Legislative Lowdown: Obama’s creative budget math

Brian Darling Liberty Government Affairs
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President Barack Obama would have you believe that he is the stingiest president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. Where does he get the audacity to claim that his out-of-control spending, including a massive spike in 2009 spending, equals anything other than a spending spree? Rex Nutting of MarketWatch provides the cover story.

Nutting writes that “in the 2009 fiscal year — the last of George W. Bush’s presidency — federal spending rose by 17.9% from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion.” In most years, attributing the spending of one president to the next president would be fair, because spending bills are supposed to be put to bed by October 1st of the prior year. Yet, with the Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations measures the majority of the bills were not approved until President Obama signed them on March 11, 2009.

Sometimes the facts get in the way of a good talking point, because President Bush issued a veto threat on the FY 2009 omnibus spending bill, yet Nutting attributed that spending to Bush. Congressional Democrats delayed consideration of the FY 2009 spending bills until after Obama’s inauguration.

In another gimmick, Nutting attributes TARP outlays to Bush but counts the money coming back in as spending cuts for Obama.

The only way you can claim that big-government Obama is thrifty is by using some Obama Math.

American sovereignty at risk

The Senate conducted a hearing on the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) this past week. Many expect Senate Democrats to hold off on passage of this treaty until the lame-duck session after the fall elections. Republican support is necessary, because it takes a two-thirds vote to pass any treaty. Conservatives argue that the treaty will adversely impact American sovereignty and empower the United Nations to impose taxes and global-warming regulations on the U.S. Nevertheless, it will be tough for conservatives to prevent LOST from being ratified.

The unconstitutional Violence Against Women Act has been stalled

Last week, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) stalled; constitutional conservatives cheered.

The Senate had passed a VAWA containing an expanded provision of immigrant visas that violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution. According to Article I, Sec. 7 of the Constitution, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.” The Senate’s immigration provision raises revenue. The House passed a different version of the VAWA that did not include the revenue-raising provision. The House bill also excluded provisions benefitting same-sex couples and expanding authority for tribal courts to prosecute individuals who are not members of a tribe.

According to Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), the whole idea of the VAWA is unconstitutional because the United States Congress has no business dealing with issues that are in the proper purview of the states.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has hit a roadblock because he is insisting on the Senate’s immigration provision remaining in the bill when the Senate and House go to conference. Republicans in the Senate are blocking Reid from passing yet another VAWA.

Expect more talk about the fake “War on Women” before these politicians hold hands and pass another unconstitutional law.

Student loans

Expect the debate on student loans to extend for a few weeks. This past week, the Senate voted down two versions of legislation to keep student loans at 3.4%. A Republican package paid for the estimated $6 billion-a-year cost of keeping these government loans arbitrarily low by taking money out of an Obamacare slush fund. The Republican approach failed 34-62.

A Democratic bill paid for the loans with a tax increase on small businesses. This bill also violated the Constitution’s Origination Clause, but Democrats just don’t seem to care. The Democratic bill failed 51-43, with 60 votes needed for passage.

Expect President Obama to blame Republicans for not allowing the bill to pass.

Conservatives are dead-set against tax increases. They will not allow taxes to go up to pay for any new spending proposed by President Obama and his allies in Congress.

Second Amendment protection

Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) introduced and passed a pro-Second Amendment piece of legislation as an amendment to an appropriations bill. The Moran Amendment will protect Americans from international gun-grabbers by preventing the United States from signing and ratifying the U.N. Arms Treaty.

Three cheers to Senator Moran for standing up for the natural right to keep and bear arms.

Brian Darling is the senior fellow for government studies at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).