Remember when Nancy Pelosi told Americans that we needed to pass the Health Care Law so we could find out what’s in it?  She wasn’t kidding.  This past week a revelation of how far the law went became uncovered, to the tune of $105 Billion in additional spending, which was already allocated.  Some would conclude that savvy Liberals figured there was a chance a Republican Congress would defund the law, so they included $105 billion to see that all the involved government organizations were funded before the Republicans could do anything about it.

There is a stark difference between legislation and appropriations.  A legislative act, such as the Affordable Health Care Act, is a law which sets up requirements, authorizations and regulations.  Laws, in themselves, do no allocate funds.  They may address funding requirements, however the actual budgetary allocation of dollars is a separate action.  Until now.

Rep. Michele Bachmann is incensed and she’s insistent that Congress act to strip the billions of dollars from the federal health care act that should never have been allocated.

Not surprisingly, Democrats say Bachmann’s claim is incorrect and feel doubtful she’ll be able to rally enough support to force the return of the funds through a House vote.  Bachmann, R-Minn., told Fox News she wants to use the fiscal 2011 budget process to eliminate $105 billion in “buried” health law funding. That money was included as “mandatory” spending over the next eight years, she said, meaning it’s automatic and not subject to annual spending votes by Congress.

“No one knew that Harry Reid, Pelosi and Obama put $105 billion in spending in the bill.  This is a bombshell,” according to Bachmann.

The $105 billon down-payment pre-allocated for Obamacare makes it far more difficult for those who want to de-fund the law through the annual appropriations process.  Bachmann is insistent that the money be returned in the next short-term budget bill, which will probably be required to fund the government when the latest continuing resolution expires March 18.

Everyone knew when the Democrats released their 2800 page Affordable Health Care Act, there were bound to be surprises.  No one could read the bill in a month, let alone 24 hours.  It was the first of President Obama’s white lies, where every bill would be posted on-line to be read at least 3 days before any votes were taken.  The over foot tall stack of paper that arrived at each House and Senate member’s desk would’ve required a staff of 20 economists and actuaries weeks to decode, however the full press put on by the Democrats precluded identifying the full impact of the law before it was rammed through.

It’s been a long held tenant of the legislative branch that no Congress can bind a future Congress.  However, no Congress can turn back the clock on money allocated in a prior year, in general.  However, the Congress can turn off the spigot so that funds not spent are returned to the Treasury.

Bachmann is not the first person to find some questionable allocation of money in the law.  Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, tried earlier this year to block the $105 billion.  Also the money was identified in a study by the Heritage Foundation in late January, and those figures came from a Congressional Research Service report from October of last year.  So Bachmann may be a bit late to the party.

Rumors of this extremely unusual inclusion of up-front spending has been making the rounds from various Washington studies, and no one has been able to identify any other piece of authorizing legislation that included such appropriations.

The legality of the funding is likely to come into question, but, more importantly, it’s also likely to make resolution of the 2011 budget even more difficult.  If there was ever a question of the possibility of a government shut-down, you’d have to conclude that it just spiked up considerably.

Say what you will about Pelosi and Reid, but they may have just snookered the Republicans.  If there was ever a nail in the coffin of bi-partisanship, this could well be it.  Bachmann and certainly other Tea Party caucus members are going to be hardened by what’s come to light.  So get ready to head into a period of budgetary warfare like this country has never seen before.  Somewhere in a dimly lit office in the Capitol building, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are tipping a glass of Port Wine and having a good laugh.

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