At 1:34 on Wednesday morning, the party of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan dropped their Christmas package off at the White House lawn in the form of a 2,009-page omnibus spending bill and a 233-page tax subsidy bill. The House plans to vote on the tax bill today and the spending bill tomorrow. The enormity of this betrayal is breathtaking. At the same time, however, it perfectly illustrates why the American people are done with the Republican Party as currently constituted, as witnessed by the direction of the presidential primary. Amazingly, many “D.C. conservatives” are giving Paul Ryan a pass.
Given that Ramadan has passed, Paul Ryan has saved these 11 gifts for Obama’s Christmas present.
- Surrendering the Power of the Purse
This bill does not address a single issue from the nine critical issues we identified last week. House leadership blocked all riders on amnesty, refugees, sanctuary cities, and Planned Parenthood. Obama is now in the clear for the most dangerous year of his presidency to promote more amnesty, release countless numbers of criminals, and take executive action on energy and gun regulations without fear of congressional punishment.
- Corrupt Process
The notion that the entire budget would be rolled into a 2,000-page bill and voted on in two days is counter to our Founding values of representative government. It also, once again, exposes Paul Ryan as a mini-me of John Boehner. Further, this bill will be coupled with a massive tax subsidy bill after passing the House by using the procedural subterfuge Ryan promised to avoid. That bill was given at most 36 hours of time, despite the complex changes to the tax code.
- $1.67 billion for refugee program
Not only does the bill fail to defund the program, it fully funds the broader resettlement program at $1.67 billion (page 917).
- Busts Budget Cuts
This bill appropriates $1.141 trillion for fiscal year 2016; a $53 billion increase from last year. If you divide up the 2,009 pages by its full cost, it is worth $572 million per page. This consummates the budget betrayal from September and puts the final nail in the coffin of the one legitimate spending victory Republicans have secured over the past five years. See more on the numbers from my colleague, John Gray.
- Expands Low Skilled Visas
Page 701 of the bill quadruples the number of H-2b visas for next year. These are visas granted to those largely from the third world to take blue collar jobs in industries such as construction and truck driving. Not only does this hurt blue collar American workers, it invites in even more third world immigrants. Although these are temporary visas, the current lack of any visa tracking program means many of these individuals will never return home. Once they have U.S. born children, those children are granted automatic citizenship and can secure welfare on the parents’ behalf. Hence, at a time when Republicans “couldn’t” fight for an immigration enforcement rider they were able to insert an immigration expansion rider.
- Increases Funding for Clemency
Not only does this bill fail to defund Obama’s dangerous prison break, it grants $76 million more for the president to spend on his clemency program (page 134). Oddly, this bill grants another $419 million for prison construction at a time when Obama is planning a mass prison break (page 147).
- Strips out all the Environmental Riders
Remember when Mitch McConnell promised to fight Obama’s administrative war on coal in the budget? Well, as Democrats noted in their minority report on the omnibus, "Democrats were able to successfully block all new anti-environmental provisions." The D.C. Court of Appeals once again sided with Obama’s EPA and its illegal mercury regulation, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that it violated congressional statutes. Evidently, Congress is unwilling to defend its turf even as much as the high court, which itself has all but replaced Congress as a legislative authority, found Obama to be infringing upon congressional statutes. Obama will have a clear lane to remake the DNA of our economy in his final year.
- Green Energy Subsidies
While we all support tax cuts, the tax extenders deal is nothing but a handout for parochial special interests. The $680 billion package includes a five-year extension of the green energy tax subsidies. These are not tax cuts because most green energy companies don’t net enough profit to incur a positive tax liability. These credits are refundable.
- Stimulus Welfare Tax Credits
This bill permanently enshrines Obama’s Stimulus welfare through the tax code. In the Stimulus package, Obama massively expanded eligibility for the earned income tax credit and the refundable portion of the child tax credit. Adding more welfare via the tax code without first reforming the main welfare programs is the last nail on the coffin of the only major fiscal reform Republicans have enacted in two decades – the 1996 welfare reform bill.
- Obamacare Bailout for K Street
This deal suspends the tax on “Cadillac” insurance plans and medical devices for two years. It also blocks enactment of the health insurance tax for 2017. As noted before, this is nothing but a ploy by K Street and the GOP establishment to repeal only the provisions of the law most opposed by lobbyists - some of whom helped campaign for Obamacare in the first place. On net, this will make it harder to repeal the meat and potatoes of the health care law in the future.
- Welfare for Mexico and Central America
Not only has this administration refused to punish Mexico and Central America for irresponsibly violating our sovereignty, the omnibus bill contains $265 million for economic development…in Mexico and Central America. Liberal Democrats are bragging about several other provisions in the bill to help these countries without holding them accountable.