The talk is that Trump signed it because he believed that funding a military build is, at this point in time, a completely over-arching priority. That does not, of course, excuse Republicans who run conservative and then vote liberal, or the total and complete absence of GOP Party discipline.
Politico explains just how disgraceful the bill was.
The omnibusâ€”Capitol Hill jargon for a single spending bill that funds most government functionsâ€”does not kill any of the programs or agencies Trumpâ€™s budget proposed to kill; it triples funding for TIGER, nearly doubles CDBG, and boosts ARPA-Eâ€™s budget by 16 percent. Trump wanted to slash the Energy Departmentâ€™s renewables budget 65 percent; instead, Congress boosted it 14 percent. Trump proposed to keep nonmilitary spending $54 billion below the congressional budget cap; the omnibus spends right up to the cap, a $63 billion increase from last year.
This is why the conservative National Review denounced the omnibus as â€œthe sort of legislation that would have been right at home in the Obama administration,â€ while Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer gloated in a statement that its â€œjob-creating, life-saving investments stand in sharp contrast to the Trump budget.â€ It basically extends the fiscal status quo that has prevailed since the start of Obamaâ€™s second termâ€”plus a sizable chunk of new deficit spendingâ€”even though Republicans now control the legislative and executive branches.
â€œThroughout the Obama presidency, the Republican Party at least gave lip service to the need to restore fiscal sanity in Washington,â€ says Michael Needham, head of the conservative policy group Heritage Action. â€œIt is now clear just how many in the GOP are willing to engage in profligate spending when they control the levels of power.â€
Republicans are pleased that the omnibus hikes defense spending 10 percent, even more than Trump requested, including a 2.6 percent military pay raise Trump has already bragged about on Twitter. The White House also got $1.6 billion for border security, although the bill specifies it cannot be spent on the concrete wall the president wants. Thereâ€™s a 6 percent cut in foreign aid and other State Department programs, less than the 25 percent cut in the Trump budget written by Office of Management and Budget chief Mick Mulvaney but still a significant rollback. And the omnibus did not include a specific line item for the Gateway rail tunnel project in New York City that Trump had called a deal-breaker, although Democrats are confident that Gateway will still get plenty of cash from the bill. …
Trump has periodically threatened to shut down the government if Democrats wouldnâ€™t meet his demands, but Republican leaders were clearly desperate for the Democratic votes they needed to keep the government open. The omnibus doesnâ€™t even cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, a GOP priority that inspired a government shutdown under Obama.
Pelosi and Schumerâ€™s gloating aside, Democrats did not get everything they wanted. The omnibus did not include the new protections they are seeking for undocumented Dreamers who came to America as kids, or new funding they want for stabilizing the Obamacare exchanges. But considering the balance of power in Congress, they got quite a lot they wanted that Trump didnâ€™t wantâ€”including full funding for the 2020 census, money for states to bolster their election security and the FBI to fight Russian cyberattacks, and language blocking a proposed Trump administration rule that would have allowed employers to pocket tips earned by their workers. They insisted on expanding a tax credit for low-income housing development in exchange for allowing Republicans to fix a technical glitch in the recent tax bill. And they won a modest strengthening of gun background checks and a rollback of a ban on gun violence research by the CDC without having to accept a provision requiring states to honor concealed carry permits; conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus claimed GOP leaders had promised that provision would be part of the deal.
Presidential budgets are always dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, but the omnibus feels more like a product of Obama-era divided government than Trump-era Republican monopoly. …
he bill was crafted behind closed doors by congressional leadersâ€”most back-benchers had less than a day to read its 2,232 pagesâ€”so itâ€™s hard to say how much of it reflects genuine Republican enthusiasm for big government and how much reflects a political decision to cave to Democrats to avoid a shutdown on Trumpâ€™s watch. For years, limited-government conservatives have been frustrated by the compromises GOP leaders have made to avoid budgetary train wrecks, and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows complained that â€œthis omnibus doesnâ€™t just forget the promises we made to votersâ€”it flatly rejects them.â€
Kurt Schlichter responds to the GWB speech of four days ago, in which the former president broke his long political silence… to attack a Republican Administration.
All human institutions are essentially a reboot of high school, and within the political scene the Never Trumpers are convinced that they are the cool kids despite being the chess club of American politics. No, they aren’t the cool kids. Theyâ€™re geeks, they haven’t won a tournament in years and, more importantly, they’re the freaking chess club.
In contrast, we normals are just that, the members of the student body who have lives and after-school jobs and girlfriends and who don’t care about the dorks padding their resume with student body presidencies or, in this case, jobs at the Eagle Liberty Council for Freedom. Except now we normals have been forced to pay attention because the would-be in-crowd has so totally screwed things up that there’s no real choice but get involved in campus activities and burn down the whole damn schoolhouse. …
What have these guys achieved? The clowns they support in Congress canâ€™t even repeal Obamacare. …
We normals are sick of being looked down upon and exploited by a bunch of people who, if this was a movie, would be played by James Spader â€“ except trainwreck 2017 James Spader, not louche/suave 1986 James Spader. I guess that makes Bill Kristol the Nepo-Con Duckie, if Duckie was a less-cool, backstabbing deep-state-loving weasel trying to sell Molly Ringwald a cabin on one of his crappy cruises.
In place of trying to earn respect by demonstrating competence, theyâ€™ve chosen to try to diss us into submission. George W. Bush decided to go all Mean Girls in a speech that insulted his (former) supporters while delighting the left, and therefore the Never Trumpers. Now, if you read W’s speech on paper, every word of it about bigotry being bad is true. But you give speeches in context, and here the context is decades of leftists and their media poodles falsely accusing the normals of racism and bigotry. So when W adopted that language, he also knowingly or negligently adopted that narrative; the former newspaper and current brochure known as the L.A. Times crowed: â€œIn stunning attack, George W. Bush rebukes Trump, suggesting he promotes falsehoods and prejudice.â€
And so, of course, the supporters of this Trump guy are thereforeâ€¦. Well, you get the picture. That is, if youâ€™re not being willfully obtuse, like the Fredocons, who were delighted that Bush decided to break his 16 years of super-principled silence in the face of liberal attacks to slander the very people who had voted for him and defended him. If being â€œprincipledâ€ means letting liberals use you like a slit trench then trashing the people who had your back to please the people using you like a slit trench, you can keep your damned principles.
Scathing, but deserved.
Thomas Lifson marvels at the conspiracy of silence on the part of Republicans which has allowed the MSM to fabricate and keep running for months coverage of a completely imaginary story involving supposititious collusion with Russia for which no evidence whatsoever has been identified.
The stunning truth is that the American political and media establishment allowed a phony story â€“ that they knew was phony — to dominate our political discourse for months. When James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, he revealed that he had informed many important Congressional leaders that there was no investigation of President Trump and the Russians underway, even as MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, and the Washington Post daily carried stories alluding to an imaginary investigation.
None of these informed leaders spoke out! They allowed a make-believe tale intended to harm the legitimacy and therefore political power of President Trump to dominate mindshare in the nationâ€™s collective political conversation. …
The American people were played as patsies, their attention diverted to a fantasy that had — and still has — no evidence whatsoever of its existence. That fantasy was propounded for political reasons, and used to subvert the outcome of a democratic election.
And except for Senator Grassley, the entire roster of congressional establishment held its tongues.
Back in the 1960s, young conservatives used to sing a parody of “Rock of Ages” that, in part, went:
“Rockefeller’s not for me,
He is anti-GOP.
He is for the Welfare State,
And he’s had more than one mate.”
Throughout the 2016 Presidential Campaign, theoretically-inclined Americans struggled to identify exactly where Donald Trump belonged on the scale of ideology.
Trump had no political record. And Trump’s combination of positions, including Nativism, Protectionism, along with promises to repeal Obamacare, yet at the same time, “take care of everybody” had little to do with either conventional liberalism or conservativism.
Last week’s Obamacare Repeal-and-Replace effort failed because the small, actually seriously principled portion of House Republicans, the Freedom Caucus, declined to follow Trump’s leadership, when that leadership insisted on retaining the socialist heart of Barack Obama’s great leap forward into conformity with the Bismarkian model of National Health Care embraced by so many European and Asian countries.
Just yesterday, I happened to catch Fox News’ Chris Wallace referring with Establishment disdain to the Freedom Caucus’s insistence on removing key Obamacare features such as universal coverage including the subsidizing of health insurance for the elderly and ill by an insurance purchase requirement for the healthy and young.
Last week’s breakdown of Republican solidarity exposed the ideological fault line dividing Donald Trump (and his Nationalist Alt-Right inner circle) and the mainstream GOP. Serious, ideologically-principled Republicans are still Goldwater Republicans, determined to fight for government consistent with the ideals and principles of the founders, firmly resistant to Progressive appeals to sentimentality, Populism, and the example of European countries.
Donald Trump lacks Nelson Rockefeller’s Dartmouth polish and patrician accent, but we begin to see revealed the basic similarities. Like Rockefeller, Trump is a divorcÃ©e and a flagrant sexual opportunist, utterly indifferent to conventional Middle American sexual morality. Trump has the advantage of operating decades further along in the progressive decline of Religion and morality in the United States. Back in the 1960s, a divorced man was looked upon as an untrustworthy oath-breaker and loose-liver, unfit for national office. By 1980, when Ronald Reagan (who had been long divorced) ran, it was a non-issue. Last Fall, Trump proved that, in the 21st Century, a fellow on the record with having approximately the same sort of approach to romance as Hugh Hefner, would have little difficulty brushing off even feminist indignation and could easily be elected.
Last week’s events, on the positive side, confirmed again that Donald Trump is a man of his word. He promised a great and beautiful replacement of Obamacare bill that would cover everyone and he attempted to ram that through. On the negative side, all this confirms that Donald Trump has no ideological aversion to the Welfare State and no theoretical commitment to stopping, or turning back, the Left’s step-by-step march toward universal socialism. Trump is, at best, a “Me Too, But a Little Less” Republican in the style of Eisenhower. More accurately, in the combative New York-style of the late Nelson Rockefeller.
Like Rockefeller, Trump is (mostly) pro-business, though he will expect business to play ball with government. Like Rockefeller, Trump is a law-and-order Republican. Trump means to enforce immigration laws. He will continue to wage the War on Drugs. He will continue to lock ’em up, and will probably increase sentences at some point. Like Rockefeller, Trump will devote a serious effort to making Big Government more efficient and more economical, thus enabling the Welfare State to avoid longer its inevitable bankruptcy.
In the political contest for the Presidency, Trump went from triumph to triumph. Trump’s fidelity to his campaign promises, and his business-like style of going right to work and expecting results NOW, not next year or the year after, was refreshing and gave the opening months of his presidency a positive tone. Wall Street responded by booming.
Now, Trump has experienced his first real setback, his first political defeat. How Trump responds to this one will obviously have a major impact on the overall success of his presidency. If Trump simply sulks and blames conservatives for saving Obamacare, the same pattern of failure is bound to repeat itself. If Trump instead learns to compromise and goes back and puts together a renewed alliance with conservative Republicans, there is nothing stopping him from trying again and finally repealing and eradicating the legacy of Barack Obama from American life, and then moving forward more strongly than before to fulfill the rest of his promises and agenda.
He has already comfortably surpassed the political achievements of Nelson Rockefeller. Hopefully, Trump will avoid Rockefeller’s example of bitter progressive Republican animosity toward conservative Republicans and Rockefeller’s ultimately futile isolation.
Robert Tracinski explains why repealing Obamacare is such an uphill battle. When you replace Conservatism with Populist Nationalism, you’re lacking the necessary conviction to oppose the Welfare State.
If you want to know why Republicans have bogged down, notice one peculiar thing about the Obamacare debate so far. Itâ€™s not really a debate over Obamacare, itâ€™s a debate over Medicaid. Thatâ€™s because Obamacare mostly turned out to be a big expansion of Medicaid. The health insurance exchanges that were supposed to provide affordable private health insurance (under a government aegis) never really delivered. They were launched in a state of chaos and incompetence, and ended up mostly offering plans that are expensive yet still have high deductibles. Rather than massively expanding the number of people with private insurance, a lot of the effect of Obamacare was to wreck peopleâ€™s existing health care plans and push them into new exchange plans.
Ah, but what about all those people the Democrats are claiming were newly covered under Obamacare? A lot of themâ€”up to two-thirds, by some estimatesâ€”are people who were made newly eligible for a government health-care entitlement, Medicaid. But shoving people onto Medicaid is not exactly a great achievement, since it is widely acknowledged to be a lousy program.
Conservative health care wonk Avik Roy explains why: â€œ[T]he programâ€™s dysfunctional 1965 design makes it impossible for states to manage their Medicaid budgets without ratcheting down what they pay doctors to care for Medicaid enrollees. That, in turn, has led many doctors to stop accepting Medicaid patients, such that Medicaid enrollees donâ€™t get the care they need.â€ Partly as a result, a test in Oregon found no difference in health outcomes between those with access to Medicaid and those without.
Then again, a massive expansion of Medicaid fits perfectly with the preferences of the welfare statistâ€™s boosters: lousy free stuff from the government is better than good stuff you pay for yourself.
Yet notice this hits a big Republican weak spot, one I suspect Obamacareâ€™s promoters knew about all along. Obamacare just boils down to an expansion of an old, existing, traditional government entitlementâ€”and Republicans are lousy at rolling back traditional entitlements. …
Democrats create new entitlements, then Republicans reform them. Democrats get all the credit for showering us with benefits, and Republicans accept the role of the mean-spirited accountants who tell us we just canâ€™t afford it. …
[As to the existing bill:] Pradheep Shanker sums it up nicely when he describes the Obamacare replacement bill as a piece of legislation with no ideological point of view.
My biggest complaint about this bill is that there really is no governing philosophy in its writing. It neither pleases conservatives nor moderates. It makes half measures to increasing patient choice, but retains taxes such as the Cadillac tax, while at the same time maintaining the employer based health insurance system. It doesnâ€™t maximize federal support for the poor, nor does it fully adopt the free marketâ€¦. The muddle created by the GOP here makes it very difficult to make a sound, concise argument regarding specifically what their goal is.
That makes sense, in a way. Itâ€™s a bill with no governing philosophy for a party and a president who have no governing philosophy.
Read the whole thing.
Kurt Schlichter has a message for President Obama and the Congressional GOP leadership.
When Paul Ryan and his congressional clown car of alleged conservatives surprised us by just sort of dropping Obamacare Jr. on us, I wasnâ€™t surprised to see them trip all over their Guccis during the utterly inept roll out. These nimrods couldnâ€™t effectively communicate to Elizabeth Warren with smoke signals. But even I was shocked at how transcendently crappy their proposed Obamacare replacement is. Let me put it this way: the only thing that steaming pile of failure would be good for is as the key prop in a very specialized, niche German porno film.
Seriously, how many times do we have to tell you? Obamacare must die. Kill it dead â€“ with fire!
When are you going to get it through your wonk spheres that we donâ€™t want a government-led health care system that leaves the people who infest D.C. in charge? We donâ€™t need a â€œplanâ€ because 85 percent of us already have a plan â€“ itâ€™s called â€œTaking responsibility for supporting ourselves and our families like damn adults.â€
Yeah, we really mean it when we say we want Obamacare gone. DOA. Kaput. Call it over to the mob bossâ€™s house under the pretense that itâ€™s going to be made, then shoot it through the face so its mother canâ€™t give it an open coffin at the funeral.
Are you feelinâ€™ us now?
Democrat party socialist & dwarf Robert Reich put up a post on Facebook the other day which seemed to me to have a ring of truth.
I had breakfast recently with a friend who’s a former Republican member of Congress. Here’s what he said:
Him: Trump is no Republican. Heâ€™s just a big fat ego.
Me: Then why didnâ€™t you speak out against him during the campaign?
Him: You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. Iâ€™d have been shot.
Me: So what now? What are your former Republican colleagues going to do?
Him (smirking): Theyâ€™ll play along for a while.
Me: A while?
Him: Theyâ€™ll get as much as they want â€“ tax cuts galore, deregulation, military buildup, slash all those poverty programs, and then get to work on Social Security and Medicare â€“ and blame him. And heâ€™s such a fool heâ€™ll want to take credit for everything.
Me: And then what?
Him (laughing): They like Pence.
Me: What do you mean?
Him: Pence is their guy. They all think Trump is out of his mind.
Me: So what?
Him: So the moment Trump does something really dumb â€“ steps over the line â€“ violates the law in a big stupid clumsy way â€¦ and you know he will …
Me: They impeach him?
Him: You bet. They pull the trigger.
I think he’s right, that if (or, perhaps I should say: when) the Mainstream Media finally comes up with a scandal that sticks and Trump’s teflon covering breaks, the democrat wolfpack will close in, and they will be joined in bringing him down by plenty of Republicans.
But Reich seems to miss the point. Mike Pence operates as Presidential Insurance for Trump. Pence is a dyed-in-the-wool hardcore conservative. If they knock off Trump, from the left’s point of view, Pence might actually be worse.