Dec. 11, 2014

A Christmas Gift No One Wants

The two parties appear to have agreed on a spending bill.

Because $18 trillion simply isn’t enough debt, the House is expected to vote Thursday on a $1.01 trillion spending bill that would add to that by funding most of the government through September and the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 27. At that point, the newly sworn in Congress plans to hit Barack Obama’s amnesty plans through funding negotiations targeting the chief immigration enforcement agency.

The House vote on the 1,603-page bill, which by the way is longer than “War and Peace” and averages more than $630,000,000 worth of spending for every page, comes just hours before the deadline for funding the government. Using those two politically charged words – “government shutdown” – as motivation and justification, Republican and Democrat leadership hashed out a deal that has some liberals crying foul, some conservatives arguing it doesn’t go far enough, and all Americans on the hook for the cost.

What exactly is in the spending monstrosity? Well, don’t expect legislators to know. They only voted on it; reading it is an entirely different matter. But some of the highlights (and lowlights) are worth noting, as We the People are the ones footing the bill.

For starters, ObamaCare is funded. Yes, despite conviction-laden statements about defunding Obama’s health care catastrophe, when push came to shove, if you like your funding, you can keep it. Some funding is withheld, though, as the spending bill does not allocate anything related to ObamaCare for the IRS or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Under the bill, the IRS would see its budget cut by $345.6 million. And the agency would also be banned from targeting organizations applying for tax-exempt status simply because of ideology. Not that the IRS was allowed to do this before; this administration just didn’t care.

A similar scenario plays out with abortion. The bill prohibits federal funding for most abortions, but ObamaCare already forces Americans to pay for abortions, so again, just because something is law doesn’t mean this administration will follow it.

On the military and foreign affairs front, $5 billion is directed to fighting the Islamic State ($1.6 billion of which is for training Iraqi and Kurdish forces) and $1.3 billion is allocated for a new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund. There is also $5.4 billion for security at U.S. embassies around the world – $46 million more than Obama requested.

The EPA is no doubt unhappy (which makes us happy) because its budget would see a $60 million cut. And despite the fact that Congress has long been entirely unable to balance a budget, they got one math problem right, as the bill would not fund Common Core standards or Obama’s failed “Race to the Top” initiative.

Perhaps drawing some of the most ire from the Left is the bill’s provision that would increase by tenfold the limit on campaign donations to national political parties. The Wall Street Journal explains, “The higher limit … is designed to allow the parties to fund their conventions with private dollars, since Republicans have eliminated taxpayer funds for those political shindigs.”

But Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the Left’s populist darling, warned that this provision is “the worst of government for the rich and powerful.” Democrats like to sounds righteous about campaign financing until their own billionaires help them outraise Republicans.

In photo-op fashion, House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) released a joint statement that was anything but unique: “While not everyone got everything they wanted, such compromises must be made in a divided government. These are the tough choices that we must make to govern responsibly and do what the American people sent us here to do.” They appear to have forgotten that the American people just fired a number of them.

For the bill to pass, House Republicans need to garner Democrat support as several conservative House Members are expected to oppose the bill for not going far enough regarding Obama’s amnesty declaration. Still, most expect the bill to pass and then head to the Senate for a quick turnaround.

And a quick turnaround it will undoubtedly get. After all, the government rarely delays when it has a chance to spend so much taxpayer money.

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