Sen. DeMint: Spending bills a shameful end to the year

The hard choice Democrats have given Republicans has paid off for the big-spenders again.

Refusing to work together to cut spending, Democrats demanded that Republicans compromise with them to increase spending, or shut down the government.

As a result, Congress rammed through a 1,000-page, trillion-dollar omnibus spending bill that lumped 9 different appropriations bills in a single package at the very last minute rather than debating, amending, and voting on these bills in a transparent manner.

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Spend more and pass this bill, the Democrats said, or force the government to close its doors. They said the same thing this past summer when President Obama insisted on a $2 trillion increase to the debt ceiling and during the budget fight in the spring.

Sadly, it's a tactic that keeps working. Witness the final votes members of Congress took this year.

Republicans have pledged to cut spending and quit passing legislation no one had read, but that’s exactly what members of Congress did before leaving for their Christmas vacations. The 2012 omnibus increased spending by more than $18 billion over 2011 levels.  Once that bill is signed into law by the President, the total tab for all twelve 2012 appropriations bills will be more than $1.8 trillion, a nearly $21 billion increase over 2011 spending.

It’s become a cynical yearly tradition in Washington to delay the big-spending votes until just before Christmas. After all, it’s how Democrats in the Senate passed ObamaCare. Members of Congress are now hurrying home after the vote without much talk, but it should not be forgotten. It represents a shameful end to a year that began with many bold assurances.

After the 2010 midterm elections, Republican promised to cut $100 billion from the federal budget. House Republicans did pass several appropriations bills to cut spending, but they ultimately died in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The cuts never came. In fact, spending went up! Under no circumstance can a spending increase above last year’s levels be considered a cut. That promise to cut spending has been broken.

Republicans also promised to post all legislation online at least 72 hours before a vote. This 1,000-page omnibus spending bill was posted online Thursday morning, without an official Congressional Budget Office Score showing what it would cost, and rushed to a vote on in the House on Friday afternoon. This wasn’t the only bill members of Congress voted on without knowing how much it would cost. The Senate voted on a package to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for another two months on Saturday morning. When it was sent to the floor for a vote, the CBO had still not scored it.

Moreover, the omnibus spending bill did nothing to defund ObamaCare, which continues to be rejected by the overwhelming majority of Americans. It continues to pay for the massive bureaucratic machinery that will ultimately takeover the healthcare system once the bill is fully enacted in 2014.

It also funds abortion in America and around the world, a practice Republicans pledged to stop. The omnibus appropriates $35 million to the United Nations Population Fund, $575 million for international family planning, and $297 million for Title X family planning, which is a direct funding source for America’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood. At one time, the bill defunded Planned Parenthood and reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits U.S. tax dollars from funding abortion overseas, but those provisions were removed from the final version of the spending bill.

An earlier version of the spending bill also contained protections for health care professionals who, as a matter of conscience, do not wish to participate in abortions. But, again, those protections were removed from the final version of the bill.

This is not what Americans voted for in the 2010 elections. The 2010 election was not a mandate to recklessly spend trillions on secret bills that fund offensive and immoral causes.

The simple fact of the matter is that Democrats will always push to spend more. It’s the Republicans' job to make them stop. A party that refuses to engage in the very practice of writing and passing a budget, as the Democrats have neglected to do for years, cannot be rewarded with massive, year-end spending binges.

Republicans must find the nerve to put an end to such malpractice. Washington simply cannot continue to spend with impunity. If Congress does not reverse its disastrous course willingly, outside forces may ultimately cause a crash of epic proportions. Washington tested its limits during the financial meltdown of 2008 and instead of resolving the root causes of that crisis, politicians made almost everything worse.

The risk that Uncle Sam is now taking with taxpayer money makes Jon Corzine look cautious. Will those in office now be able to tell their children and grandchildren where the money went? The answer is no.

I opposed both of these bills. We don't have a temporary economy and we can't continue operating on temporary tax policies. We need permanent tax reform that eliminates special interest carve-outs and lowers rates for everyone. We cannot keep extending unemployment insurance for up to two years of benefits, which encourages chronic joblessness. And we will never balance the budget by passing bloated appropriations bills that keep spending more than the year before.

We, as elected politicians, must do what we say. Our country is rapidly approaching dire consequences and Republicans must be willing to do everything possible to save this country.