Obey, Dem leaders block massive spending cut in Transportation bill of …

posted at 3:35 pm on July 30, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Democrats want to recast themselves as the party of fiscal responsibility, after going on a four-year spending spree that has seen an annual increase in federal spending of over a third.  President Obama has conferred a panel to find ways to attack deficits and lower the national debt.  One might think that cutting back on spending would be on the table, both in the commission and in Congress.

Apparently not:

A Democratic spending fight broke out behind closed doors Thursday, as party leaders successfully pressured four junior lawmakers not to offer an amendment slashing housing and transportation programs by $1.02 billion.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey argued passionately against the amendment and its authors — though not by name — in a speech to the Democratic Caucus in the morning, according to Democratic insiders. He pointed to the importance of the targeted programs and noted that the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development spending bill’s bottom line of $67.4 billion is less than the $68.7 billion proposed by the president, sources said.

“Obey got up there, and he was pissed,” said a senior Democratic aide.

He was quickly backed up by House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (D-Conn.), who urged fellow Democrats to lobby the amendment’s sponsors, Reps. Gary Peters of Michigan, Jim Himes of Connecticut, Peter Welch of Vermont and John Adler of New Jersey not to offer their plan.

Obey’s retiring, so he probably doesn’t care much one way or the other about the impact of spending in this session.  However, party leaders such as Larson will have to stick around for a while, or at least want to stick around.  Whether voters return Larson and other Democrats in charge remains to be seen, but pitching tantrums over a $1 billion reduction in a bill over $60 billion shows that Democratic leadership still doesn’t understand the anger in the electorate.

What’s remarkable about this is not just the amount of the cut — less than two percent of the overall bill — but where the amendment would have cut spending.  The two Democrats targeted programs that Appropriations had funded over the amount requested by the White House.  One of the programs involved low-income housing for veterans, however, and that cut was the straw that broke the camel’s back — even though it merely returned the spending level to the White House request.

Clearly, we have to cut a lot more than one billion dollars from the federal budget.  And just as clearly, Democrats can’t bring themselves to do it.  (h/t: analogkid2112 on Twitter)


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More ammo for the responsible party.

fogw on July 30, 2010 at 3:38 PM

“Give up our crack? Nah, just charge more stuff on our MasterCard.” — Junkie.

“Give up our pork? Nah, just charge it on our Chinese T-notes.” — Congress.

cthulhu on July 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM

The ads just write themselves! These guys will never cut ANYTHING. Except defense, of course.

Barney Frank’s committee just quietly passed two housing bills that will massively expand the failed public housing and Section 8 programs and create even more useless jobs at HUD. Haven’t seen anything about this, even in the conservative media.

rockmom on July 30, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Retiring Congressmen who vehemently oppose spending cuts like this need to followed after their retirement. Odds are, the money they were defending was actually ear-marked as a supplemental retirement account, conveniently directed to their own district.

Huh. Anyone wanna bet ‘Ol Blowhard himself, former Sen. Stevens (AK)is upset over being outed as a long-time corrupt politician? My guess is he hasn’t given the last 40 years a second thought. He’s too busy spending the “earmarked” money he sent home, literally.

BobMbx on July 30, 2010 at 3:42 PM

OK, Why is low income housing for veterans in the TRANSPORTATION bill?

What was the transportation funded budget for FY 2006? Let’s roll back spending to that level.

karenhasfreedom on July 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM

Nice pic with the ‘ghost of Democrat-pork-barrel-spending past’ behind Obey.

Brat on July 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM

That’s Exhibitt DD in why northwest Wisconsin is happy Obey is retiring.

steveegg on July 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM

I think we should tie in the size of each representative’s pension to the size of the federal deficit. The greater the deficit, the smaller their pensions.

I’d bet they’d find places to cut spending pretty darn quick and I’d bet that Obey would not be as passionate in his defense of big government.

PackerBronco on July 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM

More ammo for the responsible party.

fogw on July 30, 2010 at 3:38 PM

And what party would that be?

Inkblots on July 30, 2010 at 3:47 PM

“Give up our pork? Nah, just charge it on our Chinese T-notes.” — Congress.

cthulhu on July 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM

“The bill won’t be due until after we’re retired.”

itsnotaboutme on July 30, 2010 at 3:48 PM

Barney Frank’s committee just quietly passed two housing bills that will massively expand the failed public housing and Section 8 programs and create even more useless jobs at HUD. Haven’t seen anything about this, even in the conservative media.

rockmom on July 30, 2010 at 3:41 PM

But charge one extra dollar of his money, & he has a hissy fit!

itsnotaboutme on July 30, 2010 at 3:49 PM

Michael Barone has figured out that if you extrapolate the pattern of voting shifts in the January 2010 Massachusetts Senate election to November 2010, then the Democrats have only 103 safe House seats.

Emperor Norton on July 30, 2010 at 3:50 PM

November is a com`n!!!!

canopfor on July 30, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Reading this, I’ve come to the conclusion that our legislators are too busy in caucus meetings listening to the echo chamber, rather than being in the full house hearing views with a wide range that would represent our entire nation better.

ButterflyDragon on July 30, 2010 at 3:54 PM

One of the programs involved low-income housing for veterans, however, and that cut was the straw that broke the camel’s back — even though it merely returned the spending level to the White House request.
============================================
Again,the Liberals claim that they support the US Military!!

canopfor on July 30, 2010 at 3:55 PM

OK, Why is low income housing for veterans in the TRANSPORTATION bill?

What was the transportation funded budget for FY 2006? Let’s roll back spending to that level.

karenhasfreedom on July 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM

It’s the way Congress has divied up the appropriations. It lumps several agencies into one bill so one subcommittee can handle it. Transportation and housing are part of the same appropriations bill. The worst part of this is that if you want to cut something from HUD you have to take it out of Transportation, and vice versa.

Here’s a summary summary of the DOT/HUD bill – note how many programs are being INCREASED over what the President requested.

rockmom on July 30, 2010 at 3:56 PM

And what party would that be?

Inkblots on July 30, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Mine.

fogw on July 30, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Must be an old photo. Isn’t that the late great former Marine John Murtha in the background?

However, party leaders such as Larson will have to stick around for a while, or at least want to stick around. Whether voters return Larson and other Democrats in charge remains to be seen

I, for one, would love to un-stick “my” Congressman Larson. But cognitive dissonance runs deep in the heart of Blue-Conn voters. They seem to LOVE high taxes, although I could never figure out why.

Steve Z on July 30, 2010 at 3:59 PM

why cut a billion when you could cut…a million…

rollthedice on July 30, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Sure the Looters cut a billion, what you don’t see is the 20 billion in pork hidden throughout the bill. Clean house, imprison them all.

Bishop on July 30, 2010 at 4:03 PM

Republicans won’t have much bigger stones in 2011, though. So enjoy.

lorien1973 on July 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Come’on. Budgets are so 2008.

BowHuntingTexas on July 30, 2010 at 4:09 PM

Typical Democrat fiscal relativism. When it comes to a couple of hundred new F-22, $3 billion is a staggering fortune! But when it comes to an economy-crushing Keynesian/pork spending spree, or industry-crushing corporatist adventures in car company socialization or medical industry “reform,” trillions are just modest investments. Doublethink is upon us. $3 billion > $3 trillion, P and ~P, and Harry Reid is holding up three fingers, not four.

Blacklake on July 30, 2010 at 4:09 PM

“No, honey, the yacht was on sale. Yeah, I actually *saved* us $7,000,000.”
- Kerry Insert politician name here

rogerb on July 30, 2010 at 4:10 PM

But Obama cut 10,000,000 from the budget last year!

lorien1973 on July 30, 2010 at 4:12 PM

So Himes was one of the four panic stricken guys trying to fake fiscal responsiblility??? After following Pelosi blindly for two years? Himes is way more than a day late and a dollar short.

Maybe Jim Himes is finally realizing his days as a Connecticut congresscritter are up this November. Fairfield County voters will not be duped again.

marybel on July 30, 2010 at 4:12 PM

Another spending bill porkulates its way through the House behind closed doors.

GnuBreed on July 30, 2010 at 4:14 PM

Can’t they just get rid of bottled water for staffers etc. and they are more than half way there. I guess they never heard of a water fountain.

txmomof6 on July 30, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Seriously folks, I don’t believe the Republicans have that much credibility on this issue. Granted, spending (as well as corruption)increased when Democrats won the House majority, but the Republicans didn’t exercise enough fiscal restraint themselves during the first six years of G.W.Bush.

The voters just aren’t interested in Republicans if they’re going to be ‘Democrat light’.

C’mon America, try out the new Democrat Light Party. It’s got 1/3 less liberalism than the regular Democrat Party. Also tastes great, and is less filling . . .

listens2glenn on July 30, 2010 at 4:19 PM

If I vote for House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson, does that make me a Larsonist?

faraway on July 30, 2010 at 4:21 PM

That’s Exhibitt DD in why northwest Wisconsin is happy Obey is retiring.

steveegg on July 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM

No offense steveegg, but fat, stupid, liberal David Obey has run for re-election every two years since he got in the House in 1969. If northwestern Wisconsin voters wanted him retired, they could have done that in any of the past 20 elections.

You live in an area controlled by scumbag leftists, like me.

Jaibones on July 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM

You live in an area controlled by scumbag leftists, like me.
Jaibones on July 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM

You’re a scumbag leftist?

Bishop on July 30, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Anyone else notice Murtha’s ghost looking over Obey’s shoulder in the screen cap?

dczombie on July 30, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Well OK, so $1 billion is to much to shoot for.

Next year when they propose a $4 trillion budget, just aim for a 750 million dollar spending cut.

That oughta work!

manofaiki on July 30, 2010 at 5:40 PM

Appearing over Obey’s shoulder is Banquet’s Frozen Chicken Pulled Pork Dinner Ghost

/Macbeth channel off

ya2daup on July 30, 2010 at 6:45 PM

I would draw everyone’s attention to another more insidious aspect of this which Ed alluded to. That is the practice of calling decreases in the planned expansion of programs as “cuts”. This charade is played out over and over, just as we see here. Program X is scheduled to increase by 10%. When someone suggests that the increase be only 5% it is attacked as a huge 50% reduction and slashing of a key program.

Nowhere does a program seem to actually get cut like you and I would do, i.e. we spent $1,000 for a something last year and this year we are only going to spend $800.

Until this semantic trick gets highlighted each and every time and this game of faux “cuts” ended the overall size of government is never going to decrease.

mrveritas on July 30, 2010 at 7:49 PM

I would draw everyone’s attention to another more insidious aspect of this which Ed alluded to. That is the practice of calling decreases in the planned expansion of programs as “cuts”. This charade is played out over and over, just as we see here. Program X is scheduled to increase by 10%. When someone suggests that the increase be only 5% it is attacked as a huge 50% reduction and slashing of a key program.

Nowhere does a program seem to actually get cut like you and I would do, i.e. we spent $1,000 for a something last year and this year we are only going to spend $800.

Until this semantic trick gets highlighted each and every time and this game of faux “cuts” ended the overall size of government is never going to decrease.

mrveritas on July 30, 2010 at 7:49 PM

We seem to have long lost that argument because the democratics own the old media. The newest semantic tomfoolery is to label tax cuts as ‘spending’, and the liberals are winning on that one too.

slickwillie2001 on July 30, 2010 at 8:30 PM

steveegg on July 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM

No kidding, and not fast enough!

wi farmgirl on July 31, 2010 at 9:51 PM

think we should tie in the size of each representative’s pension to the size of the federal deficit. The greater the deficit, the smaller their pensions.

I’d bet they’d find places to cut spending pretty darn quick and I’d bet that Obey would not be as passionate in his defense of big government.

PackerBronco on July 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Sounds like a great idea, and I don’t think Obey just likes the money, he is all about power and accolades. The progressives back home love the dude.

wi farmgirl on July 31, 2010 at 9:53 PM

You live in an area controlled by scumbag leftists, like me.

Jaibones on July 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Yes we do, and they love to have them bring home the bacon. It is sickening. They just got 800 million for a high speed train from Milwaukee to Madison. What for? This is not NYC or Chicago for crying out loud. Who will fund it down the road? 2/3′s of WI is rural and many unemployed. Thank Obey for that one. What a putz.

wi farmgirl on July 31, 2010 at 10:00 PM