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Tom M.
Republican CA 4

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  • The Wrong Direction

    by Representative Tom McClintock

    Posted on 2014-01-15

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    McCLINTOCK. Mr. Speaker, the House is scheduled to take up the omnibus appropriations bill for 2014, and I rise this morning to outline my objections to this measure.

    This is not the ``regular order'' promised to the American people in which each of the 12 appropriations bills is painstakingly vetted. It is all 12 bills rolled into one, with no opportunity for meaningful debate or amendment. True, it adheres to the budget that was passed in December, but that budget is nothing to brag about. That budget destroyed the only meaningful constraint on Federal spending that we have.

    One Member said he is surprised by opposition because ``this bill, for the 4th year in a row, cuts discretionary spending.'' Well, it only cuts it by Washington math. Last year, the discretionary spending of the United States Government was $986 billion. The measure appropriates $1,012 billion. That is an increase. And it is $45 billion more than the sequester would have allowed. After all, they didn't blow the lid off the sequester because they wanted to cut spending, now did they? So what is this money going for? Well, it increases money for Head Start by $600 million, despite the fact that every credible study has concluded that this program provides no lasting benefit for children; It continues wasteful TIGER grants, which, under the guise of transportation, puts money into projects like a 6-mile pedestrian mall in Fresno and streets that actually discourage automobile traffic; [[Page H233]] It continues funding for the scandalous essential air service that pays to fly empty and near-empty planes across the country; It continues to throw money at all manner of expensive and failed green energy programs and other forms of corporate welfare.

    We are told to be grateful that it doesn't fund other wasteful programs, like high-speed rail. But when we vote for these appropriations, we are responsible for the money that we waste, not the money that we don't waste. The regular order would at least give the House a chance to examine and debate these questionable programs before we cast our vote. But not this process.

    But do not believe for a moment they won't be debated after we have cast our votes. This measure will face the full light of public scrutiny in the days ahead, and that may prove to be very harsh, indeed.

    {time} 1030 True, the measure makes some cuts, but in many cases it makes the wrong cuts.

    For example, although this bill reverses the cuts made to disabled military veterans' pensions, it maintains the pension reductions for all other military veterans--about 82 percent of our military retirees. According to published reports, over a 20-year period a retired enlisted servicemember will lose an average of $72,000 of promised pension payments and commissioned officers will lose $124,000.

    The Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or PILT, is not funded at all. That is the program that makes up a small portion of the revenues that the Federal Government has cost our rural communities as it has appropriated vast tracts of their land.

    To add insult to injury, this bill adds roughly $200 million to pay for more Federal land grabs, which will cost local communities still more of their local revenues and economic activity.

    We are promised that PILT funding will be restored in the farm bill, which is little consolation. That is the bill that continues to provide massive subsidies to agribusiness at the expense of both taxpayers and consumers.

    I am not unmindful of the challenges that faced the Appropriations Committee--not the least of which is that the measure must ultimately have the consent of the Senate and the President, which are responsible for the most fiscally irresponsible period of our Nation's history. I understand that.

    Under our Constitution, a dollar cannot be spent by this government unless the House says it gets spent. The buck literally starts here. As long as we continue to increase spending on frivolous programs at the expense of working families, and at a time when our accumulated debt threatens to sink what is left of our economy, we are clearly moving this Nation in the wrong direction.

    I appreciate the fact this is a bipartisan agreement, but a bipartisan agreement that moves our country in the wrong direction is still wrong.

    With all due respect, I must dissent.


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