This week Dr. Coburn will be talking on the continuing extensions bill and his amendments to the bill.
At a cost of at least $18.1 billion to taxpayers, H.R. 4851 would extend the following federal benefits for one month, through the end of April:
• Unemployment insurance coverage;
• COBRA Assistance;
• Medicare subsidy payment rates for physicians;
• Poverty Guidelines; and
• National Flood Insurance Program.
The legislation would also provide compensation for federal employees furloughed during March 1st and 2nd as the result of Congress not being able to pass an extension in time ($1 million transfer from the Highway Trust Fund) and clarify that certain doctors in outpatient facilities are eligible for health IT payments under Medicare and Medicaid (unknown cost).
According to CBO, the cost of this bill to taxpayers would be at least $18.1 billion over ten years. Instead of including spending cuts to offset the cost of this bill, the spending is designated as “emergency” in order to allow Congress to usurp the PAYGO rules we put in place earlier this year. As such, this legislation will add another $18 billion to the current trillion-dollar deficit, despite promises to pay for all new spending this year and not add even a dime to the debt.
If Congress continues to pass extensions every 60 days, costing taxpayers $18 billion, by December we will have added another $81 billion to the deficit, and still have failed to truly address the long term problem of how to pay for providing reasonable benefits to those who need our help, so we do not continue to spend beyond our means, burdening the next generations and placing our country at a national security risk because of the large debts owed other countries.
Congress has for too long failed to prioritize national needs and instead has elected to saddle future generations of Americans with a national debt that is now greater than $12.6 trillion. The 2010 deficit is projected to amount to $1.3 trillion and we are borrowing 43 cents on every dollar; yet, Congress continues to increase spending without any correlating spending cuts.
Dr. Coburn’s amendments would offer various ways to pay for extending these important benefits to those in need without also extending an even larger burdent of debt to the next generation.
Amendment 3726— Finance Tax Offset Provisions and Rescission of Unobligated Balances
This amendment is a compilation of 8 provisions that the finance committee provided before Easter recess to offset the short term UI extension package. This offset contains a diverse and bi-partisan backed package of revenue raisers. These offsets constituted the universe from which Senate Republicans and Democrats reached a tentative agreement to offset a short term UI extension, only to have it scuttled by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats. In addition, this amendment would rescind $10 billion unspent, unobligated federal funding.
Click here for additional background.
Amendment 3723— Rescinding $20 Billion in Unobligated Balances
This amendment would rescind $20 billion in unobligated federal funding to fully pay for the 30 day extension of federal benefits and payments provided by H.R.4851, the Continuing Extension Act of 2010. Federal agencies ended Fiscal Year 2009 with nearly $1 trillion of unobligated funds, according to the OMB. In FY 2009, the federal government held $921.8 billion in unspent funds and OMB estimates that this amount will exceed $600 billion in FY 2010 and 2011. Simply put, Congress is approving increases in government funding faster than bureaucrats can spend it!
Click here for additional background. Click here for amendment text.
Amendment 3727— Spending Reductions Offset
This amendment fully offset the cost of H.R. 4851 by rescinding spending, repealing less important programs, and enacting good government reforms. This amendment contains 14 different spending offset and an additional 8 finance offsets that, in total, pay for the entire cost of this extension bill.
This is its fifth short-term extension in the last sixth months
• H.R. 4851: Currently before the Senate, a one-month extension of Unemployment Insurance, Cobra, Physician payments, and other subsidies. Total cost: $9.2 billion
• A message to H.R. 2847: On March 18, 2010, the President signed the Hire Act, which included a 9 month extension for transportation. Total cost of this extension: $47 billion
• H.R. 4691: On March 2, 2010, the President signed a similar one-month extension of Unemployment Insurance, Cobra, Physician payments, and other subsidies. Total cost: $10.3 billion
• H.R. 3326, Division B: On December 19, 2009, the President signed a two-month extension included in the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill which covers all the programs extended in H.R. 4851 and surface transportation. Total cost: $18.57 billion
• H.R. 3357: On August 7, 2009, the President signed a bill transferring $7 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to cover a shortfall and $7.9 billion for Unemployment insurance. Total cost of these provisions: $14.9 billion
• Congress also passed two continuing resolutions (H.R. 2918 and H.R. 2996) which did not include additional spending beyond the Budget Resolution levels.
Pay-Go Has Been Ignored
On February 12, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010. The basic principle of PAYGO is that any new spending or tax relief should be offset with equal reductions in spending or increases in taxes in order to not increase the deficit.
Yet, in the less than two months since then, the Senate has ignored its own budget rules four times and spent $120 billion, which was not paid for, violating the spirit of PAYGO.
• On February 24, 2010 – The Senate voted to waive budget point of order against “jobs” bill.
• On March 17, 2010 – The same bill was considered slightly altered on March 17th, 2010, and the Senate voted 64-34 to waive another budget point order.
• On March 2, 2010, the Senate failed to comply with PAYGO when it approved H.R. 4691.
• On March 3, 2010, the Senate voted 60-37 to waive PAYGO on the tax extenders bill (H.R. 4213), and add nearly $100 billion to the deficit over the next ten years.
In the last two years, the Senate has passed three “emergency” bills costing a total of $62 billion to extend the Highway Trust Fund and three bills to extend emergency unemployment benefits at a total cost of more than $28 billion. None of these funds are offset.
Congress Can Offset Spending if It Wants To
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey and House Democrats almost unanimously voted to use stimulus funds to offset $600 million for “summer employment programs for youth” and $60 million for small business initiatives already offset in other legislation passed by the Senate.
The Senate and House already passed an offset for the small business programs using funds identified by the Small Business Administration as available within their budget and for the Cash-for-Clunkers extension, the Democrats found $2 billion in unused Stimulus Funds for the Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program to pay for the extension.
If Congress can vote to offset a $600 million appropriation for “summer employment programs for youth,” they can certainly offset $9 billion for un- and underemployed Americans in need of assistance.