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Earth to Congress: Pay for it with the “Forgotten Cash”

According to a post today at one of The Hill blogs, On the Money: “The Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham on Sunday said they expect a payroll tax cut bill to pass before year's end but they differ widely over how to pay for it.”

It need not be so difficult, however. In his column in the Washington Times on Friday, Deroy Murdock says there’s almost $700 billion in unused cash literally laying around in various federal agency’s accounting records. Murdock begins to explain it this way:

“Only in Washington could nearly $700 billion fester as Congress scrambles for cash.

"Earth to the congressional leadership: Precisely $687 billion fills federal coffers, officially “unobligated” and, thus, available. Nonetheless, Democrats and Republicans are clobbering each other over how to finance a $185 billion, one-year extension of the payroll-tax holiday, to help Americans survive today’s economic unpleasantness.

“Predictably, Democrats hope to use this occasion to slap a 10-year, 1.9 percent surtax on those who earn at least $1 million. This would amplify their new battle cry: “Class war!”

"Republicans surprisingly have proposed to raise Medicare premiums for prosperous seniors. Affluence testing of entitlements is long overdue. But without preparing the public, especially seniors, for this wise move, the GOP will bare itself to a brand-new round of left-wing lies, e.g., “Nothing gives Republicans more intense pleasure than starving Granny and shoving Gramps down the nearest storm drain.”

The secret, says Murdock, lies in the “unobligated balances,” which are “the amounts of budget authority that have not yet been committed by contract or other legally binding action by the government,” according to the report, “Balances of Budget Authority, Budget of the U.S. Government, Fiscal Year 2012” produced by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (Adobe required). Some of it has been unobligated for several years, in fact.

Murdock does say that a bill in Congress could pay for the payroll tax among other uses. He writes:

“Freshman Rep. David Schweikert’s Forgotten Funds Act would accomplish some of these things. His legislation notwithstanding, Mr. Schweikert has watched nearly $700 billion languish, like a pile of gold bars in the Capitol Rotunda that garners hardly a glance.

“Common-sense offsets need to play a key part in this discussion, to avoid a continued raid on Social Security,” the Arizona Republican told me. “With nearly $700 billion locked up and out of use, releasing these forgotten funds would be a key step to protecting taxpayers.”

Hey Congress, wake-up! Or, are you “collectively incapable of crossing the street,” as Murdock wonders in closing his column? When we growled yesterday, we included the phone numbers and links to e-mail the members of Congress who represent us. Tell them to use the "forgotten cash" to pay for the payroll tax as well as to reduce the deficit.

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