Forget about budget discipline in D.C. It’s an emergency.
The Obama administration was caught unprepared by the onslaught of children coming across the southern border and illegally entering the U.S., so President Obama quickly pasted together a proposed response that would cost $3.7 billion.
Not satisfied to just deal with the immigration problems, Obama tacked on a request for $615 million for emergency wildfire suppression activities for FY 2014, and a new discretionary cap adjustment for wildfire suppression operations starting in FY 2015.
But he doesn’t want to pay for any of it. He’s fine with it being added to the already obscene national debt, already over $17.5 trillion.
Obama dismisses Republicans calling for the money to be offset by spending cuts to other programs.
Don’t you understand? This is an emergency, the White House says, ignoring that it’s own policies, in tandem with cynical politicians and law-breaking businesses, have been aggravating the illegal immigration problem for quite some time.
The Senate wants to jump on the “It’s an emergency” bandwagon with new Veterans Administration legislation, too.
In response to high publicity problems at VA hospitals, the Democrat-controlled Senate has passed legislation to address the problems. Part of the bill would provide funding for the VA to contract with private medical centers to help meet demand.
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has warned that the contracting section would lead to an explosive growth in entitlement spending, which is already out of hand. And the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the contracting provision alone would increase federal spending by about $35 billion over the next 10 years.
“We need to resist the temptation to create more entitlements and more entitlements, which is one of the reasons we are heading recklessly toward fiscal crisis,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who voted against the bill.
The Senate wants to pay the bill’s entire tab through emergency legislation, which means the tab would be added to the federal deficit.
But the bill approved by the Republican-controlled House would require that the cost be covered by spending cuts from somewhere else in the federal budget.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has tried to cast the House Republicans as folks who want to take food out of the mouths of the needy, medical care away from the infirm and quality education away from American children.
“I hope very much that the House will agree with the Senate that we are in an emergency and that [it] is absolutely imperative we move as quickly as possible” to authorize funding, Sanders said. “I hope very much we can avoid once again having a major debate about cutting food stamps, education, roads and bridges in order to fund the VA.”
Sure, sure. Spend away. No budget discipline needed here.
As Will Rogers said, “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer.”