…was just passed in the small hours of Friday morning. The high points of what it does is provide funding for the Federal government into late March, provide a budget good for two years, raise the debt ceiling a smidge, and increase spending authorization for defense by $165 billion over the next two years and for domestic items by $131 billion over those two years. It does not include anything regarding immigration, particularly DACA, despite House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D, CA) 8-hour speech Thursday, nor does it include anything regarding welfare reform.
The lack of immigration matters in the budget deal is appropriate; Pelosi’s long harangue notwithstanding. Immigration has nothing to do with the budget, and it will be handled separately, as both House Speaker Paul Ryan (R, WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) have said repeatedly. The lack of welfare reform does matter, but it needn’t have been a deal breaker in the present instant. There needs to be a stronger consensus both in Congress and in the nation before that can be done properly—recall the fiasco that is Obamacare.
A number of Republicans in both houses objected to the deal, though, and voted against it and held it up in the Senate. Senator Rand Paul (R, KY) wanted a vote on his amendment to restore the prior spending caps, which would have eliminated those $196 billion in spending increases. The Conservative Caucus of House Republicans also objected to the vasty spending increases. In all cases, those increases will add to the Federal budget deficit and through that to the national debt by up to $1 trillion, depending on how much our growing economy adds to Federal revenues.
One thing the budget deal does not do, and this is a Critical Item, is require all that money to be spent. The bill is an authorization bill; it sets an outer bound on how much can be spent. That’s all it does. Actual spending will come from the several appropriation bills that must now be passed. This is where those Republicans’ concerns can be addressed, and they should be; the concerns are entirely valid.
In the coming appropriations bills, Republicans must hold the line on the defense spending increases—there’s nothing domestic of any import if we can’t support our friends and allies or even defend ourselves—and reduce spending in other, domestic, areas (including welfare reform, even if only a series of tweaks this year) to pay for the defense increases. And that includes on holding the line on those domestic appropriations bills already passed by the House, which were passed under the lower caps.
The Progressive-Democrats in Congress will howl over this; they view authorization to spend as an absolute requirement to spend. Let them howl. Let the Progressive-Democrats continue to be the heavy spending, deficits and debt be damned, party. Let the Progressive-Democrats run on a platform of profligate spending. They’ll drag out every tear-jerking trope they can dream up—it’s for the children, our grandmas are getting pushed off the cliff, think of the poor people in Illinois and Connecticut, and on and on.
Americans aren’t as stupid as the Progressive-Democrats make us out to be. Our kids, our parents, our poor regardless of where they live will be better off for that spending discipline. Let the Progressive-Democrats try to sell their snake oil budgeting that Government spending and Government income have nothing to do with each other.
One more thing. The budget deal, good for two years like it is, means Republicans won’t be able to pass anything, including those appropriations bills, without nine Senate Progressive-Democrats on board. Appropriations bills aren’t subject to reconciliation votes. Without actual spending authorization, the Federal government will shut down in late March. Without nine Democrats to support ending a Senate filibuster, spending won’t be authorized. Let Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D, NY) shut down the government again because he can’t get wastrel spending done. Let the Progressive-Democrats throw another temper tantrum. That won’t play any better than the just ended Schumer Shutdown did.