Free Minds & Free Markets

Congress Just Passed a $150 Billion Spending Package Without Any Consideration for Looming Trillion-Dollar Deficit

Just days after the latest CBO projections showed the deficit getting worse, Congress signs off on another bi-partisan spending increase.

Ron Sachs/CNP / Polaris/NewscomRon Sachs/CNP / Polaris/NewscomIn a sane world, the news that America will run a trillion-dollar deficit in the next fiscal year would cause at least enough of a stir in Congress to make lawmakers at least a little nervous about their budget votes.

After all, it was support for runaway spending and the specter of a trillion-dollar deficit that cost lawmakers on both sides of the aisle their congressional seats during the conservative Tea Party uprising less than a decade ago. Now that the Congressional Budget Office says we are on course for a return to trillion-dollar deficits—and not during an economic downturn, but at the peak of the business cycle—it would seem appropriate for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to be wary about their role in pushing the country across that symbolic threshold.

Instead, it's quite the opposite. Congress just passed a $150 billion spending bill—the first of three to be considered in the coming days—with bipartisan support and without significant opposition from the leadership of either party. The bill passed 377-20 in the House on Thursday afternoon, after clearing the Senate with a 92-5 vote on Wednesday.

That's a mere 25 "nays" (20 of them Republicans, five Democrats) on a major spending bill that promises to add to billions to the deficit. A spending bill that passes less than 48 hours after the CBO revealed that America's budget deficit had grown by $220 billion during the current year.

There is clearly no appetite in Congress for addressing the deficit. What strikes me as more worrying is the complete lack of concern on the part of the public. Is it because Trumpism has consumed the populist right and redirected its anger about government spending into endless culture war outrages? Is it that the public has become numb to the threat of trillion-dollar deficits, to the point where that symbolic threshold has lost it's power to spur action? It's probably a bit of both of those things, combined with the fact that Republicans only seem to care about deficits when Democrats are in charge—a phenomenon that boosts Democratic calls for more spending when they control things.

But this isn't really a right-versus-left issue, as today's bipartisan vote shows. High levels of government debt suppress long-term economic growth, something that will make all future political goals harder to achieve, and will reduce everyone's standard of living.

The right time to have a debate over government spending was back in February when leaders in both chambers agreed to a two-year deal to hike spending on both the military and human services. The budget bills being passed this week are just filling in the line items. Still, with these votes happening so close to the CBO's announcement that the budget deficit has grown faster than expected, well, you'd expect some grandstanding or some floor speeches or some something from a few members of Congress, even if full scrutiny of the spending package is too much to ask.

Instead, pretty much all we got was a tweet from reliably budget-conscious Rep. Justin Amash.

The gap between what the government spends and what it takes in will grow next year, with spending set to increase by 7 percent during Fiscal Year 2019 while revenue will grow by only 1 percent. That's thanks to a combination of tax cuts and spending increases approved over the past 12 months by the Republican-controlled Congress.

The budget bills passing this week—Thursday's House vote sends a so-called "mini-bus" of funding for military programs, the Department of Energy, and includes Congress' own budget—will avert a possible government shutdown on Oct. 1. Despite the lack of funding for a border wall, President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bills.

Photo Credit: Ron Sachs/CNP / Polaris/Newscom

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  • Mike Laursen||

    $150 isn't that bad.

  • BestUsedCarSales||


  • Mcgoo95||

    Not bad at all.....

  • Procyon Rotor||

    Yeah, but $150 here, $150 there... pretty soon, you're talking about real money.

  • Procyon Rotor||

    Yeah, but $150 here, $150 there... pretty soon, you're talking about real money.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    One here, another there, pretty soon you're talking about real squirrels.

  • Procyon Rotor||

    It's my first time being squirrel-bitten. I am at once embarrassed, and feeling like I finally belong.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There's an election in six weeks. I'd love to think the American people are about to punish their representatives at the ballot box. It's not as if the Democrats were criticizing Republicans for being big spender anyway. This is what happens when the opposition goes all TDS, I guess. Make it all about the personality of the president, and why would we expect people to focus on the issues? Even here at Hit & Run, people might be forgiven for thinking that the main reasonreason to support free trade and immigration is because Trump is against them. Maybe it's a good thing people aren't talking about the deficit yet. Maybe as long as they don't associate it with Trump, there's still hope.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Election? What good would that do? Both parties slathered on the spending. How many candidates actually complain about too much spending?

  • James Pollock||

    "How many candidates actually complain about too much spending?"

    Republicans complain about spending, when they aren't in position to direct the spending.
    Democrats don't complain about spending, but they're honest about wanting to spend, and what they want to spend on.

    You flips your coin, and you makes your choice.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Yes Ken, we know.

    If Republicans do something good, then Reason deserves blame for not giving them enough credit.
    If Republicans do something bad, then Reason deserves blame for always focusing on Trump so much.

  • Ken Shultz||

    My response was eaten by the gerbils.

    Suffice it to say that not being able to understand where other people stand on spending unless you understand in relation to Democrats and Republicans is akin to not being able to understand what people are talking about in regards to immigration and free trade--unless you filter it through your perception of Trump.

    . . . that latter bit, of course, is what TDS is all about. The former isn't much different.

    Pull your head out.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    This is what happens when the opposition goes all TDS

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yes, TDS is all about not being able to see the issues past Trump, and why should it be surprising that voters are ignoring an important issue like spending when the opposition has gone all TDS?

    Why is that so hahard to understand?

  • Ron||

    Your correct Ken people are having to vote to protect a candidate instead of voting for a cause. We would rather they vote for causes but even in this time i would have to vote for Trump just to keep the socialist at bay as long as possible. Trump is a big spender as with everyone else but the fighting to day is not about spending its about how racist everyone else is.

    its amazing that in this day and age Trump is actually the sane person out there even amongst most republicans

  • JesseAz||

    Jeff... Did you see the vote numbers dummy? It's not a republican issue, it's a Congress issue. My god man. Grow up.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Fire them all. Vote for new people.

  • Conchfritters||

    This is pretty much my reaction, but people don't give a shit about the national debt. I mean a few do, but for most people it isn't even a factor in how they vote.

  • Nardz||

    So, faggot (stronger together!), what would you like to cut?
    I, and I think most here, don't like the high levels of spending of our government... so you're preaching to the choir there.
    Got anything else? Any ideas?
    No? Just bitching?
    I dont think you actually want solutions.
    I think you write these articles just to maintain your "libertarian" credentials, so you can continue preaching crypto-progressivism.
    Gotta keep fronting for our rightful feudal lords. After all, can't allow the Ds to lose any more votes.
    "Look! Rs are just as bad as Ds, so you might as well not vote... but if you are gonna vote, do it for the Ds - because Reason"

  • Echospinner||

    As If R and D were the only choices.

    Perhaps you belong to one of those. Libertarians are neither.

  • Just Say'n||

    Are we talking about the same LP that totally will cut spending but then nominates candidates that advocate for universal healthcare?

  • Just Say'n||

    Or are we talking about those principled libertarian candidates who support forced inoculation before backing off that position and then endorses a carbon tax before backing off that position and then endorses a burka ban before backing off that position?

    With consistency like that, surely they'll hold firm on spending

  • JesseAz||

    Or advocate for a welfare funded open borders state like Jeff and most reason writers.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Or advocate for a welfare funded open borders state like Jeff and most reason writers.

    Oh blah blah blah. I don't advocate for "a welfare funded open borders state" and you know that.

    What I also don't do is tolerate the bullshit complaints about welfare coming from the closed border crowd.

    They always seem to come up with a million and one excuses on why it's never a good time to recognize the freedom of association and freedom of movement for all people. If it wasn't welfare, then it would be "they're stealing our jerbs", or "muh culture", or "shithole countries", or "they're rapists and murderers". Perhaps all of these other arguments are just arguments of convenience, deployed tactically only as necessary, and not to be taken seriously.

  • Nardz||

    I'll get back to you when the Ls become principled and/or viable.

  • Echospinner||

    Which one red or blue?

  • Nardz||

    Not a R.
    Almost certain to never vote D.
    In 4 presidential elections I've been eligible to vote in, I've voted L once and R twice (though this most recent one barely counts as a R).
    I cast one vote in 2016.
    I'm in a swing state now, for the moment, so I'll be voting R for Senate.
    Don't know if any Ls are running around here.

    I am a registered independent.
    Most importantly, I'm above all else anti-Progressivism (except for Ocasio Cortez, who is both non-threatening and spirited, and Tulsi Gabbard, a foreign policy realist - don't know that I could ever vote for either).

    Nothing is more important, in these times, than the defeat of progressivism.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Nothing is more important, in these times, than the defeat of progressivism.

    Is that so.

    Does it even matter then what Progressivism is replaced with, in your view?

  • FlameCCT||

    Progressivism is just Communism with better propaganda!

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Nothing is more important, in these times, than the defeat of progressivism.

    So then just cut the crap and go sign up for Team #MAGA already. What are you doing here?

  • DesigNate||

    Team MAGA are fucking progressive's too. They're just a different flavor.

  • Echospinner||

    Libertarians everywhere are awaiting that decision.

  • SQRLSY One||

    "...what would you like to cut?"

    Every last dime that is spent by the Secret Service, in the name of protecting Der TrumpfenFuher!!!

    Call me TDS, but... Protecting Der TrumpfenFuher is like pouring gasoline on this dumpster fire here!

    Der TrumpfenFuhrer has proposed partial repudiation of the fed-guv's debts. Wait to see what happens to "full faith and credit" in USA bonds after that happens!!!

  • JesseAz||

    You're not TDS. You're just a fucking idiot.

  • Nardz||

    Ha - that's what I was going to say!

    There are three people whose comments I autoscroll over: Hihn (in all his Hihncarnations), Rev, and Squirrelsy.

    No value in their ramblings.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Your gonardz are way too small, but at least they're bigger than your brains!

  • Just Say'n||

    Is this the same Justin Amash who totally will vote for any spending cuts, but then votes present when the proposal to cut funds for Planned Parenthood comes up?

    I think I understand why we're unable to cut spending

  • Jerryskids||

    I thought the Chinese tariffs were going to pay for the deficit, just like the Mexicans paid for the wall.

  • Conchfritters||

    Deficits?? Republicans don't give a fuuuuuuck!

  • Don't look at me.||

    None of them do. Vote them out.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Incidentally, anybody, libertarian or otherwise, who opposed the ObamaCare reform bill, which Trump promised to sign if they got it to his desk, has no business complaining about spending.

    "CBO and JCT estimate that, over the 2017-2026 period, enacting this legislation would reduce direct spending by $1,022 billion"

    $772 billion of that would have been cut from Medicaid--a socialist program.

    Anybody and everybody who opposed that bill for what it didn't do has no business being on a high horse about a lack of spending cuts today. That was the last hurrah for spending reductions in congress, and the goal of cutting spending was practically abandoned not only after that bill but also because of its defeat.

    If you can't even get a libertarian publication to support a bill that cuts $1.022 trillion in spending, why bother trying to impress the rest of electorate with budget cuts?

  • Just Say'n||

    Chemjeff, Ken mocked socialists. That's not libertarian, right? Tell him about how important it is to cut spending while defending socialists

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't get what you're saying.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    And neither did Jeff.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    What are you even talking about?

    Yes, cut spending.

    No, don't defend state-run socialism.

  • Just Say'n||

    "state-run socialism", because we are to pretend that there are any other who will totally not just go to state authorities to impose their agenda.

    You are my favorite parody account, radical collectivist

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    You are not even making sense.

  • David Nolan||

    You finally see i. Buit do you know why?
    You touch on it just a bit later.

  • Longtobefree||

    Can I defend non-state-run socialism?
    Can I ever find out what the hell that would be?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Voluntary socialism? Sure go right ahead.

  • David Nolan||

    Voluntary socialism

    The Israeli kibbutz?
    The Oneidans?
    Hundreds of religious communes?
    HIPPIE communes?
    The communism endorsed by Ayn Rand? Voluntary, not state, so MUST be stamped to death by authoritarians both left and right. (The authoritarian right dominates THIS commentariat)

    When hippie communes were all the rage, Rand defended them! They met the CORE standard of her moral philosophy. "The moral is the chosen" ANYTHING freely chosen. Prove THAT wrong, fuckers!

    Rothbard and his ilk veered off into NAP -- which defends the very worst racism, bigotry, homophobia l ... authoritarianism.

    Liberty is NOT the absence of force, It's the presence of the freely chosen for .... anything.
    Absence of force is the CONSEQUENCE of free choice. Not its core,

    Absence of force -- today -- justifies the racism and homophobia ... at the very core of Paulistas, Miseans, Rothbardians, an-caps ... the whole sick-fuck mess.

    They deny choice, not by force, but by denying equal rights -- an entire philosophy comprised of special rights. Not by whose rights are defended. To whom they deny rights. Niggers and fags. And originally women. And so self-righteous.

    It requires NO force to deny rights
    No force to deny woman's suffrage.
    No force to deny marriage equality -- first to those of different races ... then of the same sex..
    No force to deny ... citizenship
    Historically - no force to deny property rights to women.


  • David Nolan||

    Part 2/3 LIBERTY'S ROOTS

    Ron Paul literally tried to forbid SCOTUS from even considering any appeals to DOMA. Denial of rights. When he lost. he said "rogue judges" overturned DOMA. Denial of rights. The slaver has been attacking Judicial Review for decades, originally as an OVERT racist. Judicial Review defends the 9th and 14th Amendments from ... SELECTIVE denial of rights. Cannot be allowed in Ron/Rand's gulag. of Chosen Ones.

    Rand's Presidential campaign KISSED ASS of the authoritarian theocrats. Called for nationwide tent revivals, to protest the severe threat of … equal rights. (marriage equality)

    Ron Paul is the spiritual godfather of today's alt-right, neo-nazis and white supremacists.
    And Trumpism. Hence, the treasonous (to liberty) Trumpism of Rand.

    Dumbfuck Ron says marriage is a religious event. FACT: not a religious sacrament until 1500 years after the death of Christ. See his sick fuck principle? HE denies an INDIVIDUAL right to marriage. Government cannot grant rights. But the church can? WTF? If Al Sharpton is a race hustler, then Ron/Rand Paul is a liberty hustler.

    Want to see rage? On this page? Call out either Pauls as authoritarian bigots. FEEL the intense rage and hatred. Without the Pauls, Miseans and Rothbardians ... there is no more cover to their authoritarianism … their INNATE bigotry.


  • David Nolan||

    Part 3/3 LIBERTY'S ROOTS

    An-caps scream in rage. There can be no authoritarianism without force, and only the state uses force. they proclaim in triumph. See their mind-control?

    NAP defines authoritarian as ONLY force. DESTROY them with a simple question.

    Have you never seen an authoritarians boss?

    They cannot see the authoritarianism of their Masters, who enslave ... their minds. They define liberty to permit the DENIAL of rights at the core of Jeffersons "just government."

    Ayn Rand endorsed "consent of the governed." CHOOSING a VOLUNTARY association, no different than Kiwanis, which REALLY pisses off their controlled minds.

    That's why LibertarianISM (the ideology) is REJECTED by 91% of all libertarIANS (the values). Per Cato.

    … Why did hippie communes fail? One mistake, Rand said. They thought they had to become farmers. Decades later, Showtime showed a private commune, 5 or 6 married couples making corporate videos. Their entire business is communally owned, as is their residence (jointly owned condominiums

    How many such communes are in your city? Saying "fuck off, slaver" to the authoritarian right. AND left?

    Many progressives call PRIVATE co-ops, controlled by members, socialist. They support Bernie for the same reason many on the right seek a state religion. Nobody is defends their rights as ... voluntary choice.

    Liberty is a mutual benefit society
    Not a members-only country club
    The moral is the chosen.

  • Bronze Khopesh||

    While how the US handles health care issues is horrible and could be better, reducing spending by that amount would remove about $3900 in spending power from each individual and over $10,000 from families.

    That would lead to serious negative consequences.

    Unless, of course, prices rapidly declined to match the new level of money in the economy. Most likely that would not happen, leaving people in a far worse spot than if they had the money and the government programs stayed the same size.

  • Just Say'n||

    Yes, we should be concerned about the impact of cutting spending and therefore no spending will ever be cut. You guys are so reflexively conservative it's hilarious

  • Ken Shultz||

    Are you factoring in the fact that the bill under consideration would have cut that $1.022 trillion in spending--over a period of ten years?

  • JesseAz||

    How the hell did you get a dig in on trump when this passed the Senate by 2/3rds majority easily?

  • loveconstitution1789||


  • Tony||

    Trump dosn't know what he's signing. He barely knows how to use the toilet! He has a butler tie his tie. Blameless innocent babe.

  • ThomasD||

    Discussing the deficit is about as productive as arguing over the starting lineup of the Washington Generals.

    When a drunken sailor keeps spending you don't ask about the tab you stop giving him money.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Look, we all know that starving the beast will never work when it comes to government spending. That's why we need to cut the defense budget, because starving the beast will totally work when it comes to government spending intervention.

    And just look at the devastation that the tax cuts provided. Revenue increased 1%, which is totally a cut. Or something

  • Bronze Khopesh||

    Maybe people don't care about the "debt" because deep down they know it's not their problem.

    Or if they do fret about it, the size of their "share" is so large that there's no way they'll ever be able to pay it and therefore, again, stops being their problem.

    Do any of you worry how your bank is going to pay off it's CDs? No? Then why worry about the so-called debt of this country? Whatever the amount of interest or the amount of maturing Ts have to be paid they will be paid. The US government does not bounce checks. It creates the money. It has an inexhaustible supply of money. Money that there will always be demand for, giving it value.

    The debt/gdp ratio means nothing as even a cursory look at a list of countries by their ratio will show. There are horrible countries with low ratios right in the same bound with much better countries that have worse ratios.

    Switzerland and Cameroon are in the same place on "debt". Where would you rather live? South Sudan vs. New Zealand? Haiti vs. Denmark? Or how about Japan (highest) vs. Libya (second lowest)? Which choice would give you the best chance at a quality existence? The ratio would not matter to you at all, which is as it should be.

    As to government spending, the money spent becomes someone's income and is spent on things that make them better off (subjectively anyway). So what it's spent on may be a problem, and as long as we're not seeing a major increase in inflation, the fact that's it out there isn't a problem.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    You are a moron. That is all.

  • Rich||

    The right time to have a debate over government spending was back in February

    This assertion could serve as the start of a National Conversation. You know, like the one on race.

  • NoVaNick||

    Funny how the only thing that both Ds and Rs agree on is to spend more. Who will be the one stuck holding the bag when it all hits the fan in a year or two?

  • Bronze Khopesh||

    No one.

  • Tony||

    Except Republicans spend more.

    Every time you make this equivalence, the Republicans spend another $1 trillion. So stop it.

  • Sarah Palin's Buttplug||

    Contrast with Obama's first term:

    In the four years since 2009, the final budget year under President George W. Bush, federal spending has fallen by $63 billion, or 0.45%. It's the first decline in federal spending over a four-year presidential term since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office just after World War II.

    GOP = "Spending like drunken sailors" (John McCain)

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Your link is broken to that citation.

  • DesigNate||

    Something happened in 2010 and 2012, I can't for the life of me remember...

  • Heraclitus||

    This was all predicted. It was pointed out many times in 2016 that the GOP runs up deficits while the Dems lower them despite the GOP rhetoric. The saddest thing of all is that there is no, absolutely no talk of economic cycles and the need to lower deficits during good economic times so that we can spend our way out of a recession. But we used to always have this debate. There is consensus that the economy is doing well but that is because the GOP injected sugar into the economic bloodstream via massive tax cuts. It was a giant stimulus package that was not needed at the time. We are riding on a sugar high that will soon crash and leave us lethargic for years to come with very few tools at our disposal to get out of it.

  • JFree||

    What strikes me as more worrying is the complete lack of concern on the part of the public.

    20 years of subsidized interest rates will do that. We have no more idea of what actual cost of capital is than we do of what life was like before the Internet. Treasury Dept (interest on public debt even at the current distorted rate) is the 4th largest govt outlay now - and should pass Defense this/next year. That is the one expense that is permanent and passed down to the nextgen to pay for their entire lives.

    A return to normal interest rates is the only thing that will force the difficult spending decisions. That interest spending (not any desire for smaller govt) is the only thing that has the ability to force reform of SS/Medics/DoD. And it will hit the public like a 2x4 to the face.

  • Longtobefree||

    Actually, they considered the deficit.
    They considered it irrelevant.

  • David Nolan||

    Trump's debt is now worse than Obama's. Already.

    Without major changes, higher taxes or lower spending, Trump will have added more debt in 8 years than Obama in his 8. And Trump did in much less than 2 years, what took Obama 8 years.

    This is even more irresponsible when we realize Trump inherited the 2nd worst recession since the 1930s, and handed Trump the longest recovery for an incoming President EVER, Obama paid for the bailouts and a failed stimulus, Trump paid for ... Trump SAID he'd pay off the entire debt im 8 years, so he missed that promise by a mere $31 Trillion!, In a way that's good. China owns so high a share of our debt that they could destroy the dollar and our economy, lose all their debt holdings amd be the largest and healthiest economy in the world. After all those trillion in losses, China's government would still have a net positive asset value,

    Trump and his cult are, of course, claiming yet another victory. I heard one sneering, "Surpluses? As if we were goddamn COMMUNISTS?" And, "Don't forget,Hillary would have been even worse!"

    I now call them the New Deal Republicans, under a President who'd been a Democrat for the vast majority of his life, Now we know what he meant by "draining the swamp."

    Should we start learning Chinese?


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