Like clockwork, Democrats and Republicans collude before Christmas to bust all budget control mechanisms and pass a so-called omnibus bill that spends trillions on pork and pet projects many of which no one has ever heard of before, but thankfully we avoided a government shut down because the world cannot function without bee-friendly highways built from soy-enabled products.
It’s become close to an annual tradition, though one that would be much better honored in the breach. As we approached the holidays, a funding deadline loomed, threatening a government shutdown if Congress and the President could not come to an agreement on spending. The shutdown threat was perceived as so severe that regular order simply could not be followed. Spending could not possibly have been proposed and debated by department with each allocated funds based on their specific needs and importance in terms of the government’s overall priorities. Nor could it be questioned too closely as the monstrosity only emerged from the classic backroom filled with smoke at the eleventh hour. Besides, if one were to ask too many questions, they would necessarily have been in favor of shutting down the government, or siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin, or some other arbitrary political attack that completely failed to take into account the insanity of the process itself. This year, the bill clocked in at well over 4,000 pages long, combining a raft of budgetary proposals totaling a whopping $1.7 trillion with a disturbingly wide variety of changes to existing laws, making it a budget bill on the one hand and something else entirely on the other. A Frankenstein monster of legislation if ever there was one. The final language of the bill was released last Tuesday. It was voted on by the Senate before the end of day Thursday and the House on Friday, just in time for Congress to enjoy the Christmas holiday while fitting the rest of us with the bill. Of course, no one in Washington or otherwise honestly believes the representatives voting for this bill actually read it. The idea of reading legislation and debating the provisions is out dated to the corrupt frauds and incompetent fools who run our government. They don’t have time for such niceties as actually knowing what’s in a bill or why. They just know they can’t ask too many questions, or something very, very bad will happen. The idea that operating a close to $6 trillion government like their own personal piggy bank filled by the American taxpayer and foreign borrowing is a truly awful, unsustainable thing never occurs to them, or at least never comes up in polite conversation.
It will be days if not weeks before we know the full extent of what was included in this monstrosity, much less the unintended consequences and long-term ramifications. What we know so far can only be described as an orgy of wasteful, unnecessary, borderline ridiculous spending assembled literally in the dark of night by people we cannot reasonably believe have our best interests at heart. You might say there is something for everyone except sanity for the American taxpayer. Perhaps even worse, much of it is vague and almost nonsensical. For example, $575 million to “should be made available for family planning/reproductive health, including in areas where population growth threatens biodiversity or endangered species.” No one has any idea what that means or how this money will be spent, save that it appears to be birth control and potentially abortion related and it mentions the environment, which must make it good. There is $410 million to “remain available” to reimburse Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman for “enhanced border security” without any details about how that money might be spent. Nor is the bill coherent, the almost half a billion for enhanced border security in the Middle East is right alongside $1.56 billion for “border management requirements” in the United States, requirements which exclude the ability to “acquire, maintain, or extend border security technology and capabilities” and a mandate to pursue only “non-detention border management requirements.” In other words, we’re securing borders around the world, but not at home despite record breaking surges in illegal border crossings with no end in sight. The insanity of the situation was underlined by a last minute amendment offered by conservative Senator Mike Lee. He proposed a simple up or down vote on keeping the Title 42 pandemic restrictions in place that allow agents to expel people from the border for health concerns. It seemed an obvious enough compromise – at least if Congress would not fund additional border security, the current measures could remain, but apparently, nothing can stand in the way of the open borders agenda or the parliamentary tricks required to advance it. Rather than hold a simple vote, Chuck Schumer and his allies came up with the scheme of competing amendments. Senators Kyrsten Sinema, a newly minted independent, and Democrat Jon Tester proposed a plan to block any funds for ending Title 42 rather than on outright ban and $8.7 billion for border security. This amendment would require 60 votes to pass and ultimately went down in flames 10-87 as planned, but it effectively killed Senator Lee’s provision because wavering Democrats could claim they voted for border security while knowing full well they rejected it. Bizarre and shameful doesn’t begin to describe it – they voted for something they knew would not pass to avoid voting for something they knew just as surely would pass, betraying their principles and constituents in the process.
These are not the only open border friendly spending priorities, either. There’s another $97.4 million for the Labor Department to support migrant and seasonal workers including providing housing, $29 million for the Justice Department to support a “Legal Orientation Program” for illegal aliens, $25 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Integration Grant Program, up from $10 million just two years ago, and another $13 million to offer migrant workers access to the early education Head Start Program. Elsewhere, departments within the US government that have recently come under scrutiny for a unique combination of corruption and incompetence will be rewarded. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention which hid key data during the pandemic, recommended draconian prevention measures with little or even no benefit, and initially botched the roll out a workable testing program will be lavished with a 42% increase in funding, rising from $6.5 billion in 2019 to $9.2 billion next year. In addition to challenges handling the pandemic, the CDC is 16 years behind schedule on a mandate to digitize their records, but surely they need a lot more money and can be trusted to spend it wisely. The National Institutes of Health, which also failed miserably to identify the origins of the coronavirus or manage the pandemic and whose leadership lied about funding gain of function research, would see an increase of 5.6%, up to $47.5 billion. An additional $1.5 billion would go to fund health related research through a program known as Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. The difference between the funding streams? “Whereas most NIH proposals are ‘curiosity-driven,’ ARPA-H ideas would be largely ‘use-driven’ research—that is, research directed at solving a practical problem.” The IRS would also see a huge increase in funding, another $80 billion, including limousine service for the chief, and a doubling of their agents which will surely be unleashed on American taxpayers in short order. The Department of Justice and the FBI, which were recently revealed to be spending thousands of hours and millions of dollars to police bad jokes on Twitter, is perhaps the biggest winner. They receive $11.3 billion directly to the FBI and another $2.6 billion for US Attorneys, including efforts “to further support prosecutions related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol and domestic terrorism.” There is also somewhere around $500 million for a new FBI headquarters because clearly we need more agents at more lavish offices trolling Twitter.
The rest of the bill appears to be a random laundry list of competing priorities, a figurative Christmas tree festooned with rotting pork. There’s the requisite $47 billion to aid Ukraine’s war effort, even though not all of the existing money has been spent and no one even knows what this money is being spent on. We just know we have to spend it forever. There’s $200 million for the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund and $70 million to protect Pacific Coast Salmon, which are so important apparently, the word “salmon” appears 48 times, and the funding is provided in two parts, one for $65 million and another for $5 million. There’s another $65.7 million for international fisheries commissions. $13 million to expand an airport in a remote part of Alabama. $7.5 million to study “the domestic radicalization phenomenon,” and $5.5 million for a combination of water infrastructure and harbor improvements for an island in Alaska, a cost of $82,000 per resident. $4.8 million for an environmental impact report on rail transit in Chicago, $4 million for “Soy-Enabled Rural Road Construction,” because who knew that was a thing and, whatever it actually is, it is highly doubtful lawmakers even knew what they were voting for. $3 million for bee-friendly highways, another thing that apparently sprung into existence recently, $3.6 million to build a trail in Georgia to honor former First Lady Michelle Obama, and funds for a Ukraine Independence Park in DC. $1.5 million to encourage people to eat outdoors in lovely Pasadena, California. There’s $1.1 million for a solar array in overcast Kirkland, Washington, $2 million to support dirt-bike culture in Baltimore because why not, and who could forget $2.35 million for a Leahy Center in Vermont, in honor of Senator Patrick Leahy, who proposed the honor for himself and paid for it with your money, because what could be a more fitting example of how these corrupt plutocrats really think?
Otherwise, we know for certain that they do not feel the need to follow their own rules. Rules, you see, are for you and me and all the little guys. In government, they can do whatever they want, however they want, and you should simply stay out of the way. In 2010, Congress passed the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go-Act which was supposed to prevent increases in the federal budget deficit. “The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (often called S-PAYGO) established procedures to control the effects of newly enacted legislation on the deficit by constraining increases in spending and reductions in revenues,” as the Congressional Budget Office describes it. In principle, any new spending is supposed to be offset by either tax increases or reductions in other spending. The goal was to prevent the government from continually piling on debt, but neither the massively unnecessary $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last year nor the falsely named Inflation Reduction Act earlier this year conformed to the standard. As a result, the PAYGO act was supposed to trigger $132 billion in spending cuts in January., but Congress simply decided to waive the provision – not rewrite it, not reconsider it, not even look at the implications, just waive it entirely, piling even more debt on a total of over $30 trillion. This comes after President Biden and his fellow Democrats have embarked on an unprecedented spending spree, showering hundreds of billions of dollars on everything and everyone, from microchips to schools. Overall, the federal deficit for the past several years appears to be almost satire, numbers so high, one wouldn’t think they were possible in this universe: In 2019, it was $984 billion, in 2020 it was $3.1 trillion, in 2021 it was $2.8 trillion, and last year it was $1.4 trillion. The result is that interest on the debt has skyrocketed and is expected to hit $1.2 trillion in less than ten years. “If you’re borrowing more and more every year on autopilot to fund programs that we promised, which [you] lack the revenue to pay for, you then have a compounding problem where interest on the debt compounds and just adds to the burden,” explained Michael A. Peterson, chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation to The Boston Globe. Astute readers will note that President Biden was not in office for the first 2.5 years of these figures. Much as I would like to blame the Democrats for this debacle, Republicans are equally complicit. In fact, no one is really sure why Republicans proceeded with this omnibus measure in the first place when they will control the House of Representatives next week and can enforce something resembling regular order on the budget process. Instead, eighteen Republicans in the Senate and nine in the House voted for this monstrosity, breaking all regular procedures, principles of fiscal restraint, and important laws to limit the deficit to pass a bill that makes no sense at all, spends too much on too many ridiculous things, and hands the President yet another political victory heading into the new year.
Shameful and pathetic doesn’t begin to describe it. I know I’ve said this before, but with friends like these, who needs enemies?