for the week ending October 6, 2017
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They say necessity is the mother of invention and as we look at the FY 2018 Budget Resolution passed by the House this week we see not necessarily the Resolution passed as part of an organized, regular order of legislating but a monumental setup to follow the Republican agenda next year and to do so without any influence from Democrats.
Disgraced former Republican House Speaker, Dennis Hastert implemented the plan that no bills would come to the floor unless they had enough Republican votes to pass. A seriously divided Republican Party that can’t seem to gather those Minority blocking votes has taken that strategy to the next level by using reconciliation. Some say it is the only purpose for HCR 71, the FY 2018 budget resolution and they may be right.
The Budget Resolution –
The Senate is still marking up its resolution for this fiscal year and it promises so far to increase the deficit over ten years to $1.5 trillion. Yes, $1.5 trillion. The House resolution is not so severe; seeks not to increase the deficit while spending $4.1 trillion. The reconciliation instructions in the bill require $203 billion in spending cuts spread out over eleven committees. While those committees may or may not find those savings it is set to be done should tax cuts get passed and offsets are necessary. Cuts are likely to come from social safety net programs.
We will see what the Senate votes on next week and how differences are ironed out in conference but we now know that the House Republican agenda plans on possibly turning Medicare into a voucher system, cutting deeply into Medicaid over ten years, commercialization of air traffic control operations, investing in infrastructure, and bring back the repeal and replace Obamacare matter.
It is in the bill that ‘Congress should enact legislation that encourages able-bodied, non-elderly, non-pregnant adults without dependents to work, actively seek work, and participate in a job-training program, or do community service, in order to receive Medicaid.’ Sounds like the Clinton-Gingrich welfare to work legislation. While Medicaid primarily serves seniors, children and the disabled the bill report holds that 27% of recipients are able-bodied and putting them to work for their check saves money.
Of course, the key to success as Republicans envision it is the tax reform. What we have seen of that possible legislation is that cuts to the wealthy remain and some but not all middle class taxpayer may get a tax break. Corporations also do well.
We have said it here before that the enthusiasm Republicans feel about tax reform is that it will kick the economy into overdrive creating more jobs, putting people to work and moving towards a 3% economic growth. And as we have said before there is no evidence that tax breaks improved the economy or did so for any length of time. Reagan’s effort gave us a $300 billion deficit. GW Bush’s tax breaks (now still in effect) left us with a big chunk of the $1 trillion deficit when he left office.
Those Investigations –
The big story this week is that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation leaders; Chair Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and co-chair Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) have publicly conclude, after reviewing Facebook ads regarding the 2016 presidential election were bought by Russian operatives with the clear intent of influencing the vote.
The sticking point to connecting that conclusion to the question of whether or not Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia to influence the election is the Committees inability to interview Christopher Steele, a former British MI6 intelligence officer who produced a dossier pointing to Trump associates involvement with Russia and also suggests that Russia has quite a bit of dirt on Trump himself as a result of his visiting Russia and pursuing a business arrangement there. Steele will not come to the US to meet with the committee and cannot be subpoenaed. House Intelligence Committee co-chair has suggested going to England to interview Steele.
Not a new approach but one that has produced a straightforward bill, HR 36, passed the House this week. The bill is based on various sources that conclude that a fetus can feel pain after twenty weeks and anyone performing an abortion after that time and after exhausting all efforts to accurately determine the fetus’ age faces five years in jail and fines.
The mother would not be subject to penalties but if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest must have reported toe matter to law enforcement 48 hours before the abortion.
The road we are on.
Signing Medicare into Law
Magic Mondays – Fidget Spinners and Russia
Political ‘Education’ – Did healthcare reform work?
The Senate and House are adjourned and will return to work on Monday, October 9th. The next edition of TheWeekinCongress.com will be published Thursday evening, October 12, 2017.
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