Senator Judd Gregg spent some time with Greta van Susteren explaining his confrontation with OMB director Peter Orszag, which comes in the first minute of this longish clip. Gregg does a good job of explaining why the budget that Barack Obama submitted to Congress is absolutely unsustainable, with deficits increasing in the latter half of the next ten years. Creditors will simply stop buying our debt after the next five to seven years, and perhaps even sooner than that. But the main takeaway is Gregg’s challenge to Orszag to read the law Gregg himself wrote before attempting to use TARP as a piggy bank:
Orszag has to get Congress to amend the law in order to use that TARP money for other purposes, but even the Democrats in Congress should be wary of allowing the executive branch that kind of slush fund — which is exactly what this is. The Constitution makes clear that the legislative branch controls appropriations, and for good reason. That is almost the only way Congress can hold the executive branch accountable for its spending and actions. Allowing any President to control tens of billions of dollars in blank-check funds strips the people’s branch of an important check on executive power.
Gregg had good reason to add that codicil to the TARP bill. Normally skeptical members of Congress only supported TARP with the assurance that it wouldn’t become an Oval Office slush fund and that receipts would go directly back to paying off debt. Congress had better recognize the danger of this path before they inadvertently fund a perpetual imperial Presidency.