Audit D.C. Notes: Collender on reconciliation; WSJ on stalled jobs

—Stan Collender shows why he’s considered one of Washington’s brighter budget bulbs, with a Roll Call column that explains why Senate use of the reconciliation process for health care would change the outlook for other issues, too.

What makes reconciliation and, therefore, a budget resolution, even more likely is what it would be used for: something that will be called a tax cut. By the end of this year or, more likely, before Election Day, the White House and Congressional Democrats want to extend most of the tax cuts that are set to expire at midnight on Dec. 31. Even though the bill will reduce taxes compared with current law for most Americans, it is not hard to conceive of a situation where Senate Republicans would try to hold up its consideration. It might be because some existing tax cuts might not be extended in the bill, because other tax cuts are not included, or simply to prevent Democrats from getting any credit before the elections for extending any tax-reduction provisions. Much like the situation that occurred last week in the Senate on the jobs bill, it’s not difficult to envision a GOP filibuster if the bill is considered under anything but reconciliation procedures.

The piece is also a good primer on why, despite what most Hill reporters say, the reconciliation process is about more than getting around a filibuster.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a Federal Housing Administration program intended to help build new health-care facilities—and create jobs in the process—that is stalled because it doesn’t have enough employees to process applications.

As a result, the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Insured Health Care Facilities, which administers the program, has seen a surge in demand. The program typically insures about 10 projects a year. This year the office expects to insure 23, plus an additional seven for a new, related program. Currently, 21 applications worth $2.3 billion are under review.

The application holdup comes amid unprecedented government stimulus spending aimed at creating jobs, which over time has become a core purpose of the FHA program, but hinges in part on the FHA’s inability to hire more people to keep pace. The program wants to hire more staff but is short of cash.

A good job of looking into government nooks and crannies.

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Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at