Government Spending

The Omnibus Spending Bill Is a Fiscal Embarrassment

Republicans prove yet again why they deserve to be labeled the biggest swamp spenders.


Republicans are once again proving why they actually deserve the label of the biggest swamp spenders. The latest gigantic omnibus spending bill would fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year—with a price tag of $1.3 trillion. That doesn't include entitlement funding or payments for the interest on our debt—which continue to grow and drive our debt higher, as Republicans have apparently given up on slowing down spending.

Most Republicans favor the bill as a way to avoid the self-inflicted risk of another government shutdown. Never mind that members have had no time to read the 1,000-page bill and figure out what is actually in it. They just have to take Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's word. He said, "It has some things no one likes, and it has a lot of things not everybody likes but most people like. It was a fair compromise."

Schumer's uncharacteristic cheerfulness about the measure probably had much to do with the $900 million in funding for the Gateway tunnel project, a boondoggle supported by all New York-area lawmakers. It most likely won't be in the final bill, though, because President Donald Trump threatened to veto the bill if the project were to be included. Immigration is another sticky point, but we can all expect it to be resolved at some point by nudging the right people for their support.

You can also expect Republicans and President Trump to spin this as a "yuge" victory for their team. After all, isn't it a sign that they can govern? Sure, if you tolerate massive deficit spending, being irresponsible, and pushing all that liability down the throat of future generations. I don't, because I actually care about the well-being of my kids and grandkids.

To be fair, this is no surprise. These are the same guys who agreed back in February to add $300 billion of spending over two years to the already monstrous federal tab. Showing yet again that bipartisanship isn't good news for those of us who care about the fiscal path our country is on, the agreement blew the budget caps that were meant to control excess spending by opportunistic politicians.

Democrats are, of course, loving it. Let's face it; they know that when Republicans are in power, they can act like a drunken teenager with Daddy's credit card, but they sober up when they have the gavel. What's worse, Republicans are terrible negotiators. For example, Democrats have once again managed to get most of their non-defense priorities funded by the Republican-controlled Congress and White House in exchange for allowing more defense spending. The result is a $143 billion boost to this year's spending above budget caps. Who cares about budget rules and deficits when you can throw more cash at the Department of Defense?

This will, of course, lead to much larger deficits than originally projected. According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, red ink for 2018 will reach $800 billion. That's a solid $230 billion higher than what was projected by the Congressional Budget Office in its June 2017 10-year forecast. That's a whole $2 trillion in additional debt after just one year of Republican control of the legislative and executive branches.

Larger deficits also mean larger interest payments. A CRFB analysis found that "interest payments will quadruple, topping $1 trillion per year in as little as a decade. That's more than we will spend each year on the military or Medicaid, and as a share of the economy, it is the highest in history. … Over the next decade, we'll spend around $7 trillion—$55,000 per household—just servicing our debt."

The economy is growing. The scale of the Afghanistan War is relatively small—and even some defense hawks recognize that there's enough waste and unnecessary spending already in the military budget that could be cut to pay for whatever modernization is necessary. Unemployment is going down, and people feel more hopeful about the economy. This is hardly the time for Republicans to deliver the biggest increase to federal spending in years. Yet that's what is happening. Don't be fooled by the forthcoming victory dance.

NEXT: To Protect Mueller From Trump, Republican Silence May Be Shrewd

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  1. “The scale of the Afghanistan War is relatively small…”

    Hot diggitty dog titties!!! Time to declare an undeclared war on Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus!!! STIMULATE that motherfucking military-industrial complex!!!

    I am especially looking forward to war on Uranus!!! Put the Starship Enterprise in orbit around Uranus, and ERADICATE those Klingons!!! Just like a roll of toilet paper circling around YOUR anus can get YOUR clingons flushed away, ya know, licketty split!!! Easy peasy!!! It will be a glorious, short little war, Trump and the Rethugglicans PROMISE us that!!!!

    1. I think you need another reboot.

      1. Or perhaps another frontal lobotomy?

        But I’d MUCH rather have another bottle in front of me!!!

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  2. As unpleasant as it may be, libertarians need to go R.
    Progressives (aka Ds/”liberals”, aka totalitarian socialists) are a lost cause – entirely unreasonable.
    Conservatives are Rs because Ds are a terrifying alternative. But non-establishment Rs, including – yes – evangelicals, can be co-opted.
    Conservatives in the US, as my own libertarian converter likes to say, want to conserve the (radically) liberal values of the enlightenment realized by the founding of the USA and codified in our Constitution. The revolutionary idea of individual liberty was extremely liberal at first, but now in 2018 is conservative.

    1. I’ve seen some more libertarian ideas/values grow in the rhetoric of Rs over the last decade, though the results are sadly lacking.
      Conservatives are susceptible to libertarianism. Progressives are fundamentally opposed, not to conservativism, but to libertarianism.
      We are rightly disappointed in the Rs. Rather than retreat into fundamentalist cynicism, soothing ourselves that we are principled, why not make more of an effort to engage the party whose base can be made to realize libertarian sympathies?

      1. Ted Cruz types are a good example – sure, we hate the overt Christianity and attempts to govern with it, but hasn’t the bulk of his actual legislative effort been to restrain government?
        Evangelicals, and less extreme Rs, can be reasoned with if we speak to their interests. They may seek to impose govt on social/moral issues – so leave that aside for now. Speak to them on other issues, such as the role of govt in charity and how the scope of govt authority intrudes on the traditional sphere of the church.
        Don’t argue against their morality – co-opt their morality.

        1. I’m with you. Thanks for encouragement.

    2. “As unpleasant as it may be, libertarians need to go R.”

      Why? Because of all the deficit spending? War on terror/drugs/personal freedom?

      I’ll agree that on fiscal issues the R’s sound better than the D’s, but when push comes to shove, we end up with more deficit spending.

      Libertarians need to go L. R & D have failed us equally throughout the years.

    3. You refer to your “own libertarian converter”… either you still need more converting or you need a “libertarian converter” who isn’t a republican. Your ideas about conservatives are pure fantasy. The only growth in libertarian ideas/values among R’s has been strictly based on the fact that the President was a D. All of that has been aborted in the last 18 months. The concept that libertarian ideas appeal to evangelicals is similarly ridiculous. You can’t just conveniently “leave that aside for now” when you’re referring to the foundation of the entire identity of a group.

      Libertarians aren’t going to win-over either the R’s or the D’s (Libs or Cons). But, at the least, we can show both sides of the aisle where our common ground is and then explore the extent of their commitment to the areas where we disagree.

      1. Hilarious.

        How’s your strategy working out?

      2. Strict libertarians will never win anything. Most people aren’t strict libertarians… BUT most people are slight libertarians, whether they lean left or right.

        IMO The Rs are the only ones that can be converted in any real numbers given how things stand today. Anyone who thinks people that vote for Democrats today are going to become even half baked libertarians anytime soon are hitting the crack pipe.

        The Republican party needs to be taken over, and the big government folks in it need to be thrown out. Most of the base is pretty libertarian friendly as is, it has always been the leadership that sucked. I once dated a home school hardcore Christian girl. I convinced her that even if you don’t like drugs, they should be legal. I explained the reasoning. She converted. She even voted for GayJay in 2012 she told me!

        Hardcore Bernie people will never come over like that IMO.

  3. The left vs right spectrum is a dead paradigm – it’s collective vs individual perspective and top-down vs bottom-up governance/authority.
    Progressive vs Libertarian.
    Ds and Rs loosely align with each side, but powers that be, both nominally D and R, are mostly progressive.
    The Ds, as a party, are imploding. The Rs are fractured between base and representatives. Both are ripe for transformation.
    If libertarians wield our influence effectively, that progressive element (exemplified by the McCains and Bushes and Romneys and Kasichs) can be cleaved from the Rs and made to file over to the Ds.
    At that point, we’ll have 2 parties that actually represent opposing philosophies instead of just different mascots and cronies.
    Libertarians can win, as classical liberals, and take over the R base.
    We just have to try.

    1. Sounds familiar. Let me think … oh, yeah. The Tea Party said something very similar not all that long ago. Made a splash, got people elected, scared the establishment … and melted into the muck.

  4. But Donald Trump saved so much money for the US people with his Airforce One! Like a billion dollars! That is pretty close to a trillion so I still give him a Solid A for trying real hard to save money.

  5. Why is Chuck Schumer presenting a budget? The Democrats are the minority party. Another reason for people to vote Libertarian, as both Republicans and Democrats are mostly the same on spending.

    Republicans not having balls to submit a decent budget with lots of government cuts is why some will lose their seats in November, not because of Trump. Republicans should tell Schumer to sit the fuck down and shut up. Change the Senate rules on fiscal bills only needing majority votes, vote in a Republican budget.

    Then change the Senate rules to require 99 votes to pass a budget and 100 votes to change Senate rules.

    1. For the same reason the president “presents” a budget. To hide the absolute responsibility of the House of representatives to control the spending of the United States. The house ways and means committee is on the hook, and they are chaired by the majority party. All the rest is window dressing.
      And this is not a budget, it is a spending bill. The real budget, as proceduraly defined by congress itself, has not been passed in a decade and more. And yet there is no organized effort to recall all of the house for abject failure to fulfill their oath of office.
      To quote Pogo from when a certain sexual harasser was in office “We must tell them that the fault lies not with our glorious candidate, but with the nitwits and nincompoops who elected him”.

  6. I hate everyone involved in this story.

  7. I would be a lot easier to believe YOU guys were serious about fiscal responsibility yourselves if you didn’t go absolutely bonkers whenever it looks like there might be a chance of a “shutdown”.

    This is a really good time for Ken Shultz to once again point out the absolute complete and utter hypocrisy Reason demonstrated a while back when they debating cutting the Medicaid expansion.

  8. I saw Paul “The Butcher” Ryan on the TV this morning whining that the people complaining about the budget deal just don’t appreciate the amount of compromising you have to do to get anything at all passed. My only question is why all the compromise seems to run in the direction of “I’ll give you money for this if you’ll give me money for that” instead of “I’ll let you cut spending for this if you’ll let me cut spending for that”. Here’s an idea, the Dems can cut defense, ICE and Trump’s wall, Republicans can cut Medicaid, EPA, and the Mueller probe.

  9. “What’s worse, Republicans are terrible negotiators.” Not really. Republicans pretend they want to cut domestic spending, particularly for, you know, welfare queens and Planned Parenthood, but they’re smart enough to know that when you cut spending, no matter how wasteful, you piss someone off. Why make enemies when you can make friends? Or at least not make enemies.

    Otherwise, nice piece.

  10. At the “drunken” Democrats pay for their spending, instead of having future generations pay for it, as per the Republicans.

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