As you probably know by now, the budget and debt ceiling deal I wrote about a few days ago has officially passed the House of Representatives. And while it’s true that it runs contrary to every principle that Republicans campaigned on when they convinced America to give them the majority in 2010, the policy and political implications of this legislation will be far-reaching with severe consequences.
So, how bad is it? In an opinion piece on Conservative Review, Daniel Horowitz gives seven reasons why this betrayal will probably be the end of the Republican party:
1. Increases Debt Ceiling Unconditionally
This bill suspends the debt ceiling through March 2017, granting this president another $1.5 trillion in debt authority after already amassing $7.5 trillion in debt. This, at a time when revenue is at record highs. There are now no external constraints on the amount of debt this president can accumulate in his final year.
2. Budget Control Act Permanently Terminated
The bill increases spending by $112 billion, thereby permanently overturning the only meaningful spending victory secured by conservatives over the past five years. There will be little leverage to preserve these cuts in the future. Spending was already slated to increase by $250 billion for the new year (from $3.677 trillion to $3.928 trillion); this bill will bump that increase to over $310 billion for 2016 alone. This is why Republicans have never cut spending. Despite record projected revenue of $3.5 trillion for 2016, they can’t balance the budget and will spend $4 trillion annually for the first time ever. In the era of “austerity,” the federal government is now growing by 8.4% despite the fact that the private economy is averaging 2.5% growth.
3. Rubber Stamps Obama’s Backwards Foreign Policy
Included in the increased spending is an extra $32 billion in war spending on top of existing appropriations. This comes on the heels of reports that Obama is commencing ground operations involving our military in the Islamic civil war in both Iraq and Syria. It is cowardly of Congress to not issue a declaration of war with specific policy demands from Obama dictating our strategic goals. Nobody can identify the mission – who we are fighting and with whom we are allying? Yet, this is Congress’ backdoor means of greenlighting this tepid and aimless effort without taking responsibility for supporting it or blocking it. As we’ve noted before, much of the money we send to the Middle East has wound up in the hands of Al-Nusra in Syria and Iranian-backed Shiite forces in Iraq. This budget allows Obama to invest more in failure, and worse – our enemies – because much of the OCO funds go to the State Department.
4. Paves the Way for More Spending with Enron Style Accounting
It would have been better had Congress not deceived the public with Enron-style accounting gimmicks to “offset” the cost of the bill. As Congressional Quarterly noted today, “Budget Deal Pay-Fors May Provide Template for Future Accords.” The political class thinks that a hodgepodge of notional and intangible offsets spread out 10 years from now are so clever. They will be emboldened to use the same gimmicks to bust even more spending caps, even in areas of the budget they’ve been cautious to do so until now.
5. We are at the mercy of Obama with no leverage
The most under-reported aspect of this deal is that it completely “clears the decks” of any budget bill for the remainder of Obama’s presidency, thereby taking the power of the purse off the table. As bad as the increased spending is for our fiscal solvency, the Obama policies are worse. There will be no budget to leverage against Obama’s growing amnesty, EPA overreach, foreign policy disasters, prison break, and dangerous clemencies. For example, Obama released 66,000 criminal aliens in 2013-2014, who had accrued a total of 166,000 convictions: 30k DUIs, 414 kidnappings, 11,000 sex assaults, and 395 homicides. They went on to commit at least 121 murders after being released. Who knows how high those numbers will go now that Obama has completely suspended deportations. Yet, conservatives will not have an opportunity to leverage DHS and Justice Department funding against his amnesty, which will likely grow more dangerous and lawless in his final year.
6. Paul Ryan Owns This Budget
Even if one buys into Ryan’s defense that he had nothing to do with the budget, a dubious assertion in itself, he clearly owns this deal for two reasons.
* First, the notion that the Speaker-elect cannot speak out against this travesty and demand it be halted is like saying that a newly elected fire chief is powerless against ordering his men to put out the flames of an arson that began the day before. Even if we accept that the debt ceiling deadline was sprung on him and cannot be stopped, there is no reason for him to agree to the budget deal, which does not come due for another six weeks. He certainly doesn’t have to agree to take the debt ceiling AND budget off the table for the rest of Obama’s presidency; he could have opted for a shorter-term bill so that he can show us the magic of his budget work and his amazing messaging skills. Now he will have no leverage to enact all of the fiscal reforms he will so eruditely articulate in the coming months.
* Second, Paul Ryan forged the original Ryan-Murray bill in 2013, which established the precedent that breaking the budget caps is a “must-pass” initiative. Until that point, Republicans had held firm. In that sense, this deal is merely the grandchild of Ryan’s original betrayal.
The fact that Ryan supported this excrement sandwich shows that he has no desire to actually force important conservative changes. He relishes the opportunity to “clear the barn” of any meaningful leverage so that he can discuss policy reforms in the abstract without having to fight for them in any significant way.
7. The Republican Party is Dead
Republicans have checked out from the fight against the consequential societal transformational issues for years: marriage, religious liberty, immigration, law and order, etc. They have made it clear now they will never fight for fiscal conservatism. Unless a true conservative is elected as president, the party is done.
As I wrote a week ago, the ascension of Paul Ryan to the Speaker’s job was reason enough to begin a new Conservative Revolution.The death of the GOP following this travesty of budgetary irresponsibility gives us one more reason to see it begin.