BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White
The media is all abuzz about the new deal on the suggested repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Finally, after years of whining that the president -- who has no authority to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military -- hasn't done anything to end DADT, Congress is stepping up to the change plate. But there's another, perhaps less sexy, story today about Congress complaining about President Obama not doing their job for them, only this time it's about who's holding the purse strings.
Obama has requested expanded authority to reduce the deficit by cutting specific items out of spending bills. The powers -- called expanded rescission authority -- would be similar to, but not as grandiose as President Clinton's line-item veto power, which was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998.
If you were to read this highly-biased FOX News "report," you'd be led to believe that not only does the president already have this power, but that George W. Bush was a fiscal conservative. Geez, what hypocrites these liberals are:
President Obama has often stated his desire to cut spending in the federal government, even using his administration's own practices as an example, but House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) says Mr. Obama doesn't need to create a new spending cut power; he's already got it.
"We’re pleased President Obama is interested in demonstrating fiscal discipline, but he already has the authority to force Congress to consider spending cuts immediately and Republicans have been inviting him to use it for months," he said in a statement reacting to the president's proposal.
"With our national debt nearing $13 trillion and Democrats on the verge of adding another $200 billion to the deficit, why can’t we start cutting wasteful Washington spending right now...?" Boehner posed.
...It was Democrats who defeated similar legislation under President Bush three years ago. Now that a member of their party is in the White House, it's not yet clear whether they'll change their minds.
Well, thanks to FOX's expanded disinformation authority, the biased "news" network can cut out any truth that doesn't quite fit into the message budget.
So let me lay it out for you: The supposed power the president already has to cut spending inside bills is significantly weaker than what the president is asking for. In fact, according to The New York Times, the authority is not an "authority" at all, since Congress can just ignore the cuts the president makes. This change would mean Congress would be forced to vote on the amended bill within 25 working days.
President Bush did request the same expanded authority, but like President Obama, never used the limited authority he already had. This omission was probably because he realized what Boehner would prefer not to mention: that Congress is a bunch of babies who don't like it when their toys are taken away.
Sen. Orrin Hatch called it “a cynical ploy to try and distract the American people from this administration’s terrible fiscal record.” I call that characterization a cynical ploy to cover up the fact that the GOP doesn't want an executive from someone else's party with any power over the budget. Perish the thought of President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy being allowed to perish!
In reality, this illustrates the Republican Party's hypocritical stance on fiscal responsibility. It's not that they want across-the-board spending cuts; they want cuts to programs they don't like. They don't trust members of the opposition with any kind of budget-cutting instrument, be it a scalpel or and ax.
To be fair, this also brings up some Democratic hypocrisies, as well, though not in as sharp a relief. Democrats who are willing to give over their checkbooks to Obama but wouldn't do the same for Bush are clearly stating that they don't trust the other guys either. And if they don't, what makes them think another Dubya isn't perched right around the corner, waiting to use this expanded authority against progressive outlays?
The Times reports that Blue Dogs are responding favorably to the proposal, which may in fact be the first time they haven't displayed their two-facedness on a major issue in quite some time. After all, they claim to be the fiscally-responsible wing of the Democratic Party. Clearly their colleagues are unable to make meaningful progress toward a balanced budget, so why not hand some of the power -- and ultimate responsibility for when angry citizens have beloved programs or pork cut from the federal budget -- over to the executive?
The reality is that spending cuts, just like almost every change to the status quo, are easy for Congress to bluster about, but much more difficult for the slow-moving body to actually act upon. If lawmakers want to actually call themselves fiscally responsible, they'll have to start acting on it. And if the president starts acting on it on Congress' behalf, Congress will have to stop saying the Obama Administration is responsible for the massive budget deficit.
Of course, that's not going to happen as long as FOX is out there tellin' it like it ain't in a cynical ploy to try and expand its disinformation authority. But that's a whole other story.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS