Today's House Vote on PNTR with China: What does it tell
us about American politics?
stands for permanent normal trade
pledges to open further its markets to more U.S.
US would end the annual congressional review of
China's trading status
US would facilitate China's entry into the World
- Who is
for its passage in the House?
presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and George
presidential candidate, George W. Bush
Republican leaders in the House
of the business community
of the agricultural leaders
- Who is
against its passage in the House?
minority leader in the House, Democrat Dick
of organized labor
human rights groups
Reform Party presidential candidate, Pat
Green Party presidential candidate, Ralph
79% of the American electorate, according to one
- Who is
straddling the fence?
and Democratic presidential candidate, Al Gore
this vote in terms of
in the sense of statesmanship
evaluation of their government
of the US budgetary process
action on the budget begins when the President submits
his budget to Congress.
president's budget is a huge document more than 1,500
pages long this year, and it is accompanied by a
series of requests for appropriations for different
to the Budgeting and Accounting Act of 1921, the
president is required to submit his budget on the 15th
day of the new congressional session in January.
the Constitution does not require that the House act
first on appropriation requests, it does so by
request is assigned to one of 13 subcommittee of the
House Appropriations Committee -- e.g.,
Rural Development, and Related Agencies Commerce,
Justice, State and Judiciary
subcommittee holds hearings on its requests for
in the House tend to cut most budget requests, on
the theory that the agencies always ask for more
than they need.
full Appropriations committee routinely accepts the
recommendations of its subcommittees.
House usually accepts the report of its Appropriation
Committee, although objections are often made to
particular items and alterations are occasionally made
if they have sufficient support.
- After the
appropriations bills pass the House, they are sent to the
bills are assigned to the Senate Appropriations
Committee, which has 13 subcommittees that parallel
the subcommittees of the House Appropriations
which felt that they were unfairly treated in the
House appeal to the Senate subcommittees, which often
restore particular cuts.
the dual consideration of agency appropriations
--first in the House, then in the Senate --
historically sets up the Senate committee as a court
of appeal and promotes pluralist politics in budget
appropriations bills passed by the House and Senate
always differ in minor items and often in major
must be resolved by representatives of both
Appropriations Committees in a House-Senate conference
the years, Congress has had difficulty in agreeing on
its appropriations bills and in enacting all 13 bills
into law before October 1, the start of the fiscal
year for which the appropriations apply.
federal government has regularly relied on CONTINUING
APPROPRIATIONS -- resolutions passed at the start of a
new fiscal year to continue spending at the same level
of the previous year just to keep the government in
budgetary process in 1995 was very different from the
process outlined above.
Gridlock: rupture of the budgetary process
Congress threw away the budget that President Clinton
presented to the Congress last winter.
budget contained a deficit of about $200 billion
dollars, and it did not provide for a glide path to
a balanced budget.
more or less operated on an incremental budgeting
approach, funding most social programs in the
future about as they had been funded in the
Congress reworked the budget and re-estimated future
budgets to produce a balanced budget by 2002 (see CQ,
December 16, 1995, p. 3792).
the 1996-2002 period, Congress proposed a net $750
billion cut in government cost.
accepting the principle of a balanced budget,
ultimately responded with a $385 billion
difference between them, according to the CBO, was
$365, and it could not be bridged.
November,1995, Clinton had signed only 6 of the 13
different spending bills, which meant that for many
agencies, they had no money to spend.
led to the fabled government shutdowns (CQ, December
23, 1995: 3876)
I occurred for six days, November
seven-day Shutdown II (longest ever) occurred
- By the
time that Clinton was scheduled to deliver his FY 1997
budget, the government had not agreed on a 1996
sides suffered in public opinion, but the Republicans
suffered more than the Democrats.
it could be argued that the Republicans lost the
battle but won the war, for Clinton's 1997 budget did
propose to balance the budget by 2002--which was the
Republican position after all.
disastrous 1995 experience gave Republicans incentive
to cooperate with the President in the budgetary
result was the deal that produced a balanced
fiscal 1998 and 1999, the government has enjoyed a
surplus of over $40 billion.
intractable budget problem has proved
- In the
early 1990s: (transparency)
were deficits ahead as far as the eye could
of cutting the deficits, Congress passed the
ill-considered Gramm Rudman deficit reduction
that failed, Congress tried two schemes to change the
government to reduce the defict:
balanced budget amendment
line-item veto was defended in this
- No one
wanted to raise taxes and cut spending to do
broke his 1988 pledge of "no new taxes" and raised
them in 1990, producing a revolt within his party
and perhaps leading to his defeat.
raised taxes in 1993, but only by the barest of
margins in both the House and the
- The great
problem in controlling spending lies in the
uncontrollables, which account for 67% of the budget:
on the federal debt.
security, medicare, and other mandatory
Taxing and Spending Policies
- Are taxes
too high in America--how would you answer that
with what?--against time? (graph see Fig.
with what?--against other countries? (graph see
- Tax policy
has three purposes: to meet budgetary outlays, to make
the tax burden more equitable, or to control the
- The tax
reform bill passed in 1986 represented one of the more
sweeping changes in tax history.
opinion studies show that in 1984 only a small
minority of the American public considered the federal
income tax system a major economic problem.
- The tax
burden has increased over time in the United States
but is still low compared to the tax rate of major
industrialized democratic nations.
- But in
seeking electoral advantage, politicians have led
Americans to believe that taxes are too high.
- How have
government spending and tax policies affected economic
inequality in America?
PAYMENTS - government payments to individuals -
reduced income inequality until 1980.
the tax burden of the federal income tax is now
somewhat progressive, the burden of state, local and
social security taxes is highly regressive.
- The tax
code contained many policies which only favor the
rich, such as lower tax rates on "capital gains," no
withholding on unearned income and no federal tax for
billions of dollars in social spending from 1966 to
1988, the gap in income between rich and poor remains
Lowest 20% 4.3% 4.1% 4.4%
Highest 20% 45.7 48.9 46.5
studies recently released show that the 1% of the
nation with the highest income gained most of the
after-tax family income during the late 1970s and the
1989, the richest 1% of families held 37% of the total
net worth in the US; the next richest held 31%; and
the remaining 90% held 32%. (New York Times
4/21/92, p. 1)
- The highly
unequal distribution of wealth in American society can be
understood from the perspective of two models of
argue that tax and spending policies are dominated by
pluralist politics which favor well funded and well
organized interest groups.
studies show that Americans are unlikely to seek
redistribution of income through the tax system as
prescribed by the majoritarian principles of