The upcoming September budget fight is everything. It will determine whether under Trump’s presidency we will even return to Obama levels of illegal immigration and debt or whether it will be much worse. It’s that simple. Yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pre-emptively surrendering the fight on both issues before it even begins, as he has done with every budget battle even when Republicans controlled the House.
Despite the president’s promise in his budget blueprint to hold the line on the spending caps and not increase spending yet again, the Washington Post reported that Mitch McConnell convinced the president that “no politician had ever lost office for spending more money.” According to two of the Post’s sources, McConnell delivered that message to the president in June. McConnell wants to join with Democrats in increasing the spending caps.
I wrote last month about McConnell chewing out Trump’s budget chief over the spending caps. Now it is clear that McConnell wants to blow up Trump’s final remaining leverage point. Both national security conservatism and fiscal conservatism are dead as a doorknob in the GOP-controlled Senate, and there is no sign that will change with the upcoming election.
Let’s review how we got here.
After refusing to fight on a single budget or debt ceiling when Republicans held trifecta control of government, Trump finally fought his way to a standstill in the beginning of this year. The budget bill Trump signed in February and the subsequent supplement bills were supposed to be Trump’s leverage point to go on offense on the border issue, change policies incentivizing the invasion, and fund more detention space and deportations for ICE.
Yet instead, Republicans allowed Democrats to move the Overton window of expectations and shift the landscape of the political debate far to the left. The February budget bill included a bar on building a border wall in the most critical cartel smuggling corridors, a provision inviting illegal immigrants to get amnesty in return for sponsoring more illegal aliens, and limiting, instead of expanding, ICE detention space.
Then Republicans completely surrendered on the disaster aid bill. Next, they requested a border bill from Democrats that had no funding for enforcement, detention space, or deportations and only had funding for humanitarian aid for illegal immigrants, refugee resettlement for self-trafficked Central American teens, and legal aid so they can sue for more extra-constitutional rights. Democrats moved the Overton window even further to the Left by having their House leaders balk at the bill and propose an even more radical bill that would have gone backwards on the border and would have essentially shut down a large amount of immigration enforcement through new policy changes.
Ultimately, Democrats knew the House bill would never pass, but because Republicans started negotiations with the Senate bill that was, in some ways, worse than current law, they allowed Democrats to both look like they were giving in but also moving expectations further to the Left.
This is where we stand with the September budget bill. Let’s face it: There is no way the White House aides will allow the president to engage in a budget fight right before next year’s election. So this is the last chance for him to enact his priorities or expose the Democrats for their extremism. But Democrats are beginning negotiations by setting their goalpost for the budget with their original House bill. They are also demanding a busting of the budget cap and a free extension of the debt limit. Republicans already agree on the two latter points.
This will allow Democrats to once again win everything they want on immigration and spending, while also showing how they “gave ground” by not responding to the border crisis with even more limitation on deportations than current law.
Illegal immigration is more than double the levels of Obama’s final year, and spending is 18 percent higher. The budget bill is Trump’s final opportunity to fight on both. If Republicans plan to surrender on spending and the debt ceiling, at least use that as a bargaining chip to get more ICE funding. After all, if we are going to bankrupt ourselves on Democrat welfare programs, at least spend more money on getting rid of criminal aliens so we don’t have to pay for their lifetimes of trouble as well.
What are we left with if Trump does not fight for us, beginning now, for the September budget bill? The deficit has grown 23 percent in the first nine months of this fiscal year, even though revenue is up three percent. The government has now spent more money this fiscal year (to date) than even in 2009, when we were suffering from the worst recession in decades.
If McConnell is allowed to convince Trump to throw away his presidency with this budget bill, we will be left with nothing but debt and illegal immigration. And the American taxpayer paying for both.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.