The Corner

No More Budget Gimmicks? No, Just More Spending

After going after the Bush administration for its use of supplemental bills to fund the war in Iraq, after talking about transparency and accountability, and after saying that the era of budget gimmicks was over, the Obama administration has formally asked Congress to approve $108 billion in supplemental funding for the International Monetary Fund as part of its strategy to stabilize global financial markets. And this comes on top of the $83.4 billion that the White House sought last month to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the remainder of fiscal 2009, as well as aid to Pakistan and other foreign-assistance initiatives, and the $1.5 billion he subsequently requested to address the swine flu outbreak.

I wished — but never believed — that we would see an end to the abusive use of the supplemental process with Obama. But why would he? Supplemental spending allows the administration and Congress to pile spending on top of the rest of his requested spending without having to offset it since it doesn’t count against the budget caps — especially if it has an “emergency” label. I predict that this administration will not only finance the wars through emergency bills, but it will also shove as much non-defense spending as it can get away with through the process.

For more on the problems with the supplemental spending and how it has become a tool of choice in Washington D.C. to increase spending, you can read this study.

Also, according to Congressional Quarterly:

Moreover, in the supplemental request, the White House is asking that the size of the request be scored to reflect the small risk of default, which would make it appear far lower than $100 billion. The funding “is equivalent, in some respects, to credit activity with very small risk,” the president said in his letter to Congress, describing its scoring approach.

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