Some Republicans were complaining that they didn’t know what was in the massive $1.3 trillion “omnibus” spending bill they voted on this week. But it’s what’s not in the bill that’s the most troubling.
Republicans used to love to trot around copies of ObamaCare, pointing out how its massive size — around 2,300 pages — was a sign of runaway government.
The spending bill Congress just approved is nearly as big, weighing in at 2,232 pages. And, like ObamaCare, no one who voted on it had read the bill before casting their ballots.
Then there’s the amount of money we’re talking about. That $1.3 trillion is what will be spent in just the next six months. And that represents just a fraction of what the government will spend, since it doesn’t include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, ObamaCare or welfare.
For perspective, until 1991, the entire budget of the federal government for the whole year was less than $1.3 trillion.
There’s no doubt that spending sleuths will find all sorts of gems tucked away in that mountain of cash.
Still, that’s not the worst of it.
The real problem with this bill is what it doesn’t contain.
No Spending Restraint
First on this list is any semblance of spending discipline.
It is, rather, an orgy of new spending, which hikes outlays in the next six months by almost $77 billion. Over the next two years, it will increase defense spending by $160 billion and domestic spending by $128 billion.
Everyone gets a piece of the action. The National Institutes of Health gets $3 billion more, Census, $1.34 billion. The bill nearly doubles funding for Community Development Block Grants. An Obama stimulus-created grant program will see its budget triple. It throws $3.6 billion at the fight against opioid abuse.
This doesn’t just represent a spending problem for this year and next. These added funds will go into the “baseline,” from which all future spending decisions will be measured. Republicans, working with Democrats, will have set spending on a permanently higher track.
As Heritage Foundation budget expert Justin Bogie put it, the bill “is unshackling the Washington swamp to spend without constraints.”
No Border Security
We should have said that everyone gets a piece of the action except for border security — the second glaring omission in this bill.
The bill includes $1.6 billion in funds to build a border “wall.” But — incredibly — it specifies that only a portion of it can be used to extend existing barriers, and specifically bars the money from being used to build anything other than what “is currently deployed.” In other words, none of the money can be used to build any of the prototypes Trump just visited.
Nor does the bill cut funding for lawbreaking sanctuary cities, or hire more ICE agents.
No ObamaCare Fixes
And while the bill thankfully doesn’t include additional bailout money for ObamaCare, it also does nothing to move the country away from ObamaCare, or help those millions of people who’ve been priced out of the market because of the “Affordable Care Act.”
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said that “this may be the worst bill I have seen in my time in Congress, the worst bill our leadership has ever allowed to come to the floor.”
Jordan is part of the House Freedom Caucus, which sent a letter to Trump urging him to veto this fiscal monstrosity.
“The funding proposal drafted by House and Senate leadership not only forgets the promises we made to the voters — it outright rejects them,” they wrote.
Well said. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough members of the Freedom Caucus to prevent this from getting to President Trump’s desk.
In a tweet Friday morning, Trump said he might veto the bill.
“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.”
But, then he signed it later in the day.
The era of big government, once declared over by Bill Clinton, has now returned under Republican leadership.