It’s a time honored American tradition. Every July Fourth, friends and families gather together for hot dogs and beer, flags and fireworks. But imagine if you went to an Independence Day gathering this year where things seemed a little bit … off.
The hot dogs are only half cooked and about a third their normal length, and essential condiments like ketchup, mustard and relish are nowhere to be found. Also mysteriously missing are about two dozen stars on all the American flags. There are also some unusual additions that guests certainly wouldn’t have wanted if there had been transparency and time to weigh in—for example, the fireworks are laced with radioactive uranium – and are exploding dangerously close to the on-looking crowds.
This bizarre and disturbing Independence Day celebration is roughly analogous to what’s happening to the federal budget process, currently working its way through Congress’s appropriations subcommittees in advance of a deadline of September 30th (where we run out funding.)
In this year’s process, lawmakers are proposing deep cuts to essential government services on ideological grounds, and many are also insisting on adding harmful and inappropriate riders that don’t belong in a budget bill. Really basic things that need to be included are missing, and unpopular poison pill policies that shouldn’t be included at all have hitched a ride without a regular order vote.
The problem of ideological policy additions was illustrated clearly in the House side’s financial services and general government appropriations bill, which passed out of subcommittee just before the beginning of the holiday weekend. The legislation – which is supposed to fund watchdog agencies such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – was packed with special favors for corporate interests.
Some examples of the poison pills attached to this legislation are those that: would stop the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from requiring publicly traded corporations to disclose secret political spending to investors; would continue to allow forced arbitration clauses in consumer contracts, which let corporations rip off consumers with impunity; would repeal the ability of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to address practices that it finds unfair, deceptive or abusive; would block the use of funds derived from federal sources, including the Affordable Care Act, from covering abortion services, and there are many more.
This bill is just one of the 12 appropriations bills with similarly absurd provisions and funding cuts. The must-pass budget legislation has been hijacked by corporations and ideological extremists to serve their own interests at the expense of workers, consumer and families. It’s unpatriotic and profound betrayal of the American people.
Just as July Fourth is supposed to be about our nation’s independence, the appropriations process is supposed to be about our nation’s priorities. Lawmakers who sing the praises of the American people during the holiday, but sell us out when they return to Washington have the wrong ones.
This Independence Day, we should to be able to trust in our politician to create a budget that is free from poison pill policy riders and serves the American people.