efore Congress left town
for its August recess,
the House and Senate
passed a much-cele-brated budget deal.
The implication was that members of Congress (who no longer
seem to care about the deficit or
debt) and President Trump (who
never cared about it at all), struck
a deal that settled all spending decisions for the next two years.
But as with most things in
Washington, things are not what
they seem at first glance.
Yes, the deal sets spending limits for the next two years and raises the debt ceiling for the same
amount of time. The debt limit increase was needed to ensure that
the federal government doesn’t
default on its obligations.
But that’s all this so-called big
Some said it appeared the deal
would help avoid another government shutdown.
When Congress returns, the
House and Senate still must decide how much each federal program will receive for FY20.
For instance, how much will the
Community Development Financial Institutions program receive
in the next fiscal year?
Trump wants to kill the program,
but Congress has made it clear that’s
not going to happen. Even Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin seemed
resigned to the program continuing, telling a House appropriations
subcommittee that the administration might have to reevaluate its
opposition in light of widespread
support on Capitol Hill.
What about Pell Grants?
Or Community Development
Or defense programs?
Yeah, and what about THAT
So far, the House has passed 10
of its 12 funding measures, with
several of them combined into
one bill. The Senate has not start-
ed its appropriations process, and
is presumably waiting for the bud-
get deal to divide up the money
for the appropriations bills.
So, the big – and small – deci-
sions are far from being made,
and the possibility still remains
that Congress and the president
won’t agree on funding those pro-
grams by the end of the fiscal year
on Sept. 30 and much of the gov-
ernment could shut down again.
Of course, the NCUA won’t
shut down because credit unions
fund it and the CFPB won’t close
up shop because it gets its money
from the Federal Reserve.
But the threat of a government
shutdown still looms large.
Still, some important decisions
appear to have been made. For in-
stance, it looks like the appropria-
tions bills are unlikely to contain
any “poison pill” legislative riders.
House Republicans were no-
torious for trying to loan up the
Financial Services funding mea-
sure with a bunch of provisions
attempting to rein in one of their
favorite targets – the CFPB.
Every time they did that, Senate
Republicans roundly rejected them.
This year, since Democrats con-
trol the House, the House-passed
Financial Services funding bill
doesn’t include that language.
This year, the Appropriations
Committee report on the Finan-
cial Services funding measure
merely states, “The Committee di-
rects the CFPB to take aggressive
action to protect consumers and
thoroughly assess any potential
changes in CFPB rules and regu-
lations to ensure that consumers
are not unduly harmed.”
Nothing too objectionable, but
still likely to be dropped when
the final Financial Services bill is
About That Budget Deal
Way back in 1997, Republicans
were deficit hawks and Democrats resisted cutting spending too
much for their favorite programs.
Still, the two sides, after a great
deal of fighting, produced a deal
that pretty much balanced the
federal budget, a goal that bud-geteers said was necessary for the
economic health of the nation.
That kind of thinking appears to
have been abandoned. This year’s
budget deal was passed by a wide
margin in the House and Senate.
Even before the deal was
reached, the Congressional Bud-
get Office reported the federal
deficit for FY19 was $896 billion.
If a balanced budget was needed
for the fiscal health of the nation,
wouldn’t an $896 billion deficit
place the country on life support?
Apparently not, according to
Congress, which seems to have
decided that fiscal restraint is no
Cruel and Unusual?
Remember Tony Georgiton?
Probably not. You’d have no
reason to recall him.
He’s the taxi broker who is accused of bribing former Melrose
Credit Union President/CEO Alan
Kaufman in exchange for lots of
Well, he and Kaufman are out
on bail and their travel is restricted. Any travel must be approved
by a federal judge.
Which brings us to the unique
request Georgiton made recently.
It seems Georgiton is a lifelong fan
of the New York Jets – a National
Football League team, for the
Years ago, Georgiton filed an
application for season tickets to
the Jets games, which are played
at MetLife Stadium in East Ruth-
erford, N.J., according to docu-
ments filed by his attorneys in
Georgiton finally got his tickets
in 2009 and has attended almost
all of the games with his son, his
The problem is that Georgiton
lives in New York, and the Jets, despite their name, play their games
in New Jersey.
And so, Georgiton asked U.S.
District Judge Lewis Kaplan to
leave his home in New York, travel
to the stadium, watch the game
and return home.
Kaplan agreed, although it appears to me that agreeing to the
trips might violate federal law.
After all, the Jets’ record last
season was 4-12.
Now, this year, the Jets have new
uniforms and made some off-season moves in an effort to improve
that record. Still, nobody’s predicting a total turnaround for the team
during the upcoming season.
Seems to me that allowing
Georgiton to go to the Jets games
might be considered cruel and
unusual punishment. n
Budget Deal Leaves Unanswered Questions
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