Tag Archives: budget

Justin Amash trashes “No Budget, No Pay” as unconstitutional

Earlier this week Darryl Perry wrote here at Hammer of Truth that the No Budget, No Pay Act (H.R. 325) was an unconstitutional measure, and a sure sign of Republican weakness to boot:

The 27th Amendment reads, in part, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of the Representatives shall have intervened.”

Despite the fact that the compensation is not changing, the bill could still be unconstitutional as it alters the scheduled dates of pay, which would be “varying the compensation.” It is unlikely any of the Republicans will challenge the bill, and the Democrats reportedly see “the legislation as a white flag on the part of the GOP, something that allows Congress to skirt the debt limit issue and move on to other fiscal arguments.”

On Tuesday, Justin Amash — a second-term, libertarian-leaning, Republican Congressman from Michigan — posted his take on facebook:

I voted no on H R 325, No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill has two parts.

First, the bill suspends the debt ceiling through May 18, 2013. In other words, it allows the government to operate as though there is no debt ceiling. On May 19, the debt ceiling will automatically increase by the amount borrowed during the suspension. Because the government borrows about $4 billion per day, this bill will likely increase the debt ceiling by $400 billion or more, without any cuts or reforms to reduce future spending. see more…

( -)-(- )Comments Off

No budget, no pay? No thanks, no constitutional!

The US House of Representatives recently passed H.R.325, the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013.

The No Budget, No Pay Act passed by a vote of 285-144 with 86 Democrats joining 199 Republicans to support this measure, 33 Republicans joined 111 Democrats in opposition. Good bills are rarely passed with bipartisan support, this bill is an exception, right?

The legislation temporarily suspends the debt ceiling and states, “If by April 15, 2013, a House of Congress has not agreed to a concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2014” the payroll administrator shall hold the salary in an escrow account, which will only be given to the Representatives after a budget has been passed OR “on the last day of the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress.”

This is not a good bill. It does not actually withhold the pay of any member of Congress if a budget is not passed, it simply delays payment until a budget is passed or the term expires. It should more accurately be called the “No Budget, Delayed Pay Act of 2013.”

Aside from no doing what it claims, Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor reported on another issue with the bill. Greir wrote “It is quite possible that the ‘no pay’ part of the bill is unconstitutional.
Why is that? Because of the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, that’s why.”

The 27th Amendment reads, in part, “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of the Representatives shall have intervened.”

Despite the fact that the compensation is not changing, the bill could still be unconstitutional as it alters the scheduled dates of pay, which would be “varying the compensation.” It is unlikely any of the Republicans will challenge the bill, and the Democrats reportedly see “the legislation as a white flag on the part of the GOP, something that allows Congress to skirt the debt limit issue and move on to other fiscal arguments.”

Walter Hickey of BusinessInsider.com points out, “According to subsection (b) of section 2 of the bill, nonvoting delegates and resident commissioners will be subject to the same rules. So, despite the fact that the delegates can’t actually vote on a budget, they still will not be paid.”

It’s possible that if No Budget, No Pay is signed into law, that one of the six non-voting Delegates will file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the bill. Of course, the bill must first pass the Senate.

( -)-(- )1 comment

U.S. military spending: less people, more killer robots

At the top of the U.S. budget problem (and tied with Social Security), is the Department of Defense. It is one of the larger of spending programs in the federal budget, raking in over half a trillion per year.

Yet we rarely hear anything about cuts or austerity for the military from the media, who remains focused on lesser value programs.

Well, it turns out the military cuts last year may be a good indicator of things to come this year. From Wired:

About 80,000 Army soldiers and 20,000 Marines are getting downsized. Half of the Army’s conventional combat presence in Europe is packing up and ending its post-Cold War staycation. Replacing them, according to the $613 billion budget previewed by the Pentagon on Thursday: unconventional special-operations forces; new bombers; new spy tools; new missiles for subs; and a veritable Cylon army of drones.

This is the first of the Pentagon’s new, smaller “austerity” budgets: it’s asking Congress for $525 billion (plus $88.4 billion for the Afghanistan war), compared to a $553 billion request (plus $117 billion in war cash) last year. Only the Pentagon is emphasizing (.pdf) what the military is keeping, not what it’s cutting. That’s because congressional Republicans don’t like swallowing these cuts — and really don’t want to acquiesce to a currently-scheduled law that could tack on another $600 billion-plus to the already-scheduled, decade-long $487 billion in cuts. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is preempting the objections, promising a force that’s “smaller and leaner, but agile, flexible, ready and technologically advanced.”

That means no changes to the U.S. fleet of 11 aircraft carriers and 10 air wings, all reflecting the Obama administration’s emphasis on the western Pacific. It means leaving the nuclear triad — the bombers, subs and missiles that can end all life on earth — alone. (With one exception: the military will delay replacing the Ohio-class submarine by two years.) It means electronic weapons to jam enemy defenses and attack online networks. It means elite commando forces like the ones who just rescued two aid workers kidnapped in Somalia. And it means drones for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

If the past choices by the DoD are any indication of what’s in store for the FY2014 budget (factoring in the most recent fiscal cliff crisis). We’re going to see even further cuts to human personnel, but greater spending on drones, weaponry and technology.

We’re arming robots to the teeth, and de-emphasizing the humans who are supposed to be in charge of them, moving us one step closer to a dystopian future run by Skynet.

But rest assured, while Congress and Obama may be proposing hilariously small cuts to military spending, the average voter is far more rational.

( -)-(- )Comments Off