Senate Budget Votes Are a Sign of the Trump Era's Other Legacy

One of the most lasting consequences of the Trump years will be Republicans' complete abdication of fiscal responsibility.


Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photos/Newscom

One of the most enduring consequences of the Trump years will be the one on full display in the Senate yesterday, as lawmakers voted 85–7 to pass a pair of budget bills for the fiscal year that begins October 1.

The bills will boost spending for the Pentagon and for a host of domestic programs within the departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services. It's all part of Congress' ongoing attempt to get a fiscal year 2019 budget onto Trump's desk before the end of September. While there are series of other bills that must be passed to complete the budget, the military and human services "mini-bus" accounts for about two-thirds of annual government spending.

The fact that Congress might actually pass a budget is rare enough to be notable on its own. But the part of the story that history will remember is how Republicans in the Trump years completely abdicated their demands for fiscal restraint. Thursday's vote is the latest in a series of bipartisan agreements to hike spending since Republicans and Democrats adopted a two-year budget framework in February. That deal hiked overall spending by $400 billion over two years, and everything since then—including yesterday's vote—has been about filling in the details.

Getting such broad bipartisan support for huge spending increases would have been unheard of a few years ago, when Republicans were building their brand by opposing the runaway spending of the Obama administration. But with Trump in the White House, it's been full speed ahead toward the inevitable fiscal reckoning.

Trump has not committed to signing the budget bills. But that's not because he's upset about Congress' record levels of spending. It's because he wants to spend even more. Specifically, the White House wants $5 billion for the construction of a border wall.

On its current tragectory, America will face a $1 trillion deficit next year. That's equal to the deficits at the height of the Great Recession, when tax revenues fell and government spending exploded thanks to Obama's stimulus. And this time they aren't running a massive deficit during a recession: This comes in the midst of booming economic growth, when it's easier to pay down the debt and balance the books. The economy grew by more than 4 percent in the second quarter, and yet the deficit has grown by 20 percent since October 2017, due to a combination of last year's tax cuts and this year's spending spree.

"Adding to our historic debt at a time of economic strength is baffling and dangerous," says Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, in an op-ed for The Hill. "We should be preparing for the perilous road ahead. Instead, we squandered the opportunity and put debt on an even faster upward path."

The consequences of Congress' spending decisions this year will probably far outlast the consequences of the scandals that attract so much media attention. Every dollar spent this year has to be paid for eventually. Adding trillions to the national debt places a burden on future generations and could hobble future economic growth.

Meanwhile, Republicans' abdication of fiscal responsibility means there is now bipartisan agreement that deficits don't really matter. As Reason's Peter Suderman has noted in The New York Times, that is not something Democrats will forget when they return to power in Washington—and they may be returning to power in the very near future.

Republican hypocrisy about the budget deficit is not new. After all, it was a Democratic administration that last balanced the federal budget, only to have Republicans in Congress and in George W. Bush's White House knock it back out of whack. That paved the way for a new generation of Republican leaders to promise that they would be different and would hold the line. So much for that.

Trump, Stormy, Cohen, and the rest of the characters that have made 2018 such a bonkers year in American political history will eventually fade from prominence. But the bills will come due.

NEXT: Asia Argento's Time Is Up

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  1. Hahahahaha!

    Yeah, our biggest trouble is *Republican* fiscal irresponsibility. Sure. Okay.

    Bring back Niely. He knows what’s up.

    1. They BOTH are. hahahahaha

      Left – Right = Zero

      1. That is the delight of Niely. We don’t have to pretend this bullshit paradigm of R v D means anything, and we get to openly discuss that the entire creaking edifice is failing before our eyes.

        We’re almost certainly going into the history books to be studied as abject warnings to the young, and it will almost certainly not be for Stormy, or Republican fiscal irresponsibility, or any of the myriad other noisy red herrings with which the paradigm distracts itself to sustain itself.

        We don’t need writers to tell us what’s up. We know what’s up. Now we want to talk about it openly.

        1. It just got even worse.

          Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg gets immunity

          Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer for the Trump organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors? This is a very significant story that’s already causing waves in the legal circles around the White House.

          ? Weisselberg has true and deep visibility into the Trump Organization. Trumpworld’s greatest fear is that SDNY investigators start prying deeper into the president’s business affairs. Trump can’t shut down such an investigation by firing Robert Mueller. This one’s out of his hands.

          The tweets are about to get very nasty. He goes back DECADES as Trump’s Chief Financial Officer. Looks like Mueller hopes to wind this up before the midterms.

          Look for the “loans” he got from Deutsche Bank, a convicted money-launderer for Russia ? the ONLY bank that lent to him after all the bankruptcies. We already know he spent over $100 million on properties soon after ? all cash, no mortgages. If that cash traces to Deutsche Bank ? unsecured loans to the America’s worst credit risk ? by a Russian money launder? Do the math, he may literally owe his entire fortune to Russia, and WHY Putin owns him. And 90% those chips have fallen.

          Congressional GOP has MAYBE a week to bail.

          1. Excellent – the noose tightens more.

          2. We’ve been hearing that Mueller is wrapping up since at least Thanksgiving. Mueller has run an incredibly tight ship — the only information coming out of the SC office has been through indictments. He’s been at this a long time…you know he has a contingency plan. He won’t be fired, because then he’d have nothing to lose.

            1. We’ve been hearing that Mueller is wrapping up since at least Thanksgiving.

              Only from Trump’s legal team. All the good lawyers refused to work for a guy who goes off the rails several times a day.

              Mueller shows infimitely more class than Trump.

        2. Mueller is getting fired. Hahaha

          The Rosenstein. Then Sessions.

          1. I kind of hope that he fires Mueller. Mueller has been working through the system, keeping his cards close and only revealing his thoughts through indictments and referrals. If he’s fired, it gives him the freedom to put his contingency plans into effect. Mueller has known it was a possibility since he got hired. He had to have put in contingency plans. Similar to how Comey (Mueller’s friend) had a contingency plan for his firing.

            If he keeps following the Nixon playbook, we know how that ended.

          2. Fever dreams again?

            Mueller is holding back impeachable information until elction 2018? That literally makes him an influencer of an election which is what he was hired to investigate.

            Mueller is guilty of influencing an election! Mystery solved.

            1. You invent your own crazy bullahit … then state a bullssit conclusion … with you as the source!

              It’s been widelty reoported that DOJ not do anything withing 90 days of an election
              Get a better news source, And quit the hysteria

    2. They BOTH are. hahahahaha

      Left – Right = Zero

    3. It’s really not funny. You must be a boomer with no kids or grandchildren.

  2. , and yet the deficit has grown by 20 percent since October 2017, due to a combination of last year’s tax cuts stimulus and Obamacare and this year’s spending spree.


    1. As bad as it was Obamacare added nothing to the deficit, you idiot.

      In other words, it was paid for (something Republicans don’t do).

      1. In other words, it was paid for (something Republicans don’t do).


        Dubya “paid for” Medicare Prescriptions by looting the income tax. Medicare deficits are now stolen from the General Fund, now over $300 billion per year, over 20% of the entire personal income taxes.

        Compare that $300 billion with the entire remaining Trust Fund … errrr … $290 billion

        Medicare spending is now forecast to grow faster than income taxes … so Medicare will steal and ever-growing share of personal income taxes … which the middle class barely pays.

        In fairness, BOTH parties are equally guilty of this moral atrocity. They both conspired against us. Yet again.

        Left – Right = Zero
        That’s why God created libertarians.

        1. A) Term Limits
          B) Get rid of CU

    2. Obamacare and medicare are welfare and add trillions to the national debt.

      Hihn and amsoc agree.

      1. Did you see lc1789’s con game??? He combined Obamacre with Medicare, to support a fact that appleis ONLY to Obamacare.

        If we take a horse and a man we have a human. Who knew?

        Nolan has the TRUTH slightly uppage.
        Like Trump himself, no shame at all.

        And Trump has already added more to the debt than ANY President … before the currrent debt orgy
        (CBO forecast, 8-year impact)

  3. I wonder how many actual voters care about spending and the debt. Outside of a few kooky libertarian “fuck you cut spending” types.

    Hey Congress: fuck. you. cut. spending.

    1. And cutting spending will result in what? You fucking moron you can’t read! You don’t understand economics!! Fuck you! Left + Left = TWO! i.e. an economy that will GROW TWICE AS FAST!

      TRUE LIBERTARIANS like Bernie understand!

  4. Trump DID campaign on increasing spending,
    AND cutting taxes
    BOTH to pay off the federal debt in 8 years!

    NO CUTS to Social Security and Medicare
    AND assure health care for ALL American

    How’s he doin’. Well, in little over a year he has ADDED $10 Trillion to the debt (if he makes an 8th year)
    What did Obama do? Added $9.3 Trillion AFTER 8 years in office

    What did they start with?
    Obama inherited the 2nd worst recession since the 1930s,
    and left Trump with a 7-year recovery, the longest for ANY incoming President.

    It’s like the old joke. Trump was born rich, on 3rd base, and beleebs he hit a triple.
    He was elected on 7th base, and bellebs he hit a grand slam!

    See the first comment here, Hampster of Doom. Is he still laughing?
    As hard as I am?

    1. You’re claiming that Trump added $10 Trillion to the national debt in a year? Citation needed.

      1. Learn how to read,

        Well, in little over a year he has ADDED $10 Trillion to the debt (if he makes an 8th year)
        What did Obama do? Added $9.3 Trillion AFTER 8 years in office

        8 year actual versus 8 year forecast … apples and apples BEFORE this latest spending orgy.

        What did they start with?
        Obama inherited the 2nd worst recession since the 1930s,
        and left Trump with a 7-year recovery, the longest for ANY incoming President.

        Can you name ANY President who increased debt so massively … in a long recovery?
        I didn’t think so,

  5. how is Congress’ 80-year shopaholic-fetish a T-era problem?

    1. Dillinger|8.24.18 @ 1:27PM|#
      how is Congress’ 80-year shopaholic-fetish a T-era problem?

      Ummm, he promised to DRAIN THE SWAMP. He’s already failed, BIGLY, as described immediately above you.

      And as you’ve just admitted, Republicans are no better than Democrats (as we saw under Dubya)

      Any other excuses questions?

      1. can’t tell if satire or raving.

        1. You publicly admit to not knowing Grumo was elected to drain the swamp?

          Any other excuses excuses.

          1. Most reports indicate he was elected to not be Hillary – – – – – – – –
            Swamp draining, if approved by the Corps of Engineers, and actually done, a nice bonus, but not necessary.

        2. Raving. It’s a Hihn-Bot.

          1. gracias.

            1. Appropriating the Spanish language now?


          2. TWO goobers — BYOBD and Dillinger — say it’s “RAVING” to say Trump was elected to “drain the swamp.”

            Anyone else care to support them on that?

      2. Trump is the best president in 100 years.

        Congress is the same old ball-less bunch of clowns for over 100 years.

        1. He has a chance to prove it this time by living up to his promise to “never sign another bill like this again.”

          Serious question for you, what does it say about Trump if he does sign it?

          1. Trump signing those bloated budgets is a fault of his. He should not be doing it. I would bet Congress would override his veto and every Democrat would go on and on about beating Trump.

            On the other hand, its 90%+ Congress’ job to make budget cuts.

            Trump has evidently picked other battles that he won masterfully. Trump has an economy that gets stronger and stronger each day.

            Trump needs to get serious about vetoing the budget at least once.

            1. GOP has lost 7% against Dems … under Trump!

              Gallup’s latest ?(July, 2018)

              This is “affiliation” — how you define yourself. Partisan registrations includes leaners, plus states have widely varying rules.
              Republicans 26%
              Democrats 30%
              Independent 41%

              The link has monthly polling since 2004.

              Compare when Trump took office
              Republican 28%
              Democrat 25%
              Independent 44%

              Both parties have declined under Trump (YAY). Republicans have fallen from +3 to -4, a 7% LOSS under Trump
              Each tribe, of course, beleeeebs, it is the majority. All of America is waiting to be saved by them

              Left – Right = Zero

            2. Maga!

              1. MAGA = My Attorney Got Arrested!

                MAGA = My Advisors Going Away!

                MAGA = My Associates Getting Allocutions!

                MAGA = My Ass (is) Grass Agan

                MAGA = The GOP has collapsed under my Presidency – losing 7% against Democrats.

                BUT = The best President in 100 years.

    2. Because Trump

    3. how is Congress’ 80-year shopaholic-fetish a T-era problem?

      Because Trump (like Dumbya before him) thinks “Deficits Don’t Matter”.

      1. YOU dont think spending matters.

        1. YOU don’t think READING matters!


          Obama reduced both deficit and budget and Obamacare is FREE idiot!!!!!1 so how could that cost any money? *snort*

          You don’t understand economics!!!

      2. You skipped a president.

  6. Unfortunately, this should have been apparent before he was elected. The fiscal hawks lost to Trump, who promised more spending. We are getting it.

    1. Republicans finally learned the lesson that no on actually gives a shit about deficits or debt, so there’s really very little reason why they should care. I mean, you don’t get elected by promising to take things away from people and maybe they’ve finally learned their lesson. The only thing you need to do in the FedGov is raises taxes and raise spending by even more than the taxes. No one will ever hold you accountable. RE: The Democrat Party.

      1. The difference between Reagan and Bush 41 proved that. Reagan governed without thought of deficits, and is beloved. Bush tried to do something about it and lost. Republicans haven’t made that mistake since.

        1. You’re full of shit, Happy Chandler. Google “Grace Commission” and educate yourself

          Peter Grace, a Perot type billiionaire (not a fraud liie Trump) headed up the severe costy-cutitng Reagan was elected on. The Commnission sent hundreds of accountants and senior managers into the departments lookiijg for waste. No Congressional hearings or bureaucrat committees.

          Their proposed cuts would have saved $10 trilliion by 2000 (per Cato). So what happened?
          It was buried in a GOP Senate. Reagan then began asking for a Line-Item-Veto … againt his own party.

          Now google New Federalism, to consolidate “safety net” programs at any ONE level of government for each … so that SOMEBODy could be held accountable. It was all set to go, but Congress fucked that too. They “fiananced” the states on a decklining balance, so THEY would pockert savings creared by states — who walked away.

          Compare that with the current piece of shit in the White House,

      2. Two hihns in a row.

  7. Speaking of the Senate, McCain has refused further brain cancer treatment. It implies he’s dying.

    He knew this for some times and refused to retire from the Senate. He will probably not retire even after his decision.

    That fucker refuses to let the GOP replace him with someone that can show up for votes and block Lefty Democrats from pulling more minority party bullshit.

    1. We could have really used that extra vote on this “Lefty” bill, “as lawmakers voted 85?7.”

    2. McCain was elected. You cannot accept that.

    3. McCain the brain dead maverick.

      1. loveconstitution1789|8.24.18 @ 9:51PM|#
        McCain the brain dead maverick.

        McCain was elected. You cannot accept that.
        And a Trumptard an a-hole.

  8. I don’t know what we’re worried about. Trump promised us he’ll never sign a bill like this again. Force the Republicans running as being “pro-Trump” to override your veto, Mr. President.

    Trump said. “I said to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again.”

    1. This bill is nothing like that bill. That bill had big chunks of wasteful pork barrel spending in it, this bill has only carefully targeted investments in it. See the difference? There’s a big difference between spending and investing, spending is bad, investing is good. Spending makes you poorer, investing makes you richer. Which is why any rational person supports Bernie Sanders’ plan to invest eleventy trillion dollars in education and healthcare and jobs and housing and flying unicorns with zero-emission farts and hundreds of other quality of life issues. As rich a country as we are now, just imagine how much richer we’ll be once we start investing some multiple of the GDP every year in our citizens’ futures! See, you don’t know nothing about investing, Trump’s a genius investor better than anybody in history so you just hush your ignorant mouth.

      1. But honey, I invested my paycheck this week in liquor.

      2. You write for The Onion now!

  9. So, what I’m hearing is that the solution is for Republicans to stop pretending to care about the debt and be like Democrats who never even give it a passing thought, let alone lip service.

    I mean, I don’t disagree that Republicans as a whole don’t care about spending. They care more about what the spending is than they care about the amount. Democrats don’t even really care about the amount OR what it’s spent on, and only talk about reducing the military budget because Republicans want cuts. If Republicans stopped asking for cuts, Democrats would stop talking about cutting the military, too.

    Once Republicans give up the ghost on fiscal responsibility (if they haven’t already), things will be better though right? Because at least they’ll be honest while they fuck us? That’s honestly the best scenario you can hope for at this point, because spending isn’t going to be going down any time soon and it’s a ‘bi-partisan’ issue.

    1. Republicans haven’t given a whit about the deficit under a Republican president since Bush 41. It’s useful to obstruct a Democratic president, however.

    2. Democrats sure do love to spend trillions more than they take in tax revenue.

      1. Democrats sure do love to spend trillions more than they take in tax revenue.

        Trump has added more debt in 1-1/2 years, than Obama added in 8 years (8 year forecast vs 8-year actual, CBO)

        Obama inherited the 2nd worst recession since the 1930s,
        and handed a 7-year expansion to Trump — the longest expansion EVER for an incoming President.

        Trump, handed the longest recovery EVER … adds more debt than EVER (8 year forecast) … BEFORE this new budget

        Is Trump still the Democrat he’s been all his life … now a Trojan Horse for Bernie Sanders?
        How gullible can a Trump Troll be?

  10. Hey, at least they actually came up with a budget…

  11. Don’t lay this at Trump’s feet, the GOP – particularly those in the Senate – have been fiscally irresponsible for decades.

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