Last month, the Paul Ryan-Patty Murray discretionary spending bill was unveiled. Sort of unveiled, anyway: it didn’t actually exist, but was summarized in a series of bullet points. Now the bill has taken tangible form. Here it is, all 2,860 pages, including explanatory statements:
The House is expected to vote on the omnibus spending bill tomorrow, less than 48 hours after copies became available. No one will have read the law; this is government by press release.
The bill is advertised at $1.1 trillion, but in the brief time available, Republican Senate staffers have found that it actually spends $18 billion more than that. The bill includes $18 billion in “CHIMPS,” which are “reductions” in spending that never would have happened in any event, which are used to offset actual spending increases. But who’s counting? The days when we could expect Congressmen to know what they are voting on to the nearest $18 billion are long gone.
There are no actual spending cuts in the bill, with one exception: veterans’ pensions are being reduced. That is, veterans will be paid less money than they were promised during their decades of service. When this feature of the Ryan-Murray proposal was announced, there was some blowback–not enough, but some. So the issue supposedly was “fixed.” What actually happened was that the final version of the law restored pensions to disabled veterans only, leaving the cuts in place for more than 90% of pension recipients.
The Democrats had a choice: they could save $6 billion–a whopping one half of one percent of the spending in the bill!–by screwing veterans out of their pensions, or they could save the same amount by closing a loophole that makes it easy for illegal aliens to defraud the federal government. The Democrats chose illegal alien fraud over our nation’s veterans in at least two votes. Coming from the Democrats, that may not be surprising. But why on Earth would a single Republican cast his or her vote in favor of such a shameful choice?
One wonders, too: why do the Democrats even bother to screw veterans when the dollars involved are such small potatoes? Certainly not because they suddenly had a twinge of fiscal conscience. I think there is only one plausible explanation. The Democrats’ desire to stick it to veterans is much like their insistence on using Obamacare to force religious institutions to violate their beliefs. It is totally unnecessary; in practical terms, there is hardly anything in it for the Democrats. But in both cases, it is the principle that matters: the Democrats want to rub the noses of religious people and veterans in the fact that the Left is in the saddle. It is a raw exercise of power, of the sort that tyrants of all eras would appreciate. Not just opposition, but potential opposition must be stamped out.
So I understand why Democrats would vote for a bill they haven’t read, which cuts nothing except long-promised veterans’ benefits. But–I repeat–why on Earth would any Republican vote for it?