Here are the highlights from this weekend’s editorials on fiscal and budget policy:
The Wall Street Journal noted the lessons that the United States could learn from Greece and their debt crisis. They noted how the US's debt held by the public was projected to reach 90% in ten years, close to the 113% level Greece is at now. According to them, "Greece's predicament...is signaling loud and clear that the spend-and-tax economic model has hit the wall."
The Hill reports that Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has promised to block all future spending bills that are not fully “paid for.” He currently is leading a Republican effort in the Senate to deny a month-long extension of expanded unemployment benefits, health insurance subsidies for the unemployed and the Medicare “Doc fix” unless the $9 billion cost is fully offset.
Health Care Makes it Through the Final Hoops – Congress completed work last week on the reconciliation package, which included fixes to the health care legislation that was previously enacted – ending a March of madness in Washington. The reconciliation bill bounced between the Senate and House to make a few minor changes.
Signaling bipartisan support for much-needed spending restraint, more than 100 members of the House and Senate are sponsoring legislation that would impose spending caps on discretionary spending. Nine bills imposing spending caps have been introduced in the House during the 111th Congress, while one bill has been introduced in the Senate.
For the United States Senate, which likes to be referred to as the "Upper Chamber," the term "vote-a-rama" does not sound too dignified. But the term, which could be some type of amusement park ride, will likely describe the Republican plan to slow down Democrats' plans to pass health reform through the budget reconciliation process. As bizarre as the budget process is, the "vote-a-rama" is a bit stranger.
Health Care Reform Moves Toward Showdown – The House Budget Committee today voted to push health care legislation forward. It now moves to the House Rules Committee, which later this week will make changes and approve of a rule for its consideration on the House floor. The bill approved by the Budget Committee today was merely a placeholder, the Rules Committee will make changes endorsed by the Democratic leadership designed to “correct” the health care overhaul approved by the Senate late last year in order to attract more votes in the House.
Legislation from Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to establish discretionary spending caps may get a third vote this week in the Senate after falling one vote short of the needed 60 votes last week. The bipartisan proposal seems to be gaining momentum after getting 56 votes in January during the debt ceiling increase debate.
The Senate has just approved, by a 62-36 vote, HR 4213, which extends unemployment compensation and COBRA benefits for the unemployed, along with many tax breaks, until the end of the year. Democratic leaders have promoted it as a jobs bill. Differences with the much-smaller House version must now be worked out.