Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Conservative Analysis of the United States Federal Spending Authorizations

           United States President Barack Obama signed into law the bill approved by the lame duck Congress that authorizes federal spending for about $1.1 trillion.  The House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans while the Senate is controlled by Obama’s fellow liberal Democrats.  Most federal spending is authorized by the law through the end of September, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only until the end of February because of objections by conservative Republican Congressmen to Obama’s border control policy changes.  

           All federal spending authority would have terminated by the end of the year.  The legislation mostly leaves the status quo unchanged, and thus funds Obama’s federalization of health insurance (“Obamacare”) and other policies, but with several additional minor conservative victories, some of which were particularly upsetting to the Left. 

The spending authorizations continue the budget sequestration cuts that have reduced federal spending by tens of billions of dollars.  The U.S. has been spending at a pace of a trillion dollars a year since the GOP won the 2010 Congressional Elections and subsequently regained control of the House, but the pace would have been even higher without Republicans in Congress forcing Obama to compromise and cut spending.  The authorizations do not rely on any tax increases, while a separate bill also signed into law by the President extends several business and personal tax breaks that would have expired. 

The new Congress, both chambers of which will be led by Republicans, will be sworn in to office in January and have the opportunity to propose more spending restraint for the rest of the budget year and other conservative reforms within the legislation that authorizes spending.  In addition, the Congress may make use of the legislative option of spending rescissions. 

The authorizations relax a number of environmental, health and banking regulations.  On the environment, the law bars federal money to force the phase-out of incandescent light bulbs while prohibiting the listing on the Endangered Species list of an animal that would have created an impediment to industry.  In regard to health, the regulations that would have reduced the salt content of the federal funding of school lunches were weakened.  Banking regulations were eased by not requiring separate accounts for reserves for certain types of derivatives, which were a small percentage of those regulated under the onerous Sarbanes-Oxley regulation.  The authorizations also bar federal money for marijuana legalization in the District of Columbia and increase certain contribution limits for political donors.

The defense authorization requires equal treatment of victims of any past or future act of violence in the American homeland that is inspired by certain foreign terrorist organizations eligible for Purple Hearts or veterans benefits for servicemen and Medals of Freedom for civilian federal government employees with the victims of any similar acts committed abroad.  The intent was to include the acts of violent jihad on the military recruitment center in Arkansas that killed one American soldier and the Ft. Hood Massacre in Texas that killed U.S. 13 soldiers and civilian contractors, both of which occurred in 2009.  See my post last post on this subject in September of 2013, Now Is the Time for Congress to Declare the Ft. Hood Shooting an Act of War, In it, I cite my earlier posts about the Obama Administration’s failure to identify the enemy in the War on Terrorism as Islamists and the Arkansas and Ft. Hood attacks on the American homeland in particular as acts of violent jihad and thus battles of that war and the unequal treatment of the victims of violent jihad in the American homeland, even though the enemy has made the entire world, including the American homeland, its battlefield.  It is disappointing that Obama had to be forced to sign the provision through the defense authorization bill.  Conservatives should call upon the Administration to carry out the provision and award the medals and grant the benefits to the victims.

Another provision of the defense spending law authorizes the sale by the U.S. of lethal arms to the government of Ukraine.  The Obama Administration has only been providing the Ukrainian military non-lethal materiel in the face of invasion by Russia, a superpower.  

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