Sunday, March 25, 2018

Another Shoe Falls

Fears grow that Trump could ignore Congress on spending

Lawmakers and activists see warning signs that Trump officials could cut budgets by leaving federal money unspent.
I wondered if Trump would pull Nixon's trick of "sequestering" funds for a designated purpose he didn't like. There is a tension between what funding the Executive branch wants and what the Congressional Branch wants to see funded. While the Executive Branch is supposed to manage the will of Congress, there is no penalty for either exceeding funding or reduced funding for the actual program. There actually are "unfunded" programs, and perhaps Trump will minimally fund some Leftist programs. He could release $1 to Planned Parenthood and call it funded - from the executive point of view.

This is not over, so stay tuned. Trump still has cards to play.

How Trump Could Circumvent Congress On Spending By Impounding Funds

[...]There are two ways for the Trump administration to subvert Congress’s intent in appropriating. Trump could announce that he will leave congressionally appropriated funds unspent, a move that we have ti go back more than forty years to the Nixon administration to make sense of. Trump will be tempted to go this “express” route for the propaganda value of contrasting himself with the big bad allegedly “spendthrift” Congress. Moreover, from his perspective, by doing this loudly and expressly, he will direct attention to his asserted overall goal of making savings, rather than just toward his personal ideological goals of starving particular programs for funds.

However, President Nixon totally lost the battle of impoundments, creating a binding precedent. After Nixon announced the impoundments, Congress fought back by insisting on the appropriations. Nixon lost a pivotal Supreme Court case, Train v. United States. And, Congress enacted the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act. This Act required him to submit any proposals for impoundments, defined as “rescissions” and “deferrals,” for Congressional votes. This is a statutory framework that has worked well for forty years. If Trump uses it, he will win few of those necessary votes. If Trump does not use it, he is operating outside the very well-established law.
However, if this keeps the Congress Republican, he can still do it... with popular support amongst Deplorables.

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