All Republicans had to do when they won the election in 2016 was to hold the line on the budget bill they helped pass in 2011 with control of just one branch of government. Instead, first with control of all three branches and now with control of two of the three, they are about to undo the one spending success of the past decade, and with it, pre-empt any leverage they have to pressure Democrats on a single issue.
Why is it that not a single mile of new fencing has been constructed for Trump’s entire term? Why is it that we’ve spent billions taking 21,000 sick illegal aliens to the hospital, chewing up 250,000 man-hours of Border Patrol at hospitals and away from patrolling, yet not a penny more was spent on Border Patrol or the military holding the line against the cartel smuggling?
Look no further than the budget deals Trump signed over and over again, which collectively increased discretionary spending by 16 percent but not a dime for new border walls or deportations. He gave away his leverage for free. Now, with Trump agreeing to the deal Senate Republicans and his treasury secretary just forged, the total spending binge will rise to 20 percent above fiscal year 2017 levels and will still not include a dime for the border.
Here are the toplines of the deal:
Republicans and even the Trump administration will once again hide behind military spending as excuse for this deal. But the entire point of the 2018 deal was to secure that spending. We already paid the price. Why does military spending have to be increased yet again, especially when we won’t even properly counter the Mexican cartels or Iran?
Even if Trump were inclined to agree with this madness, at least make the Senate work through the August recess on sovereignty and border security issues and build the case for a better budget deal in September. Why give away all your leverage at once on both the debt ceiling and spending caps?
There’s only one reason why Congress is doing this so quickly and rushing it before the August recess. They know the president is influenced by his conservative base and will reject this plan if it’s allowed to be exposed to the sunlight of the August townhalls held by members of Congress. Where is the outrage from media members who claim the mantle of conservatism? At the precise moment when their voice needs to be heard, they remain silent.
When spending and illegal immigration numbers were not nearly as bad as they are today, Trump was very clear about what should be done with debt ceiling negotiations:
The Republicans must use the debt ceiling as leverage to make a great deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2012
Yet almost seven years later and $6 trillion deeper into the abyss of debt, Trump as president is now agreeing to a blank check, which will in turn preclude any leverage to deal with illegal immigration, which is about three times as large as it was at the time of that tweet.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.