3/17/2005

More fiscal insanity...

From the WaPo:
By the narrowest of margins, the Senate protected one of President Bush's top priorities on Wednesday by rejecting a drive by Democrats and moderate Republicans to make it tougher to approve future tax cuts. The 50-50 vote -- one shy of the majority needed -- averted a major headache for congressional leaders and avoided a replay of the embarrassing setback they suffered a year ago. Then, the Republican-run Congress failed to complete a budget because the Senate approved the tax-cut limitations and the more conservative House refused to go along. Advocates of restricting new tax reductions had hoped to gain supporters because of the government's dismal fiscal situation, which has seen two consecutive federal deficits with little relief in sight. Last year's shortfall hit $412 billion. "They have become openly hostile to balancing the budget," one sponsor, Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., said of GOP leaders. "Openly hostile to anything that gets in the way of tax cuts, regardless of what the consequences are for our budget or the economy. That's a sad moment."

And from Al-Jazeera:
The House voted 388-43 for the bill that includes a measure rejecting Bush's plan to use part of the money to build an embassy in Iraq, potentially delaying construction. "The bill involves sizable amounts of money designed essentially to support our troops wherever they may be but especially in the Middle East," said House Appropriations Committee chairman Jerry Lewis, a California Republican. If approved, the bill would bring to almost $300 billion the amount Congress has authorised in emergency war spending since US-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003. The bulk of the funds - $77 billion - would cover defence costs to help pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That money, $1.8 billion more than Bush asked for, would be used to buy new weapons, body armour and medical supplies for troops. Democrats largely supported the Republican-written bill but said Congress was not providing enough oversight of how the money was being spent. They cited a military audit released on Monday that said leading US defence contractor Halliburton, once headed by Vice-President Dick Cheney, may have overcharged the US government by more than $100 million under a no-bid oil deal in Iraq.

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