Skepticism is always in order on the substance of any agreement between Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats, especially if the subject is spending. When it comes to the spending deal Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer reached, skepticism should probably give way to alarm.
The deal raises spending caps on discretionary spending by nearly $300 billion over two years. According to Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, this means a 14 percent annual spending increase over current levels.
I agree with Michael Needham of Heritage Action. Such an increase in spending is “fiscally irresponsible and creates serious long-term budget challenges.” Needham also contends that the deal sets the stage for additional policy concessions, including a so-called gentlemen’s agreement to bail out Obamacare.
On the plus side, the deal increases military spending. Indeed, the Washington Post quotes Sen. Bob Corker as saying the deal increases military spending by more than what President Trump requested. A more responsible approach would have been to settle for what Trump requested, or a bit less, while standing firmer on discretionary non-defense spending. As the Wall Street Journal argues, the Democrats have exacted a high price for agreeing to boost the military.
President Trump supports the McConnell-Schumer deal. However, it faces opposition from many serious conservatives. Calling it “a betrayal of everything limited government conservatism stands for,” Mike Lee says he will vote “no.”
Nonetheless, the deal has the votes it needs in the Senate. However, in the House, things seem less clear. Nancy Pelosi is calling ( and calling and calling) on Democrats to oppose the deal because it doesn’t include a DACA/dreamer fix. On the Republican side, the House Freedom Caucus has announced its opposition. It stated:
The House Freedom Caucus opposes the deal to raise spending caps on discretionary spending by nearly $300 billion over two years. We support funding for our military, but growing the size of government by 13 percent adds to the swamp instead of draining it. This is not what the American people sent us here to do.
The Club for Growth is of the same mind. It played on a statement from McConnell in 2011 that the “big government freight train” was slowing down. With this deal, however, the Club says “McConnell and the GOP establishment want to speed up the big government freight train with the help of big spending liberals on the other side of the aisle.” It added:
As if that’s not bad enough, this deal also includes $80+ billion in so-called disaster relief spending, cronyist tax extenders, an expansion of farm subsidies, and another suspension in the debt ceiling, conveniently timed to expire after the mid-term elections.
Nowhere in this deal are the $54 billion in spending cuts outlined in President Trump’s budget. Instead, the big government freight train is running out of control.
So it seems.