May 09, 2018

Rescission Theater

Republicans want to pretend that “cutting” $15 billion makes them fiscal conservatives again

by Chris Thomas

Just a little cut. Photo by Steve Johnson

Rescission is the word of the week in Washington. The Rescission process allows the President to request that Congress slash funding from agencies and programs which are not using that funding. It only sounds weird; it’s business as usual in D.C.

To put all of this in perspective, the Trump Administration is asking Congress to strip about $15 billion in funding, allocated by the omnibus spending bill, that agencies can’t spend. The Washington Post has a pretty great listing of some examples:

  • $4,000,000,000 in funding for a loan program for fuel efficient cars… now that the loan program is no longer making new loans.
  • $107,000,000 in to finance a matching funds program for Hurricane Sandy aid… local governments aren’t willing to put up their half of the cash.
  • $252,000,000 in containment funding for the Ebola outbreak in central Africa.. which has been pretty well contained since 2015.
  • $7,000,000,000 in expired funds and another $2 billion for a “rainy day fund” for the (State) Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Of these the CHIP cuts are the ones that have raised the biggest alarm among Democrats though, as the Daily Caller points out, Democrats have had no problems supporting the rescission of CHIP funds before.

Truth be told, direct consequences of the cuts are very hard to pin down. Democrats do themselves and their constituents a disservice by pretending otherwise — that these cuts can be tied directly to lost services or sick children. They can’t be, and the broad consensus among bi-partisan groups is that these funds not only won’t be spent by the CHIP program, they can’t be either. These funds can and should be pulled from their attendant agencies as part of the ordinary process of Washington budgetary policy.

Rather than making a public fuss opposing these measures, Democrats should be calling attention to precisely how unremarkable and small scale they really are. $15 billion is a lot of money but taken alongside the 100 times larger _$1.5 trillion* Republican tax cut, it’s chump change. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget puts the cost of the GOP tax cut between $1.6 trillion and $2 trillion. To put it another way, for every dollar of your money the GOP just gave away to corporations and the upper 1%, they’re cutting just _one penny of spending*.

By lining up to oppose this, Democrats allow Republicans to cast themselves as crusaders for fiscal responsibility when, in truth, their record shows them to be anything but.

Tell Congress What You Think

Cuts to CHIP are never easy to stomach but the policies and procedures involved here make these cuts sting a lot less than you might expect. Still, Congress has a bad record on funding CHIP. You can tell your Members of Congress about this or any other issue by texting RESISTto 50409. Or, if SMS isn’t your style, you can contact your government by talking to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or Twitter.

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