This past week Congress kicked the budget can down the road, along with any pretense of trying to rein in deficit spending that will balloon the federal debt to $20 trillion, passing a budget deal that blows the top off budget caps and gives Obama a blank check.
The deal suspends borrowing caps until March 16, 2017, well after Obama leaves office. It increases spending on defense and domestic programs.
Among the more egregious aspects of the bill is that it steals $150 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund, paid into by workers to finance their retirements, in order to put a temporary patch on the disability insurance program, which has exploded under Obama as people unable to find work have managed to find “disabilities” to keep a check coming in.
It is being called the “Bipartisan Budget Act” because a few Republicans in the Senate and the House broke ranks to support the putrid deal, though not one single Democrat opposed it.
As for the Nevada delegation, all four Republicans voted no, while the state’s two Democrats voted aye.
“It’s business as usual here in Washington. This latest budget agreement is not a long term plan or solution the American people deserve. This plan will force Congress to revisit this same exact issue in a short amount of time. …” observed Nevada’s Republican junior Sen. Dean Heller. “It’s past time Washington addresses the needs of the people of this nation instead of continuing to punt to the next big deadline.”
Of course, the state’s retiring, long-sitting Democrat Sen. Harry Reid was effusive in his praise. “The bipartisan budget agreement passed today will help prevent a government shutdown and avoid a disastrous default on our nation’s obligations. It also will prevent a drastic cut to Social Security disability benefits, and a massive increase in Medicare premiums,” Reid said in a statement. “This agreement is not perfect, no legislation is, but it accomplishes two major priorities that Democrats have supported from the very beginning. The budget agreement promotes economic growth and job creation over the next two years by providing relief from the devastating sequester cuts. It also invests equally in both the middle class and the Pentagon.”
Rep. Cresent Hardy, a Republican representing the 4th Congressional District, like Heller, noted that the bill simply kicks the can down the road. “Our nation’s financial security is nearing a breaking point that we ignore at the endangerment of our future. Today’s so-called ‘Bipartisan Budget Act’ breaks current spending caps by $80 billion and does nothing to rein in long-term spending. Washington needs to take a long look in the mirror and make some difficult decisions based in reality.”
Hardy said the deal simply borrows more money and only delays and increases the problem for the next generation.
Rep. Joe Heck, who represents the 3rd Congressional District and is running for the Republican nomination to replace Reid in the Senate, said in his statement, “Admiral Michael Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called our national debt ‘the most significant threat to our national security.’ Yet this budget bill suspends the debt limit, giving the President a blank check until 2017, without making the significant reforms necessary to reduce spending and address the major drivers of our nearly $18.5 trillion debt. The House has addressed, and I have supported, legislation to boost defense spending to keep our nation safe through the National Defense Authorization Act — which the President vetoed — and the annual defense appropriations bill — which Senate Democrats blocked from getting a vote. At some point Washington has got to get serious about reducing our spending and the debt. Failure to do so is harmful to our national security. This deal falls short of that standard.”
Republican 2nd District Rep. Mark Amodei voted no, while 1st District Rep. Dina Titus voted with her Democrat colleagues.
Not only will Nevadans in 2016 be contemplating who the next president will be, but also one of our senators and all of our members of the House. Keep these votes in mind when you go to the caucuses and polls.
A version of this editorial appears this past week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.