a pot of money just sitting around not getting confiscated. Of course it will be a target, eventually…

            2. This is why I dont have a Roth account. The math makes sense for the Roth, but it relies on the government keeping their word.

              I will take my retirement tax benefits up front, thank you very much.

  8. Apparently we don’t even need Congress anymore.

    ALL PRAISE TO OUR DEAR LEADER!! HE IS TRULY A GIFT FROM THE GODS AND NO LIGHT ESCAPES HIS VIEW!!!

    Before the G20 summit this coming September, China and the US have already declared that they will be ratifying the iconic Paris Climate Change Agreement before the summit starts on September 4 and 5 in Hangzhou.

  9. Several activist groups that support reducing the size of government and lowering taxes are putting forward an organized effort to try to discourage Congress from kicking the can down the road to December’s lame duck session and then pushing through a last-minute, post-election, must-pass spending bill influenced by members of Congress who are on their way out the door and don’t have to worry about accountability. (We’re looking at you, Sen. Harry Reid.)

    Meanwhile, a hundred times as many activist groups that support increasing the size of government and raising taxes are putting forward an organized effort to encourage Congress to kick the can down the road to December’s lame-duck session and then push through a last-minute, post-election, must-pass spending bill influenced by members of Congress who are on their way out the door and don’t have to worry about accountability. (I’m looking at you, Sen. Harry Reid – and about 59 of your confederates in the Senate and 265 of your colleagues in the junior chamber.)

    This primary season should have told you nobody gives a rat’s ass about the budget or the deficit or government spending. There’s no votes in even pretending to be fiscally conservative when there are demons to be demonized and demonizers to be demonizered.

    1. But who demonizes the demonizer-demonizers?

        1. I thought devils was the next step up (or down, depending on your perspective).

  10. “the intense pressure to pass a spending bill to keep the government in operation.”

    If the FedGov stopped operating today and stayed that way it would not affect me in anyway whatsoever. It would be two or three years before I even found out the shitshow had stopped.

  11. Most often, a headline asking a question gets an automatic “no”.
    Not here…

  12. NOTHING LEFT TO CUT!!!!!

  13. Did you hear about the zombie outbreak in Washington DC? It didn’t amount to much; they starved to death.

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