Government Shutdown
There is a need to pass a bill extending routine government funding after a stopgap bill expires March 27. Without an extension, a partial government shutdown would occur. Congress must pass this spending bill, called a continuing resolution or “CR,” which would continue spending after Sept. 30, 2013, the end of the 2013 fiscal year. As it stands now, the government’s legal authority to borrow more money runs out in mid-October, 2013. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, if that date arrived on October 18, the Treasury “would be about $106 billion short of paying all bills owed between October 18 and November 15. The congressionally mandated limit on federal borrowing is currently set at $16.7 trillion. The debt limit has been raised 13 times since 2001 and has grown from about 55 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2001 to 102 percent of GDP last year.

The Guns and Butter Budget

2/9/18
from The Wall Street Journal,
2/7/18:

Democrats exact a high price for agreeing to boost the military.

Congress announced the outline of a two-year bipartisan budget deal on Wednesday, and no doubt Members want to avoid another pointless government shutdown. The deal has the virtue of starting to fix a weakening military. But the delusion is that the U.S. can continue to deny the trade-off between guns and butter, or defense and the entitlement state.

First, the good news: The budget outline would lift defense spending by $80 billion in fiscal 2018 and $85 billion in 2019, honoring a central GOP campaign promise. This busts the “sequester caps” that forced useful restraint on domestic accounts for a few years but damaged the military and did nothing on entitlements.

Military leaders have all but invaded Capitol Hill to say that unreliable and lower funding has eroded readiness in every area from aircraft to munitions.

On the long list of the Democratic haul: An additional four-year extension for the children’s health insurance program, or CHIP, which was recently extended for six years. That means 10 more years of a separate health program for children, though many Democrats said that ObamaCare would provide affordable coverage that would make the CHIP program unnecessary. Now we get both for the long run. Speaker Paul Ryan noted in a press-release pitch that the GOP steered some of the funding toward Republican priorities, including maintenance backlogs at veterans hospitals. Also $2 billion for research at the National Institutes of Health, and a better flu vaccine is looking like a good idea this month. Add to this about $90 billion in disaster relief. That money to rebuild Texas, Florida and other areas would have been whooped through Congress sooner or later, even if plenty of it is sure to be wasted. The deal also includes $6 billion for the opioid crisis, though it’s hardly clear that communities or the health-care system are prepared to absorb more cash.

One good development is that Republicans managed to include the repeal of ObamaCare’s Independent Advisory Payment Board, known as IPAB. The Obama central planners created this panel of bureaucrats to impose price controls on Medicare and it represents everything Americans hate about the Affordable Care Act: political rationing over individual choice.

The larger fiscal reality is the continuing failure to reform entitlements, which absorb an ever-rising share of GDP and federal budget and present the true threat to national defense. President Obama blocked reform, and then the GOP missed the best chance in a generation to fix Medicaid by replacing the Affordable Care Act. The politics of reforming that entitlement is easy compared with Medicare and Social Security.

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