Tags: Eliminate | Budget | Filibuster | Rules

Eliminate the Budget Filibuster Rules First

Eliminate the Budget Filibuster Rules First
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By Monday, 03 April 2017 12:54 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Congress primarily collects taxes, borrows money, and then spends all of it getting themselves reelected.

The consequences being that the taxpayers and the economy suffer under an incomprehensible tax code and out of control governmental spending.

The voters want change. 

Congress understands that the tax law operates as the mechanism to raise a goodly chunk of the money that it spends.

Not all.  Not by a long shot.

Virtually 100% of the tax revenues are spent on four items in the federal budget—interest on the debt, defense, Social Security, and Medicare.

Everything else the government spends money on is with borrowed dollars. If it buys a roll of toilet paper for use in White House, it borrows the money to pay for it.

In past years, it did not matter whether it was the Republicans or the Democrats that controlled Congress. Every year, every Congress spent more money than the previous year.

Up to now, there was no will in Congress to change its tax and spend policies regardless of which party was supposedly in power.

The government’s financial operation is controlled by a bizarre Congressional legislative process that is centered around creating a theoretical budget.

It’s all just a ruse. There really is no budget that would be recognizable under commonly acceptable financial standards.

Budgeted spending by the government can be divided into three baskets.

First are non-nondiscretionary budget items which automatically include spending increases. Congress sees that any change is verboten.

Second are the discretionary spending items which are everything else the government does.  In effect, these are also automatic. On the rare occasion there is a change in a spending program, it is merely for propaganda purposes and has no meaningful impact. 

These non-discretionary and discretionary spending items together form what is referred to as the budget. Right now, it is about $3.7 trillion.

But, there is the third basket of spending which is off-budget. This is the spending where the Congress wants to give the illusion that they are not spending money when they are.

This is done by getting non-government entities to provide loans with the government providing the guarantee of payment.

This way Congress can continue the subterfuge that the debt of the government is $20 trillion when it’s more like $60 trillion.

No doubt some public policy think-tank has a more accurate computation of this.

The budget process is enormously complicated which has evolved into an elaborate political performance. Congress intends to give the voters the impression that they are seriously considering the fiscal needs and priorities of the country.

It’s a byzantine process that ultimately comes down to whether the appropriation bills will be able to pass muster in the Senate and avoid a filibuster.

A potential Senate filibuster can be avoided by way of a reconciliation instruction passed as part of a budget resolution.

If some piece of legislation can fall within this exception to the filibuster rule and can comply with the Senate Byrd Rule, then a simple majority vote in the Senate is all that is needed for passage.

But Senate Byrd Rule operates to prohibit the use of the reconciliation process where the proposed change would increase the deficit without an offset that reduces spending.

Since the budget already has mandatory spending items that take 100% of tax revenue, virtually any reform which involves taxes or spending is going to be subject to the Byrd Rule and the Senate filibuster.

Which is why nothing is ever reformed.

The recent brouhaha over repealing Obamacare is a prime example of this.

For those who want to cut taxes and governmental spending, the current budget process means that unless the reformers have majority control of the House and a 60% majority control in the Senate, then reform is dead on arrival.

The Republicans were given the majority control in the House and Senate by the voters because they want to change. The President is eager to accommodate these voters.

If the Republicans are committed to reforming the tax system, balancing the budget, and other long overdue reforms, then the Senate budget filibuster rules have to be eliminated first.

Denis Kleinfeld is known as a strategic tax and wealth protection lawyer, widely published author and creative teacher.

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Congress primarily collects taxes, borrows money, and then spends all of it getting themselves re-elected.
Eliminate, Budget, Filibuster, Rules
Monday, 03 April 2017 12:54 PM
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