This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, December 17, 2014:
If the Guinness Book of Records had a category for “political taradiddles,” this from Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland and the Senate’s Appropriations Committee Chairman, would certainly qualify for its top ten. After all was said and done, after all the back-room deals had been completed, after Senator Ted Cruz’s last minute attempt to stall the vote by claiming that the CRomnibus bill would unconstitutionally fund Obama’s immigration executive order without debate was quashed 74-22, Mikulski exulted:
It is remarkable in today’s era of slam-down politics that we, working on this committee, have been able to set aside our differences, work across the aisle, work across the Dome, to find a way to compromise without capitulation on principles.
The only word with validity that she used was “capitulation” – total and complete surrender – by the Republicans, the party still perceived by many to be the party of small government, fiscal responsibility, and personal liberty. The sell-out was nearly complete,
with 24 Republicans coming to the aid of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was dealing with defections from his rank and file over various parts of the bill. Every member of the Republican leadership voted for the bill, including Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.
It was more than enough to cover defections by Democrats who safely voted “nay” to fool the rubes at home or to polish their credentials for the next election. Those would include Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. With the exception of party, it also includes that Republican stalwart of 30 years’ standing John McCain (who conveniently just announced his intentions to run for a sixth term and didn’t want a “yea” vote to sully his resume).
The bill was a vile combination of 12 funding requests and a continuing resolution to keep the government operational until September. Every one (save funding for the Department of Homeland Security) was passed as requested. DHS funding runs out in February, at which time, Senator Ted Cruz hopes, there will be enough new Republican backbone in Congress to take on Obama’s illegal immigration executive order and defund it then. Wise observers of the Washington scene won’t be holding their breaths.
The bill contains everything Wall Street and the banks wanted: pushback against Dodd-Frank that otherwise would have required them to separate their gambling casinos – hedging with derivatives – from their regular banking services. That separation, had it taken place, would have removed taxpayer guarantees from their casinos in case their derivatives bets went south which, in turn, would have exposed the banks’ balance sheets to unacceptable risks.
Wealthy political donors got what they wanted, as well, with caps on donations now being extended to – ready? – $1.55 million to their political party of choice.
There was scarcely a request that didn’t get funded: the war against ISIS ($64 billion), the Ebola scare ($5.4 billion), more federal money to entice local police departments to give up more of their sovereignty (the bill calls them “community policing programs”).
The bill contained odd little intrusions into private affairs, as well: School districts are allowed to deviate slightly from the First Lady’s demands about proper nutrition, pension trustees managing plans that don’t have federal guarantees will now be able to “adjust” their payouts rather than just flat default altogether. And it enjoins the District of Columbia for enacting a local ordinance passed there allowing the recreational use of marijuana.
High speed rail projects were left unfunded, as well as the funding of body cameras for local police officers that Obama wanted. In addition, funding for the president’s “Race to the Top” program was discarded for the time being along with a planned gift to the International Monetary Fund.
David Stockman, Reagan’s head of his Office of Management and Budget (OMB) until he got sick and tired of Reagan’s ignoring economic reality and now commenting on the passing political scene from his Stockman’s Contra Corner, was livid:
Notwithstanding all the palaver about the shrinking deficit, here we are deep into the 6th year of so-called recovery and the national debt is still being jacked-up….
Washington’s utter nonchalance about this dangerous condition is owing to the tyranny of the Fed’s free money-fueled Wall Street casino.
At the present rate of spending as projected by the Congressional Budget Office, the national debt is expected to rise by between $8 trillion and $15 trillion in just 10 years. This far outpaces the projected growth in the economy, as noted by Stockman:
US nominal GDP is not likely to exceed $24 trillion 10 years from now, whereas the public debt could easily exceed $33 trillion under current “kick-the-can” policies.
Boston University Professor Laurence Kotlikoff thinks the CBO is off by at least a factor of six: the real national debt exceeds $200 trillion when all the government’s promises are accounted for.
Completely oblivious not only to that economic reality, but ignoring their oaths to support and defend the Constitution, Senators in both parties on Saturday confirmed Pat Buchanan’s assessment when he wrote this in 1999:
Today I am ending my lifelong membership in the Republican Party…
Candor compels us to admit that our vaunted two-party system is a snare and a delusion, a fraud upon our nation.
Our two parties have become nothing but two wings of the same bird of prey….
Wall Street Journal: A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress
The Hill: Senate passes $1.1T funding bill
RedState.com: CRomnibus passes because of GOP support
Buchanan.org: The New Patriotism – same birds of prey quote