Congress’s Final Fiscal Folly

Thankfully, the Hastert led Congress will not be in power after this year so that it cannot do more of this:

In its last hours of GOP control, Congress passed a raft of bills big and small, most significantly a sweeping bill reviving expired tax breaks, extending trade benefits for developing countries and protecting doctors from a big cut in Medicare payments.

The CNN headline says Congress finished with a flourish. Pretending to cut taxes as Congress insures its increases in entitlement will be large. Pathetic or just for the course? There may be a few fiscal conservatives in the Congress but the story notes:

The legislation was bundled and sent to the Senate for a single vote, and its popularity easily vanquished a handful of GOP opponents. Republican budget hawks bridled at the measure’s cost, and textile state senators objected to trade provisions benefiting Haiti. The sweeping votes reflected widespread bipartisan support for extending expired tax breaks, including the research and development tax credit for businesses, sales tax deductions for people in states without income taxes, the tax deduction on college tuition, a tax credit for hiring welfare recipients and others facing difficulties finding jobs, tax credits for alternative energy producers and purchases of solar energy equipment by homeowners and businesses.

Yes, free lunch fiscal policy is popular and there aren’t enough leaders in the Democratic Party who are willing to say no. I hope this changes when Nancy Pelosi becomes the Speaker because I see this as an opportunity:

But Republicans dumped an unfinished budget on the Democrats about to take power, with the Senate barely meeting a midnight deadline to pass a stopgap spending bill putting the government on autopilot until February 15. The failure to pass budget bills for domestic agencies, said Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, amounted to “a blatant admission of abject failure by the most useless Congress in modern times.”

Irresponsible? Yes. But now that the Democrats are about to gain control of Congress, my hope is that Speaker Pelosi sits down with the true fiscal conservatives in the GOP and the Blue Dog Democrats to figure out where some of the pork can be sliced out of these bills.