Friday, 25 Nov 94 Washington, DC
1. NEWTONIAN CONGRESS ISN'T LIKELY TO WAIT FOR A CLINTON BUDGET!
Republican leaders in the House, having promised action on the 10
major legislative initiatives in "The Contract" in just 100 days,
are not expected to wait around for the President to complete his
budget request in late January. By that time, the House Budget
Committee hopes to have its own budget resolution. The starting
point will be the FY 95 Republican budget alternative drafted by
John Kasich (R-OH), who will chair the Budget Committee. Among
the provisions in the FY 95 alternative: limit the growth of NSF
to one percent LESS than inflation; freeze the overhead rate on
federally sponsored university research to 90% of current rate.
2. THE CONTRACT: ARE THEY REALLY GOING TO BRING BACK "STAR WARS"?
The first item on the list, the "Fiscal Responsibility Act," is
free. It calls for a balanced budget amendment and a line-item
veto. To balance the cost of the other nine bills, offsetting
cost cuts must be found. The Republicans estimate the offset at
$178B; the Democrats say it's more like $743B, raising fears of a
return to Stockman economics. The disagreement is due mostly to
bill number six, the "National Security Restoration Act," which
calls for "increased defense spending to maintain our credibility
around the world." Credibility, it seems, includes "deployment
at the earliest possible date of a cost-effective anti-ballistic
missile defense system." (Perhaps to guard against Scud attacks
from Canada.) The emphasis must be on "cost-effective"; there is
no breakdown, but the National Security Restoration Act is listed
as a "NO COST" initiative in the "Contract" cost estimate. Sen.
Phil Gramm (R-TX) explained that "if we stop raiding the defense
budget for non-defense items, we can fund the military we need
with roughly the same amount of money we have." He has in mind
the Technology Reinvestment Program and environmental cleanup.
3. THERE IS ALSO TALK OF CONSOLIDATING DEPARTMENTS TO SAVE MONEY!
And it's not just the Republicans doing the talking. The Clinton
Administration is thinking of a few bold moves of its own to try
and regain the initiative in "reinventing government"
(WN 10 Sep 93).
The Department of Energy seems to top everyone's hit list.
4. 100 DAYS TO TRANSFORM SOCIETY -- JUST ONE TO REFORM THE HOUSE!
"The Contract" promises that congressional reforms will be passed
on the first day of the 104th Congress. The first of the eight
reforms would require laws that apply to the rest of the country
to apply equally to Congress. Congress has justified exemptions
on constitutional grounds of separation of powers, contending its
members would otherwise be subject to pressure from the judicial
and executive branches. The reforms would also limit terms of
committee chairs, ban proxy votes on committees and require all
committee meetings to be open. The Republicans also promise to
cut the number of committees and reduce the staffs by one-third.