During the 2014 elections in my home state of Maryland, there were problems with some of the ballot machines, whereby many ballots cast for Republicans “coincidentally” were automatically rendered as Democrat ballots. With the omnibus deal forged at 2 a.m. last night in Congress, this is essentially what has happened on a national level. People voted for a revolution – to drain the swamp – and out popped a Democrat budget. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find anything different about this budget from the one we would have gotten if Hillary had been elected.
Amazingly, the FY 2017 budget was deliberately held over until this year instead of being completed in October or December 2016, precisely so that the victor of the election would reap the spoils of war. Well, Democrats lost the election but won this year’s budget. The reason why it took an extra few days to forge the “deal” is because once Republicans telegraphed the message that they’d jettison every conservative priority from the budget, Democrats then held out for their priorities. By and large, they got them.
Here is the end result:
- The bill continues funding refugee resettlement and visas from the six countries from which Trump wanted to suspend immediate immigration, despite this budget being the last recourse against the judicial tyranny. The refugee program gets $3.1 billion, the same as it did under Obama.
- Sanctuary cities were funded, despite the judicial tyranny and the need for Congress to weigh in.
- Planned Parenthood was funded, despite the long-standing GOP promise to fight to defund it, even when they only controlled Congress. Yes, they couldn’t even defund a private organization getting taxpayer funds to traffic baby organs.
- Increased spending for a number of liberal priorities rather than codifying Trump’s requested $17 billion in non-defense spending cuts.
- EPA was saved from the cuts proposed for this year by Trump’s OMB.
- A $295.9 million bailout for Puerto Rico’s irresponsible Medicaid program. This is on top of the bailout from last year.
- Sec. 543 of the omnibus contains a provision opening the door for more H2-B low-skilled workers this fiscal year.
- $990 million increase of the “Food for Peace” program in Africa.
- Government-run health care? HHS will see a $2.8 billion boost in spending, of which $2 billion will go to the NIH, which was supposed to be cut by the Trump budget.
- Green energy programs within the Department of Energy, programs Trump would have eliminated, received a modest spending increase.
- The federal judiciary saw its budget increased by three percent, to $7.4 billion, from fiscal 2016, despite engaging in civil disobedience against the rule of law.
- The unconstitutional Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is fully funded despite GOP promises to dismantle it. Richard Cordray is still serving as its director despite the change in administration.
- California’s high-speed rail will continue to be funded by the Federal Rail Administration.
- The border wall. Although $1.5 billion in additional “border security” funds were allocated, Democrats made certain to bar funding for the fence. As I’ve noted before, given the legal problems with those who step foot on our shores and the cumbersome nature of interior enforcement, anything short of the permanent deterrent of a border wall will not solve the problem.
Indeed, the 1,665-page, $1.16 trillion omnibus is everything we would have gotten had Democrats been in charge. After they successfully got Republicans to jettison all of Trump’s priorities, Democrats secured the Puerto Rico bailout. And while the bill does not contain an Obamacare bailout (cost-sharing subsidies), the White House agreed to continue illegally promulgating the insurer bailout without congressional appropriations as part of the condition for Democrats affording Republicans the honor of capitulating to them.
The only plus side of this bill is that the president did secure a $15 billion boost for the military, but Democrats always agree to spending more on the military, as it has become a consensus, albeit without offsetting the cost with cuts to non-defense spending. That is exactly the deal they secured. They increased spending in many of the areas where Trump proposed cuts.
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi is bragging about blocking 160 GOP priorities in the bill!
Some defenders of this deal will claim that we should wait for “the next time.” The president is coming out with the FY 2018 budget this week, and they will fight for it in September. But that budget is a complete joke. If they can’t fight for modest cuts and their basic campaign promises with control of all of government – with the momentum of the first 100 days – they certainly won’t fight later in the year for real spending cuts. Instead, the fear of a shutdown led them to increase spending. That will not change in September.
I would have more sympathy for the president had he not spent the past month attacking conservatives on health care. He should have, instead, been shaming McConnell and the appropriators into funding his priorities the same way he shamed the Freedom Caucus to accept 20 percent repeal of Obamacare. The way for him to distinguish himself from congressional Republicans is to immediately issue a veto threat.
And now we are to believe this administration that we will repeal Obamacare in any meaningful way and get massive tax cuts when it tossed an interception on the first budget! At some point, conservatives need to wake up and smell the political adultery unfolding. Merely shouting “Gorsuch” as if it’s a punchline in itself to distract from the broader betrayal is sophomoric. Of course, we were going to get a decent judge to replace our very best when we have a GOP president, a GOP Senate, and were rid of the SCOTUS filibuster. Then again, I guess if we are judging expectations for judicial picks based on what just happened with the budget, we could have gotten an Elena Kagan.
But fear not, the best is yet to come. Gary Cohn, the Democrat running domestic policy for the administration, is promising a vote on “Obamacare” this week.
Now we can understand why McConnell and the NRSC are threatening anyone who works for Judge Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race: They don’t want anyone elected to the Republican Party who will actually support the Republican budget and GOP platform.
At some point, conservatives need to realize they are just not wanted in the Republican Party.
Editor's note: This article has been updated as an earlier version listed the Puerto Rico bailout as $295.9 billion. Puerto Rico received $295.9 million.