Fire Borrowing.. The Beat Goes On With House Approps

Excerpt from an E&E story here (subscription needed).

House CR provides $600M to restore USDA wildfire shortfall

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday proposed a bill that would restore $600 million to Forest Service programs whose funding was siphoned last month to help pay for wildfire suppression.

The continuing resolution, which would extend government funding through mid-December, would also allow flexibility for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to maintain satellite programs that provide data for weather warnings and forecasts of severe weather events.

The bill would keep government programs funded at post-sequestration levels and is free of riders or policy changes, said Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). However, riders contained in currently enacted appropriations legislation would carry forward, he said.

“Our country desperately needs a long-term budget solution that ends the draconian cuts put into place by sequestration and that provides for a responsible, sustainable and attainable federal budget,” Rogers said in a statement. “It is my hope that this stopgap legislation will provide time for all sides to come together to reach this essential goal.”

The overall bill would fund the government at $986.3 billion, slightly below current, post-sequestration levels.

The proposal comes about a month after Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell ordered his agency to halt spending on restoration programs, employee travel, hiring and overtime in order to scrounge up additional funds to fight wildfires (E&ENews PM Aug. 21).

That move angered lawmakers, conservation groups and timber interests, which warned it would delay important forest restoration activities that reduce the risk — and cost — of future catastrophic wildfires.

3 Comments

  1. “The Beat Goes On With House Approps”

    And as long as we continue to elect a puppet Congress dancing lockstep to free market fundamentalism and its utterly failed neoliberal agenda (talk about broken records as to how we got here in the first place) we can expect the same outcomes as have been visited upon other countries.

    Pollack’s brilliant film,”They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”has a plot line bearing rich resemblance to corporatism’s mashup of incestuous greed and self interest, legalized bribery, insider-trading, etc. .

    (required reading if one is to make any sense of this at all: Naomi Kline’s, “Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”)

  2. No time to read Naomi? Here’s a few excerpts from The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch
    as reported Sept.3rd. of 2013.

    “The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein reports that Larry Summers is the “overwhelming favorite” of the Obama team for the job as Federal Reserve chairman.”

    (don’t remember Larry’s last dance as Treasury Secretary? Here’s a quick refresher course continuing with the same article)

    “In the spring of 1998, Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers called Brooksley Born, the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and yelled: “I have 13 bankers in my office who tell me you’re going to cause the worst financial crisis since the end of World War II” if she moved forward with plans to bring transparency and reporting requirements to the OTC market. OTC derivatives were already causing huge loses around the globe. In 1994 Orange County California lost $1.5 billion speculating on OTC derivatives.”

    (snip)
    “Summers became Treasury Secretary in July 1999, receiving a congratulatory letter from Ken Lay, the President of Enron Corporation, addressed “Dear Larry.” In his response to “Ken” on May 25, 1999, Summers included a handwritten PS: “I’ll keep my eye on power deregulation and energy-market infrastructure issues.”

    “Summers helped negotiate the World Trade Organization’s Financial Services agreement that opened global markets to derivatives and other financial products and made it harder for signatory nations to regulate banking in the public interest. In the WTO agreement, which was negotiated behind closed doors, the United States effectively pledged to get rid of the 1933 Glass-Steagall law, which was seen as a barrier to market entry by many foreign banks that were structured differently. In 1997, Tim Geither urged Larry Summers to personally call the heads of America’s top five banks to seal the deal.”

    (snip)
    “As energy prices skyrocketed in California, Summers opposed Governor Gray Davis’ plan to intervene with price controls, claiming: “This is classic supply and demand. The only way to fix this is ultimately by allowing retail prices to go wherever they have to go.” Enron filed for bankruptcy in 2001, putting 20,000 employees out of work and Ken Lay was convicted of 10 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and other offenses. Read Kurt Eichenwald’s 2005 book on the collapse of Enron, “Conspiracy of Fools.”

    Summers departed the Treasury in 2001 and went off to be the President of Harvard, where he ignored repeated warnings by expert staff and lost Harvard some $2 billion of its endowment funds, including $1 billion on toxic interest rate swaps. Read about it in the Boston Globe and Bloomberg News.

    Back at the White House in 2009 as head of the National Economic Council, Summers was a chief architect of the generous bank bailout, the weak stimulus and the limited structural reforms in Dodd-Frank. Summers opposed numerous efforts to strengthen the bill, most tellingly, the President’s effort to include the “Volcker Rule.”

    (the article concludes)

    “In the shadows, between 2000-2008, the OTC derivatives market grew from $95.2 trillion to $672.6 trillion, notational value. When the dark market deals started to go sour, the impact was felt around the world. The man who was featured on the cover of Time Magazine as part of the “Committee to Save the World” with Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan in 1999, instead helped bring it to its knees.”

    As long as free market fundamentalism remains disconnected from what has happened to America, from wildfire funding to recycling the architects of Disaster Capitalism in America and elsewhere, “The Beat” most certainly, “Goes On.”

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