Mary On The Senate Floor: We Don’t Have A Discretionary Spending Problem

The great thing about forcing the Senate to produce a budget is that the Democrats in that body will be forced to debate the issue. And when they debate, they say things like Mary Landrieu did during the debate of the Sandy relief bill which passed by a 62-36 vote (Louisiana’s other Senator, David Vitter, was one of the yes votes)…

The transcript…

And the reason is, is because there is a strong feeling, led by this Senator from Louisiana, to the Senators that are arguing for that position that if we want to debate about how to pay for this disaster, I will do that.

We will do 50 percent of cuts and 50 percent of revenues. But they never will offer one penny of revenues to pay for anything. And I am not budging on this point. So this amendment, if adopted, will kill this bill.

Now, I will go 50 percent revenue, $25 billion we’ll raise, $25 billion we’ll cut. But I am not going to keep cutting the discretionary budget, which by the way, is not out of control – despite what you hear on Fox News. It’s mandatory spending that is rising rapidly because the Greatest Generation, that gave us the greatest nation the world has ever heard of, is dying, and they need hospice care, they need Social Security and they need hospitals. If they want to cut them, go right ahead. I’m going to be a little more gentle.

And number two, we can do this together if we want.

This argument is not a small argument for the chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Committee and not for our colleagues.

So much to unpack here.

First, obviously, the 11-second clip where she says discretionary spending is not out of control despite what you hear on Fox News is pure gold for whomever might run against her next year. She’ll say that statement is taken out of context, and that it’s entitlement spending which is driving the deficit.

Which is what you’d expect her to say, and comparatively speaking it’s true that discretionary spending isn’t the bulk of the federal government’s spending explosion. But on the other hand, here’s a graph of how the government’s discretionary spending has grown over the last several years…

Yes, mandatory spending is rising. But do you really think there isn’t $50 billion in spending out of over a trillion dollars the federal government shells out every year that can’t be found, when – let’s face it – we’ve got to borrow every dime of the money we’re going to spending on Sandy relief?

How much of that $50 billion in savings to pay for Sandy relief could you get by cutting some of the stuff in Sen. Tom Coburn’s Wastebook?

How much if you just adopted a static baseline for next year’s discretionary spending – otherwise known as a spending freeze? Almost anybody you talk to who can count would say that if you’re running a deficit you can’t project any spending increases until you get enough revenue to pay for them, and yet in Washington that’s unheard of.

If Landrieu wants to say discretionary spending isn’t the problem but rather mandatory/entitlement spending is, what if she’d said we’ll cut $31 billion from mandatory spending (out of $2.24 trillion) and $19 billion from discretionary spending to pay for Sandy relief?

She didn’t bother to say that.

Instead, she demagogued the issue.

As a matter of information for Sen. Landrieu, the Greatest Generation has been on Social Security for more than a decade now. If you were 20 years old when World War II broke out in 1941, you started drawing Social Security in 1986. The Greatest Generation is dying off, and they’re getting cheaper and cheaper for the federal government to pay for every year.

So to pin the cost of mandatory spending on the generation who “gave us the greatest nation the world has ever heard of” is a flat-out lie. It’s baby boomers like Mary Landrieu who are going on Social Security and Medicare and blowing up entitlement spending. Baby boomers like Mary Landrieu are a little less sympathetic than the Greatest Generation, so obviously she’d rather bend the truth for a sexier argument.

As for the tax issue – didn’t we just enact one of the largest tax increases in world history less than a month ago? She wants to go back to that well?

This ought to be a pretty large-caliber bullet for Landrieu’s 2014 challenger to shoot at her. Because last night Landrieu made a fool of herself, and in so doing she proved that no serious effort at balancing the budget will get anywhere if she has anything to say about it.

UPDATE: Naturally, the state GOP didn’t miss an opportunity to rip into Landrieu for this mistake…

Yesterday, on the floor of the US Senate, Senator Mary Landrieu displayed a stunning ignorance of the fiscal reality the US Government faces.

“…I am not going to keep cutting the discretionary budget, which by the way, is not out of control – despite what you hear on Fox News,” Landrieu said from the Senate floor during the debate on the Sandy Relief bill.

“It is no wonder that the federal government can’t get its fiscal house in order when you have Senators like Mary Landrieu denying that the problem even exists,” LAGOP Chairman Roger Villere said. “It is time for the US Senate to act in a fiscally responsible manner. Fox News didn’t cause our fiscal crisis. It was Mary Landrieu and her friends who created this mess.”

While discretionary spending has grown 40 percent since 2002 and continues to grow, Landrieu stated she will refuse to cut the discretionary budget.

“Mary has been a member of the US Senate for over 15 years,” Villere said. “It has been four years since the Senate passed a budget. The last time the Democrat-controlled US Senate passed a budget, the iPad hadn’t even been invented.”

“Getting America’s fiscal house in order should be the number one goal for all of Congress,” Villere said. “2014 can’t come soon enough for Louisiana. We need a Senator who will do what it takes to balance our budget instead of spouting off ignorant comments on the Senate floor. Mary Landrieu is the ‘Last Liberal Standing’ in Louisiana, but that’s about to change.”

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