StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

8 House GOP Freshman Want Credit For Getting A Cash Advance On Their Master Card To Make A Payment On Their Visa

02 Feb 2012
Posted by Stan Collender

This should eliminate all doubts about how little some members of Congress understand about federal finances.

As Dana Milbank explains in his column from today's The Washington Post, eight House Republican freshman made a grandstanding play this week to get public attention and credit for something that makes no financial sense whatsoever.

First, the eight representatives didn't spend all of the amount they got in 2011 from the House of Representatives to pay for staff and other expenses in their Washington and district offices. They correctly claimed that they saved taxpayers money by doing so.

But second, the representatives then said that they wanted to return the unspent money to the Treasury and designate that the funds be used to reduce the national deb. They clearly felt that they should get big props for doing this.

This is wrong on so many levels that it's hard to know where to start.

The Treasury doesn't give each member a wad of cash to spend; it only pays actual expenses after they're incurred. Fewer expenses mean no spending; no spending means no federal borrowing.

In other words, the deficit and federal borrowing were already lower than they would otherwise have been just because the members of Congress didn't spend all that they were allowed. There is no unspent cash to be returned to the Treasury and there's nothing to designate for debt reduction.

The only way the eight first-term Republican House members could have done what they said they wanted to do was first to have gotten the Treasury to borrow more so that they could then use the borrowed funds to borrow less.

And it gets more ridiculous. The Treasury would have had to borrow the funds and pay them to the members of Congress personally (I'm pretty sure that's against the law, but never mind). The members then would have had to return the funds they were not allowed to have back to the Treasury and ask that they be used to lower the debt.

In other words, the members of Congress who were trying to play the role of budget super heroes were really nothing more than financial illiterates. They were doing the Washington equivalent of being proud of paying down a balance on one credit card by getting a cash advance on another...and increasing that car's balance in the process.

If you're shaking your head at the stupidity of this situation...congratulations: You understand it better than at least eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

For the record, the eight anything-but-financial-geniuses are Jeff Landry (R-LA), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Joe Walsh (R-IL), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Steve Southerland (R-FL), ad Mick Mulvaney (R-SC).

I doubt they're embarrassed, but they really should be.

back in 94 when the Rs took

back in 94 when the Rs took the House I kept fielding phone calls from staff for the new majority, each one of whom independently came up with the brilliant idea of "selling the FHA Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund to reduce the debt." And each time I'd patiently explain that the MMIF consisted of Treasury bonds, and that the government selling treasuries to the public was not how you reduced the debt.

And all of them are

And all of them are far-right-wing lunatics. How surprising. And Joe Walsh is the grotesque creep who owes his wife arrears in child support.

follow the data

I'm unaware of any empirical support for the proposition that Republicans can feel shame.

Seen this? "Every House Republican voted Thursday to reject the proposition that the Bush tax cuts added to the deficit. Joined by just a handful of Democrats … [t]he final tally was 174-244. If it had passed, the measure — authored by Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) — would have amended a GOP-backed bill that would have changed the way neutral budget score-keepers analyze the effects of taxation, to make it appear as if unpaid-for tax cuts don’t deepen deficits."


Hey Stan, how's that new $1 coin working out?

8 freshman

These * are undubtedly the victims of led paint in childhood-also their GEDs should be revoked.


Aren't you assuming GED's?

Let's just have them produce the "long-form" proof of both 8th-grade AND 12-th grade proficiency.

Walsh found seven people

Walsh found seven people dumber then he is. That's the real story.

Joe Walsh

OF COURSE Joe Walsh was one of the eight congressmen. He is genuinely not intelligent, just a gas bag.

Joe Walsh

I think I liked Joe Walsh better when he played guitar for the Eagles...

Admittedly ignorant

Of how Congressional money works, but on the Executive side the request for the money to be returned to the Treasury wouldn't be completely meaningless. If a portion of something is not spent, it is available for other purposes within the same appropriation, subject to whatever limitations there are. If office A doesn't spend it, office B often can and very much will if it can get it hands on it. There are a couple of points where money that remains unspent will be "returned" to the Treasury, but that doesn't generally happen unless everyone who could possibly use it has a crack at it first. If the same rules applied and 8 despised Congresscritters wanted make sure that didn't happen, they would have a point.

Heh, hold your horses

Certainly not spending their office budget is enough to save taxpayers money, but note how many Democrats jumped on the bandwagon, which would be easy to do if they hadn't spend their budget entirely:


Funny how you are so quick to ridicule behavior that *actually* did save taxpayer money, even if the "earmark the savings to reduce the debt" is entirely symbolic.

As usual, someone illustrates

As usual, someone illustrates how they cannot read. From THIS article: "They correctly claimed that they saved taxpayers money by doing so."

You were even quicker to missread me

I didn't say that you ridiculed them only because they saved money. You ridiculed them because you think they are too dumb to understand that they are only making a symbolic point when they ask that the remainder be used to reduce the debt.

And all the while ignoring completely the bigger spenders on the other side of the aisle.

You said that Stan ridiculed

You said that Stan ridiculed someone for saving money. Here is a quote directly from your first comment: "Funny how you are so quick to ridicule behavior that *actually* did save taxpayer money,..".

I commented that Stan did no such thing by quoting from his article: "They correctly claimed that they saved taxpayers money by doing so."

Again, neither Stan nor my comment ridiculed them for saving money.

And I should also add

I find it quite telling that people here are ridiculing Republican Congressmen for having the temerity to not only refrain from spending their entire office budget but actually publicizing it, all while the Democratically controlled Senate has announced that it will not allow any votes on an actual budget bill for the third year in a row--in violation of the law.

Funny where your priorities lie.

If anyone read the original

If anyone read the original article, it states that virtually every senator and most house members already do this.


It costs big exertion and time to create the dissertation reference about this post, thus, we choose to notice the thesis service to reach the PhD degree.

True, "giving back" unspent

True, "giving back" unspent money that never existed is fairly silly. OTOH, keeping one's office expenses down can only help with the overall deficit. If all Congressmen lived in boxes out in the parking lot, the govt would save some money.

Until you consider the effect on the wages and taxes that the paper-clip making company will not be paying due to lower sales.

Except that all paper-clips are made in China nowadays so it's Chinese wages and taxes that won't be happening.

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