It’s been a brutal week in Washington for fiscal conservatives

· June 22, 2018  
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Money on a life buoy
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We have seen quite explicitly that neither party really cares about sovereignty and security, as both of them place the desires of illegal aliens before the needs of Americans. We already know there is no party in Washington that will fight for religious liberty. But is there still a fiscally conservative party in Washington?

Not a chance.

Congress won’t cut even .0002%

One would think that after going on an unprecedented spending binge earlier this year, both parties would relish the opportunity to vote for a spending rescissions package and advertise their budget-cutting bona fides, even though it would only save $1 billion, or .0002 percent of the annual federal budget. President Trump gave them this opportunity, sending them a rescissions package of $15 billion through a procedure prescribed in the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act to bypass the filibuster. Most of the funds either couldn’t be spent or would never be spent, so the package only wound up saving $1.1 billion. Yet Republicans Susan Collins and Richard Burr joined every Democrat in opposing it. The package was defeated 48-50.

Richard Burr objected because some of the fake spending cuts would have been taken from an account of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This bill had already been watered down to assuage the liberal sensibilities of many other big-government Republicans, but Burr loved this land-grab program so much he was willing to tank a spending-cut bill that really didn’t cut anything and would have given him a good campaign talking point. The rescission for the Land and Water Conservation Fund was $16 million, or .001 percent of the package, which in itself was .002 percent of the federal budget.

Most of the funds in this bill either could not be spent because the budget authority expired or would not be spent because the money is left over or the programs are dormant. About $4.3 billion of the rescissions are from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program, which hasn’t lent any money in seven years. So why wouldn’t 100 senators support it? Because they plan to use these “savings” to “offset” their next spending binge and say they are paying for their new spending.

What’s a $957 billion farm bill between friends?

This was not even a footnote in the news cycle, but in between votes on immigration bills, the House blithely slipped in a vote on a $957 billion farm and food stamp bill. Only 20 Republicans voted against it, and many of them did so from the Left, not from the Right. As we noted earlier this month, this bill locks in the entire baseline of Obama’s food stamp and statist farm programs. It even expands some Obamacare-style farm programs that fix prices, turn crop insurance into “shallow loss” payments, and create monopolies for specific industries and crops to the detriment of others. It has some weak work requirements for a small number of people, but it creates a ridiculous job training program that will cost as much as any of the savings from the reforms!

Worst of all, now the bill heads to the Senate, where senators will remove even the minor work requirements, and only the bad provisions will pass.

Thus, lest you thank House Republicans for passing the rescissions bill (before it was blocked in the Senate), just realize that they were voting for $1 billion in savings they knew the Senate would reject in exchange for a $957 billion reauthorization they know the Senate will pass in an even more liberal form.

This is the concern with any amnesty bill passing out of the House, no matter how many other good provisions are in the bill. The Senate will pocket the amnesty and strip out the enforcement provisions, because the Senate always wins, but it gives House members cover to say they tried to be conservative.

Just this week, the House Budget Committee passed a budget blueprint calling for $6.5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years that they know is going nowhere in the Senate. They will always be conservative when it doesn’t matter and liberal when playing with live ammo. Which is why they are already passing appropriations bills for the next fiscal year codifying the spending levels of this year’s omnibus rather than the aspirational promises of their blueprint.

Also, they declined to add budget reconciliation instructions to the budget bill, which is the only way to pass any health care or welfare legislation without the filibuster (as they did with the tax cuts.)

Internet sales tax

Putting aside the legal rationale of the Supreme Court’s decision in the internet sales tax case, the political outcome of cross-state taxation for consumers and small business is devastating, especially when the chaos of 10,600 tax jurisdictions is factored in. Congress can still put an end to this nonsense. Even if one believes the Constitution doesn’t explicitly prohibit the states from engaging in such tyranny and disruption, the spirit of the Constitution certainly does, and everyone agrees Congress can block it.

Sadly, all of the RINO committee chairs and President Trump support this insanity. There is no desire to even transform the tax to an origin-based one, which would be the perfect compromise to ensure that states get revenue but protect consumers from cross-state taxation and shield small businesses from the regulatory morass of insanely complicated tabulations.

Taken together, what all these issues mean is that both states and the federal government will grow in size and continue crowding out economic growth. The debt is killing our prospects for robust growth even during a good job market.

What we’ve learned this week is that there may be fewer fiscal conservatives in Washington than there are social conservatives. And those are most certainly an endangered species.

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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.