Both Kuster and Shea-Porter cast their votes in support of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which, unlike the Budget, actually approves spending. That’s a worth-while distinction because, unlike state budgets, the federal budget has no legal standing. Which is why Washington has managed operating without an approved budget since 2009. Still, budgets keep getting the attention of the press, so we can’t do without them, can we?
But, perhaps a little more explanation is in order. Shea-Porter’s official web site tells us:
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.
“Discretionary spending” refers to the dollars Congress critters control and can use to extort/bribe the electorate for votes. It is to be contrasted with the “mandatory spending” which flows out of the Trust Funds (Old Age and Survivor Insurance, Hospital Insurance, Supplemental Medical Insurance and Disability Insurance), which the critters can only affect, if they do away with them entirely or “reform” them substantially. Which explains the perennial threats to do just that. Message to voters: “if you’re not nice, we’ll give you the shaft.”
The money Congress can play with keeps shrinking compared to the over-all economy. Though the data we have only covers 2012, the Trust Funds, which dispense dollars directly to users and providers of goods and services, rather than funneling dollars through contractors and banks, were already at $1.7 trillion, before the ACA was fully in effect. So, what’s happened, in effect, is that Congress has just about privatized itself out of influence (power) and military hardware is about all that’s left.
(Which is why Ohio Congressmen are bragging on amending the NDAA to keep Abrams tank upgrades on life support and outfit the National Guard).
“Bloat” is a relative term. On the other hand, “sequester relief” is downright deceptive — a euphemism to make deprivation more palatable. I’m not sure why they bother. It’s only a matter of time before the people figure out that if some people are poor, it’s because they don’t have enough money (a quantum that’s in infinite supply) and hiding some away in the bowels of the Treasury won’t give them more. What we have is a mangement problem and Congress abdicating its duties and obligations to the private sector is not helping. Though the shadow economy, circumventing all rules and regulations and reporting requirements to the tune of $2 trillion, is. Thirty billion less rationing in 2014 is too little, too late.
Three elections have replaced 212 members in the House and some incumbents still haven’t got the message.