With $30 trillion in debt — which has grown by $5 trillion in the past two years alone, with another $2 trillion in red ink set to be knocked down this year — you might have expected which Congress claims to at least temper its reckless inclinations to spend.
But you would be seriously mistaken. Congress just finalized a $1.5 trillion spending bill that required 2,741 pages of legislative text. The Heritage Foundation calculates that it would take the average MP over 300 hours to read this bill with all its legal gibberish. It is therefore reasonably certain that members of Congress have no idea what they voted for.
Republicans wanted more defense spending on top of the nearly $800 billion we already give the Pentagon each year. The United States spends more on defense than China, Russia, India, Britain, Germany and Japan combined. But that’s not proven enough to protect our country, in part because the Biden administration is spending tens of billions of dollars in the Pentagon on climate change and other green programs, which won’t protect us from incoming missiles. of our enemies.
Meanwhile, Democrats wanted tens of billions more for national programs, including an additional $15 billion for COVID-19 relief. This is in addition to the $4 trillion already authorized since April 2020, with at least $100 billion still unspent. So the deal reached by Republican and Democratic leaders was that both sides would get pretty much what they wanted. Taxpayers will collectively be stuck with another increase in their credit card bill which already has 13 zeros.
House Republicans scored a rare victory (at least temporarily) when they blocked the $15 billion in funding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was seeking for COVID-19, even though tens of billions of money COVID-19 from previous bills have not been spent. Pelosi has threatened to hold the $13 billion in emergency money for Ukraine hostage until she gets the COVID-19 money. When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insisted that COVID-19 money be offset by savings elsewhere in our $6 trillion annual spending, Democrats refused because they couldn’t find nowhere to cut. Pelosi called the result “heartbreaking.” For whom is unclear.
The bottom line: There’s no spending cuts. Any.
But there are big increases in spending. In the Senate, Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Leahy and high-ranking Republican Richard Shelby, who have both served in Congress for a total of 100 years and are longtime friends in the Senate (Politico reports their wives even hang out together ), have accepted a bill they boast contains a 7% increase, the “biggest increase in four years”.
You would think the government was running a $2 trillion surplus, not such a large deficit.
The rumor on Capitol Hill is that many Senate Republicans accepted the deal because Shelby is retiring this year. If only senators had passed a collection basket through the Senate locker room to give the outgoing senator from Alabama a gold watch; think about how much money would have been saved. Instead, taxpayers are being ripped off for tens of billions in extra spending, which arguably makes this bill the most expensive parting gift in the history of the world.
The bill is stuffed with pork, and no one seems bothered. Congress gave itself a 21% increase in clerical staff budgets. There’s $600,000 for lobster traps for Maine fishermen, $2 million for a solar “equity” program, $600,000 for a greenhouse in New York, $4.2 million $1.6 million for a sheep program and $1.6 million for a Rhode Island shellfish program.
At the end of the day, Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer were all smiles because the budget deal funds Biden’s “key national priorities.”
The White House gushed: “The bipartisan funding bill is proof that both parties can come together to serve the American people and advance critical national priorities.”
One small step for Washington and one giant leap towards national bankruptcy. Congratulations, Congress.
Stephen Moore is a syndicated columnist.