ABC News had an interesting story today that demonstrates why cutting spending and balancing the federal budget is so difficult.
The story is based on an email sent out by an unnamed Democratic staff member on the Senate Appropriations Committee subcommittee that will address the Labor and Health and Human Services budget. The email set up a meeting with hundreds of lobbyists who support programs that fall within that budget and encouraged them to band together to oppose cuts to that budget. The article quotes the email as saying that “[o]ne thing everyone should be able to agree on now is that a rising tide lifts all boats,” and that a higher budget allocation “improves the chances for every stakeholder group to receive more funding.”
Don’t you just love the phrase “stakeholder group”? It aptly captures the reality of the out-of-control federal budget, where every bloated federal program is strongly supported by some interest group that has a huge stake in continuing to get funding for their pet program. And now, thanks in part to the efforts of committee staffers who in reality are beholden to those interest groups rather than to voters, legions of K Street lobbyists will be hired and funded and encouraged to band together to stoutly resist the funding cuts that are essential to restoring some form of fiscal sanity to the federal budget. The mind reels at the prospects of legions of lobbyists descending on Capitol Hill and of the legislative logrolling, campaign contributions, and stealthy cloakroom deals that will define the budgeting process during this Congress as a result.
Those of us who are interested in reducing the budget deficit and the federal debt shouldn’t kid ourselves. The people and entities who are dependent on federal programs are highly motivated, well-funded, and will do whatever they can to see that efforts to cut spending are blunted and frustrated at every turn.