America’s credit card is maxed out. Rather than enact a budget and entitlement reforms that actually reduce spending like the President laid out in his original budget request earlier this year, Congress is set to vote to raise the credit limit and pile mountains of debt on future generations.
The $1.4 trillion agreement would keep the federal government open through fiscal year 2021 and increases the federal debt ceiling through the same period of time. This represents an increase of $326.5 billion in additional spending compared to the original budget caps set in 2011 and only $77 billion in offsets according to CBO. The increased spending levels only being partially offset or paid for, runs counter a tenet of conservative governance. Accordingly, some Republican House of Representative members have described this deal as “fiscally irresponsible.”
It’s clear President Trump had little role in the negotiations. He delegated much of the deal making to Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin. As the Club for Growth stated, the “Pelosi-Mnuchin” deal would no doubt have been much better if President Trump had taken the lead given his hard work to “restrain Congress’s unending desire to spend.”
Bipartisan deficit financed government spending is never a good thing, but there are elements of the budget deal that represent major wins for this administration. Most importantly, this is not a “continuing resolution” but an actual longer-term budget. This could provide two years of funding stability to essential programs and stave off political brinkmanship Washington Democrats could use to undermine our ongoing economic success. While there will no doubt be other political standoffs, we could all enjoy a two-year reprieve of continually being on the verge of another government shutdown, which tend to cost more – both politically and fiscally – than they are actually worth.
President Trump procured a sizeable increase in defense spending, which is extremely important to the president’s goals of rebuilding our armed forces and modernizing the military. This increase is especially beneficial for the thousands of Mississippians directly employed by the Department of Defense of Defense or some of their major defense contractors with operations in Mississippi like the Raytheon plant in Forest.
As Senator Wicker correctly noted, the deal would provide “steady and adequate funding for our national security over the next two years.”
The deal also provides additional support for our veterans to improve medical care and affiliated benefits. The budget deal is “clean” in legislative nomenclature meaning it does not include any controversial policy provisions, referred to as “poison pills” that bring up issues outside of the budget itself. In the past, controversial policy provisions related to abortion, the environment or healthcare have tainted the budgets with issues that should addressed in a more constructive and substantive way that the budgetary process typically does not allow.
Presidents never get exactly what they want in the budgeting process. President Trump is a savvy businessman that has taken a different tact to budgeting that if implemented in its purest form would have set this country on a path towards a more balanced future. Unfortunately, Secretary Mnuchin failed to deliver for the President and time has run out to secure a better deal.
This is the reason why the President is out advocating support for an otherwise conservatively disastrous deal. Addressing the budget deficit in a meaningful way will require taking on unpopular reforms to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, among others. This means it will be a second term issue for any president. President Trump has the propensity to take on these major reforms but he must first be reelected.
Like any compromise, there are two ways to look at it: either everyone is a little happy or everyone is a little upset. Speaker Pelosi will gleefully pass this massive spending package before jetting off for her August recess. Republicans can take a not-so-great deal today and work toward winning back the House of Representatives, holding the Senate and ensuring President Trump is reelected in 2020 to get a much better deal in the future. This no doubt requires some measure of voter faith, but voter faith that has the ability to produce exponential returns. Strong conservative majorities across the board is the only way America will escape from the death spiral of government excess and finally get our nation’s fiscal future on a much better path.
Mandy Gunasekara is a Senior Contributor for Y’all Politics and the Founder of Energy 45. She previously served as a Senior Official to President Trump in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.