Republican Congressman Justin Amash of west Michigan was aghast as the GOP-controlled House and Senate approved a massive budget bill that featured a $420 billion jump in spending negotiated by the Republican and Democratic Senate leadership.
The Republicans got a huge, 2-year increase for the Pentagon budget, and the Democrats won a big boost for their favorite domestic programs over the same period.
“This spending proposal is disgusting and reckless—the biggest spending increase since 2009. I urge every American to speak out against this fiscal insanity,” Amash (R-Cascade Township) tweeted hours before the budget votes early this morning.
One of his like-minded libertarian Republicans, Sen. Rand Paul, took to the Senate floor late last night in a delaying tactic as he chastised his GOP colleagues:
“If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?” the Kentucky senator asked.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) added this: “I love bipartisanship, as you know. But the problem is the only time we discover bipartisanship is when we spend more money.”
The budget accord, signed into law by President Trump, raises previously set strict spending “caps” on domestic and military spending in this fiscal year and the next by more than $300 billion.
The 650-page spending bill, months after the devastation, also provides nearly $90 billion in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires for Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California. The debt ceiling was raised and will not be revisited until March 2019.
The deal includes $10 billion for infrastructure spending, including the expansion of broadband Internet in rural areas, plus billions for federal health initiatives. Those include a $6 billion to response to the nation’s opioid crisis, $7 billion for community health centers, and a decade-long extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), up from the 6-year extension Congress passed earlier this year.
The Defense Department budget will reach $700 billion this year and $716 billion in fiscal year 2019.
The vote came on the heels of a tax reform bill approved by Congress in December that will add up to $1.5 trillion to the federal debt by 2027. Congressional Republicans are now contemplating making the tax cuts for individuals within that bill permanent.
Looking back, the Simpson-Bowles budget plan to gradually reduce federal deficits now seems like a distant memory.
Earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were pleased that both got what they wanted. But the bipartisan abandonment of the fiscal austerity preached over the past decade on Capitol Hill drew a sharp rebuke from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The CRFB, comprised of numerous high-ranking former federal officials, Republicans and Democrats, released a statement that called the bill an act of “fiscal malpractice.”
The statement from Maya MacGuineas, CRFB president, said:
It is hard to believe that just a few years ago a national bipartisan fiscal commission was working on a plan to bring our growing and historic national debt back down to sustainable levels.
In the past two months, Congress has gone on a borrowing spree, racking up trillions of dollars in new debt on the national credit card at a time when the debt is already at post-war record highs.
Permanent annual trillion-dollar deficits will now return next year and top $2 trillion by 2027 if both this budget deal and the tax law are made permanent, which is what Congress intends.
No one voting for this bill can claim to care about the debt and deficits – in fact, it is fiscal malpractice. Congress just ordered everything on the menu, and then some, and sent the bill over to the kids’ table.
Bipartisanship means making compromises and tough choices for the good of the country as a whole, not paying off each other with trillions of dollars in goodies and passing the buck, leaving the nation weaker.