Congressional cowardice: Omnibus burdens future generations

Congressional cowardice: Omnibus burdens future generations
© Greg Nash

Can you imagine writing a check for $1.3 trillion? That is what Congress did last week when President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE signed the omnibus spending bill. Although it’ll keep the government running, its passage says a lot more about how broken Washington is than it does anything else.

If the outrageous $1.3 trillion price tag isn’t shocking enough – especially since the national debt is currently at $21 trillion – the process by which it became a reality is scary. Regardless if you support spending increases for either domestic entitlement or defense programs, totalling $500 billion more over the next decade, the budget process appears backwards. The reality is that Congress is broken and the manipulated budget process yields insane government spending that will surely hurt the American economy in the long haul. Republicans have to face this reality come election day.

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Congressional leadership released the 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion omnibus late last Wednesday night, giving the majority of congress a mere 48-hours to read the contents of the bill before having to vote for it on the floor.

Senator Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGraham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020 Conservatives buck Trump over worries of 'socialist' drug pricing Rand Paul to 'limit' August activities due to health MORE (R-Ky.), one of the few legitimate fiscal conservatives in office, tweeted early Thursday morning that the bill had been printing in his office for over 2 hours and it still wasn’t done. To put this into perspective, the average person takes roughly 2 minutes to read 1 page, roughly 200-250 words. Assuming that the average length of each page of the omnibus follows that unit of measurement, it would take roughly 74.4 hours to read the entire bill. That is 26 hours longer than the allotted 48-hour reading period.

Elected officials who support and enable this broken process are using it to their advantage. Given that Congress allocates itself such little time, it’s no wonder they can’t properly budget.
When the rest of America pays taxes, we’re forced to make tough financial decisions. Why can’t Congress do the same?

America elected Congressional Republicans and Trump in part to restore fiscal sanity after years of former President Obama’s reckless spending. Unfortunately, they have failed us. The GOP has sold us out once again.

From being the swamp’s worst enemy to its most loyal ally, President Trump crossed the line by signing arguably the most fiscally irresponsible spending bill in history. Nothing screams Beltway special interest more than a $1.3 trillion spending bill.

In 2010, Republicans promised to post all legislation for 72 hours before a vote would take place. This is not the first time in the last eight years that this promise has been broken. Unfortunately, many Republicans continue to break this promise because they’re not fiscal conservatives at all.
Many officials know just how polarized Congress has become, with the two parties increasingly divided over the past 20 years. This has enabled gridlock in Congress on numerous occasions, and the establishment leverages the instability. For supporters of big government, it makes sense to sandwich all of their desired bills into a large spending package. It is easier to pass one, large, must-pass spending bill than many smaller ones that are prone to greater scrutiny.

The omnibus process is much easier when Congress doesn’t give its members nor the American people time to read and amend the bill. Not surprisingly, much of the media also raced to get it through. Outlets like CNN already started highlighting the feel-good aspects of the bill before it even passed the Senate.

What doesn’t get highlighted, however, are the veins of cronyism and nation-building found throughout the bill. Thankfully, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) highlighted such discrepancies with the spending bill during his live tweet reading of it last Thursday night. This included $1 million in funding for the World Meteorological Organization and $218 million for promoting democracy development in Europe — a continent already well versed in democracy. And that’s just naming a few.

Instead of being fiscally responsible, which would enable a more stable economy, Congress passed the burden of debt onto generations to come. The reality is that our current economic boom will eventually have to bust, especially with the perpetual interest on our country’s debt. Not only have politicians lied about the budget and manipulated its process, but they’ve theatrically diverted America’s attention away from the looming debt crisis.

If Republicans face turmoil in the 2018 midterm elections for their fiscal irresponsibility, they deserve every bit of it. It’s up to the American people to elect true fiscal conservatives the next time around.

Caitlin Grimes is the global communications manager for Students For Liberty (SFL).