By Onan Coca
Apparently, fiscal conservatism is dead. Long live spending without consequences and uncontrollably ballooning deficits.
Early Friday morning (around 4 am), Congress passed Paul Ryan’s bi-partisan budget deal that will stave off another government shutdown for at least the next two years.
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It was an unexpected nail-biter: After a short “technical” shutdown, Congress early Friday passed a measure that would raise spending levels by $300 billion over the next two years.
The vote came hours after appropriations expired at midnight, shuttering agencies for the second time in three weeks after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., derailed the Senate vote in a protest over ballooning deficit spending. The Senate finally passed the legislation early Friday with wide bipartisan support on a 71-28 vote.
The House convened at 4 a.m. and finally took up the legislation shortly after 5 a.m., passing the bill on a 240-186 vote.
The Bipartisan Budget Act, now heading to President Trump’s desk, will place agencies on their fifth continuing resolution of fiscal 2018, giving lawmakers until March 23 to set line-by-line appropriations for agencies across government.
The forthcoming omnibus spending bill would give appropriators an additional $63 billion for non-defense agencies, allocating a total $579 billion for fiscal 2018 for domestic agencies. Defense spending would increase by $80 billion. In fiscal 2019, non-defense spending would increase by $68 billion to $597 billion.
Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2018
If you think this is no big deal, you’d be wrong.
This budget deal is literally one of the worst EVER.
Consider this, Republicans railed against President Obama’s wild spending just a few short years ago, but President Obama’s big spending budget deal was a tiny fraction of this latest effort.
Ed Morrissey at HotAir.com has a reminder of just how historically UGLY this deal really is:
In the 2013 budget agreement, the only other time the caps got raised, spending increased $63 billion over two years under the parity rule, but the bill also cut spending further down the road to pay for it. Supposedly, we had an agreement that would actually trim spending by $25 billion over ten years, a drop in the bucket but at least a small step in the right direction.
The scope of that increase was one-fifth of the new budget deal, and that was when Republicans controlled only the House and Democrats controlled the Senate and White House. Now, with Republicans in charge of all three, the best they can do on a deal is to spend five times as much?
In 2013, Republicans were loathe to agree to Obama’s spending increases… but just a few short years later they are leading the charge to waste 5 times MORE? It’s incomprehensible. It’s enraging. And it’s the Republican Party in 2018.
Thankfully, conservatives have been loudly opposed to the deal, but that’s meaningless isn’t it? In the Trump era, conservatives simply didn’t have the leverage or the influence to stop this terrible deal.
Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI) was downright apoplectic that his fellow Republicans would even consider such a deal, let alone lead the charge to get it passed.
This morning, every Republican in Congress who blasted government growth under Pres. Obama gets to answer the following question with his or her vote: Do you oppose massive spending increases only when a Democrat is in the White House?
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) February 9, 2018
Amash wasn’t the only conservative to speak out against this terrible bill. 67 House Republicans and 16 GOP Senators voted against the massive increase in spending. (You can see how your local representative voted here.)
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) called it “a monumental mistake and a sad day.”
“With the passage of this spending package, I fear Republicans have ceded our moral authority to lead our nation away from eventual national insolvency. I cannot in good conscience support it,” the retiring House Financial Services Committee chairman said.
Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) voted against the bill because of the negative impact it would have on our deficit. “Anybody in the Milky Way concerned about the deficit has to be worried about this bill,” the first term Senator said.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) was exactly right when he said, “This budget deal is a betrayal of everything limited government conservatism stands for and I will be voting no.”
House Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan (R-OH) called the deal a “monstrosity,” and said, “I just never thought that Speaker Ryan — with his history and his background in budget issues, and his concern with the debt and deficit issue — I just never thought that this would be something that the Congress would put forward.”
Sadly, not all of our conservative heroes stood for what was right. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was one of the “yes” votes on the budget deal. In the aftermath, he was quick to explain why he voted “yes,” and it almost sounds as if he hasn’t quite convinced himself that he did the right thing (he didn’t).
“After much consideration, I will reluctantly vote for this legislation. This bill contains major victories; if hurricane relief and restoring vital defense spending were the only elements of this bill, I would be supporting it energetically and enthusiastically. Unfortunately—in addition to funding those critical priorities—this bill also unnecessarily balloons the deficit…
Washington logrolling sometimes forces lousy choices. This is one of those choices. I will vote yes on this bill because Texas desperately needs disaster relief and because the decade-long weakening of our military readiness has now reached crisis levels. But I do so with deep reservations.
This bill will increase our deficits and increase our debt. That’s foolhardy. Instead of increasing non-defense discretionary spending, we should be reining in government spending. Eliminating unnecessary government programs. We should be showing the courage to finally reform long-term entitlement spending, which drives two-thirds of our spiraling debt. And we should be passing structural reform, like a federal Balanced Budget Amendment and Term Limits Amendment. And I am committed to continuing to fight to deliver on each of those promises.”
Cruz (who I supported in the 2016 GOP Primary) says that he is committed to continuing the fight to balance the budget even as he votes for a bill that will do more damage to that goal and balloon the deficit than anything (except Obamacare) that Barack Obama did during his 8 years in office.
The treason to fiscal conservatism hurts.
Thankfully, there are still a few principled fiscal conservatives in Congress today. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) led the quixotic fight to stop this terrible budget deal, and he eloquently described the deeper problem behind the bill. “When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party.”
When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party.
You see, opposition seems to bring people together, and they know what they’re not for. But then they get in power and they decide, we’re just going to spend that money too. We’re going to send that money to our friends this time.
The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty.
The right cries out, ‘Our military is hollowed out!‘ Even though military spending more than doubled since 2001.
The left is no better. Democrats don’t oppose military money as long as they can get some for themselves… for their pet causes.
The dirty little secret is that, by and large, both parties don’t care about the debt.
The spending bill is 700 pages, and there will be no amendments.
The debate, although it’s somewhat inside baseball that we’re having here, is over me having a 15-minute debate. And they say, ‘Woe is me! If you get one, everybody will want an amendment.’
Well, that would be called debate.
That would be called an open process.
That would be called concern for your country, enough to take a few minutes.
And they’re like, ‘But it’s Thursday, and we like to be on vacation on Fridays.’
And so they clamor. We’ve been sitting around all day. It’s not like we’ve had 100 amendments today, we’re all worn out and can’t do one more. We’re going to have zero amendments. Zero, goose egg, no amendments.
It’s a binary choice. They love that word, it’s a binary choice.
Take it or leave it. You know what? I’m going to leave it. I didn’t come up here for this. I didn’t leave my family throughout the week and travel up here to be a part of something that is so much inertia, and so much status quo, that they’re not leading the country. They’re just following along, and it’s a big ball rolling down a hill grabbing up your dollars as the boulder rolls down the hill, it gets bigger and bigger, it’s going to crush us.
But nobody has the guts to stand up and say no.
Over the past 40 years, only four times have we actually done 12 individual department of government appropriations bills. You’ve heard of like the Appropriation Committee? This is where the spending is. You have the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, Health and Human services.
We’re supposed to pass each individual bill, and what would happen when we pass the bills, they would go through committee and each committee would look and see, well, this spending seems to be working. We’re getting a great result, and we want some more next year. And this spending appears to be, have been put in a closet and lit on fire, and so next year we’re not giving that person who put the $10 million in the closet and lit it on fire, we’re not going to give them any money.
Guess what? That doesn’t happen. So people keep putting your money in a closet and lighting it on fire.
Even a CNN liberal can see that Senator Paul is right.
We need more Rand Pauls in Congress and fewer Paul Ryans.
Republished with permission Constitution.com
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Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Liberty Alliance media group. He’s also the managing editor at Eaglerising.com, Constitution.com and the managing partner at iPatriot.com. You can read more of his writing at Eagle Rising.
Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children.