Another Week, Another Stalemate

Ho hum.  If it’s Monday, there must be another political stalemate in Washington, D.C., and another possible government shutdown looming.

The contours of this dispute are familiar.  Federal funds are running out and a short-term spending bill must be passed.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency also needs more money.  As a matter of fiscal discipline, Republicans insist that the increased funding for FEMA should be offset by cuts elsewhere.  House Republicans passed a bill that would make $1.6 billion in offsetting cuts that target the Department of Energy’s Advanced technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which makes loans to car companies to pay for things such as factory upgrades and the development of new, green, fuel efficient technology.  Senate Democrats object and argue that the cuts to the DOE program would cost up to 10,000 jobs.

I’m with the Republicans on this one.  Congress can always find an emergency to justify more spending.  If we don’t make cuts to compensate, spending will just spiral even more out of control.  Moreover, the DOE program sounds like a classic federal boondoggle.  If market forces make better fuel efficiency important to car buyers, car makers will have plenty of incentive to spend their own money to achieve better fuel efficiency.  And haven’t we done more than enough for auto companies lately, with the taxpayer-financed bailouts of GM and Chrysler?  We need to curb our appetite for ever-increasing spending, and curtailing programs that subsidize big auto companies seems like a good place to start.

For all of their protestations about being serious about restraining spending, Senate Democrats apparently are unable to identify even $1.6 billion in spending “cuts.”  Doesn’t that say something about how serious they really are?

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