Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The FY 2006 Budget: The Bad, The Good And The Ugly

The Bad

Republicans are in a dither about the FY 2007 budget as they try to work out a budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2007. On one hand, they want to increase spending on port security, homeland defense, health care and education, while on the other hand, they want to balance the budget by cutting budgets that have already been cut to the bone ( environmental and natural resource programs by 20 percent, community and regional development by 32 percent, and politically sensitive transportation spending would be cut by 17 percent.) But they've backed off cutting $37 billion in the growth of Medicare

The Good

Meanwhile, just to make matters worse for Republican leaders, moderate Republicans say their party has gone too far:

"We're beyond cutting the fat and beyond the bone. We're down to the marrow," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who plans to introduce an amendment today to raise spending on health care, education and worker safety by billions of dollars above the president's request for next year.

Specter's amendment, co-authored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), is only the beginning. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said he and Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) will introduce an amendment this week to broadly raise spending on homeland defense. Senate Democrats on their own will move to increase spending for homeland security by nearly $3 billion more than Bush's wishes.

Reps. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Calif.) and Jane Harman (D-Calif.) plan to unveil legislation today that would raise spending on port security by $801 million a year. That bill nearly equals a bipartisan Senate legislation that would raise annual port security spending by $835 million.
The Ugly

Some Republicans are downright pissed off at their party leaders for not getting serious about budget cutting. Some, like the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee, are so angry that they've resurrected the old Contract with on America, only this time it's the Contract with American RENEWED.

Read it yourself, if you can stomach it. But this will give you the idea:
Unfortunately, we are once again at a historic crossroads in the nation’s future. Despite initial successes, Republicans today are confronted with familiar challenges: expanding government, a worsening fiscal position, and an explosive growth in spending and earmarks. In fiscal year 2005, the federal government spent $2.47 trillion—49% more than it spent in fiscal year 1995 after adjusting for inflation. The deficit for the current fiscal year is projected to be upwards of $400 billion, the largest nominally in history. In 1995, the public debt limit stood at $4.9 trillion; it now stands at $8.2 trillion, up 67% and yet again in need of an increase. This is not the result of war and economic challenges, as is often claimed, but rather an unwillingness to make choices and trade offs.
What kind of "choices and trade offs?"

How about getting rid of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the only governement agency that conducts research into workplace safety and health issues?
Eliminate the Occupational Safety and Health Program at the CDC. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is responsible for “conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related illnesses and injuries.” It is questionable whether this constitutes a “disease” and if the program should be housed within the CDC. Also, the program duplicates functions of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). This proposal was included in the original budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 67) passed by the House of Representatives in 1995.
It just goes to show: bad ideas never die.