Only 62 House Republicans Stand up to Tax and Spend Budget Deal
Last Thursday, the House voted to approve the Ryan-Murray budget (H. J. Res. 59) with overwhelming bipartisan support. Only 62 Republicans voted against it. Under this agreement Congress would reinstate more than half of the sequester for the next two years. Budget caps would be set at $1.012 trillion in 2014 and $1.014 trillion in 2015; current law is $967 billion & $995 billion respectively. The extra $64 billion in spending is offset with a hodgepodge of intangible, notional, or unverifiable collection of savings spread out over 10 years. There are a number of conservative concerns with this deal:
- Budgetary: The sequester cuts represented the only real accomplishment of the GOP congress as it relates to trimming government spending. The Ryan-Murray deal is the old Washington trick of reinstating $63 billion in spending up front with the promise of offsetting the spending over 10 years. Moreover, this agreement has paved the way to vitiating the sequester altogether. Henceforth, the default position will be to undo the sequester. So every year we will spend more by offsetting the costs over 10 years.
- Taxes: This bill raises taxes on airline tickets to further fund the TSA. Taxes and fees on airfare already represents 25-30% of the cost of the ticket. Also, now that we have started the precedent of repealing the annual sequester, Democrats will have future leverage to push through tax increases in order to offset the new annual spending. Finally, the bill contains a provision that makes it easier for the Senate to raise taxes across the board. Section 114 of the bill repeals the budget point of order against offsetting spending with tax increases in the Senate. Under current rules, any senator can force a 60-vote threshold through a point of order against any amendment that raises taxes. This bill allows the majority to raise taxes under the guise of offsetting spending increases with a 51-vote threshold.
- Obamacare: This bill funds every penny of Obamacare. And given that is sets discretionary spending for a full two years, Republicans have now lost any future leverage to fight Obamacare in the budget.
- Military Pensions: While increasing spending for liberal domestic programs and rich defense contractors, this bill uses savings from military pensions. While there is room to reform the military pensions, those serving in combat should definitely not have their pensions cut, especially to line the pockets of less deserving programs. This is a prime example of dyslexic priorities expressed in the budget deal.
- Immigration: One of the underappreciated outcomes of the October budget fight, from a conservative perspective, was that amnesty was pushed off the legislative agenda for the remainder of the year. When observing some of the recent statements and actions of top GOP House leaders, it is clear they are itching to pass immigration legislation. There is strong reason to believe the Ryan-Murray deal was forged for two full years in order to clear the agenda for immigration.
- Rewarding Bad Behavior: Sen. Harry Reid just blew up the Senate by abolishing the filibuster for nominees. Now Republicans are rewarding his bad behavior by giving him the votes to pass a raw deal.
This is why we need to work to elect more consistent conservatives, especially from Republican-leaning districts.