Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), along side of Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), has been somebody within the Senate Democratic Caucus that I’ve had respect for, even though I don’t agree with him much of the time. He doesn’t seem overtly partisan. He’s intelligent and reasonable. Perhaps that has to do with the fact he was a Democratic Governor of a red-leaning state before he was a Senator. While I wouldn’t call him a Bluedog Democrat, he is definitely in the center. I was disappointed, but not surprised, when he voted for the Porkulus bill.
Today he reminded me why I like him. In an op/ed in the Wall Street Journal he called on his fellow Democrats to vote no on The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009.
This week, the United States Senate will vote on a spending package to fund the federal government for the remainder of this fiscal year. The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 is a sprawling, $410 billion compilation of nine spending measures that lacks the slightest hint of austerity from the federal government or the recipients of its largess.
The Senate should reject this bill. If we do not, President Barack Obama should veto it.
The omnibus increases discretionary spending by 8% over last fiscal year’s levels, dwarfing the rate of inflation across a broad swath of issues including agriculture, financial services, foreign relations, energy and water programs, and legislative branch operations. Such increases might be appropriate for a nation flush with cash or unconcerned with fiscal prudence, but America is neither.
Drafted last year, the bill did not pass due to Congress’s long-standing budgetary dysfunction and the frustrating delays it yields in our appropriations work. Since then, economic and fiscal circumstances have changed dramatically, which is why the Senate should go back to the drawing board. The economic downturn requires new policies, not more of the same.
Our nation’s current fiscal imbalance is unprecedented, unsustainable and, if unaddressed, a major threat to our currency and our economic vitality. The national debt now exceeds $10 trillion. This is almost double what it was just eight years ago, and the debt is growing at a rate of about $1 million a minute.
Washington borrows from foreign creditors to fund its profligacy. The amount of U.S. debt held by countries such as China and Japan is at a historic high, with foreign investors holding half of America’s publicly held debt. This dependence raises the specter that other nations will be able to influence our policies in ways antithetical to American interests. The more of our debt that foreign governments control, the more leverage they have on issues like trade, currency and national security. Massive debts owed to foreign creditors weaken our global influence, and threaten high inflation and steep tax increases for our children and grandchildren.
The solution going forward is to stop wasteful spending before it starts. Families and businesses are tightening their belts to make ends meet — and Washington should too. (read the rest)
Good for you Senator Bayh!
Update: The Swamp notes that this “provides fresh ammunition to Republicans who’ve been near unanimous in denouncing the bill.”
Update 2: Politico is reporting that there is a group of 15 (14 Democrats and Senator Lieberman) are meeting to see how they as centrists can assert more leverage on the major policy debates. This is good news for the GOP I think.
Update 3: Not surprisingly this group of 15 are now being labeled right wing by the far left.
Update 4: Apparently the U.S. is burning.