The Republican defeat on the spending bill they passed

3237249328_4313b14e58_z (2)Republicans control the presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.  And yet, in passing the spending bill to keep the government funded through September, Republicans gave away just about everything they stood for in order to get Democratic votes.

President Trump had proposed major cuts to make up for increased spending in defense and a few other areas.  The spending was increased, but the proposed cuts were dropped.

President Trump wanted to cut out funding for the arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  These survived.  So did funding for Planned Parenthood.

Some agencies that Trump wanted to cut actually had their funding increased.

Are Republicans incapable of governing?  Is their party effective only when it is in opposition?

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Will the government shut down?

512px-Important_government_shutdown_notice_for_the_Stature_of_LibertyBack when we had a divided government, with President Bush and a Democratic congress and with President Obama and a Republican Congress, we were always in danger of having the government shut down over an inability of the branches of our government to agree on spending bills.

Now both the presidency and the legislative branch are in Republican hands, but we still are facing a government shutdown.  The ability of the government to fund its operations will cease unless all sides can agree on a spending measure by Friday.

President Trump, who sparked some of the controversy by insisting that his wall with Mexico be funded, has walked back that idea. [Read more…]

Trump’s budget

6629080867_016b010de5_zPresident Trump released his proposed budget.  It boosts defense spending, Veterans’ benefits, school choice, and homeland security.  But it dramatically slashes the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

It cuts most agency’s appropriations and eliminates some of them completely.  See the list of agencies and programs that Trump’s budget would eliminate entirely.

Among the entities that would be zeroed out are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

You can read the entire budget proposal here.

Congress, including its Republican members, are criticizing the “draconian” cuts.

Those Republicans have been talking for years about the need to cut the budget and to pare back all of the things our government has become involved with, at great expense.  And yet this is the first Republican budget I can recall that actually made those changes.

Let me comment on one sacred cow that is being sacrificed:  the National Endowment for the Arts.  Some are saying, if the NEA ceases to exist, the arts will be doomed!  But the arts thrived before the NBA got started under the Johnson administration.  In fact, the arts were surely more interesting and even more experimental and controversial back then–think of surrealism, abstract expressionism, pop art, and you name the movement–when artists were competing for audiences rather than federal grants. [Read more…]

Trump’s “America first” budget

Pentagon_satellite_imagePresident Trump will submit a budget that he says will put “America first.”  Defense spending will jump 10%, a $54 billion increase.  That money will come from what we used to spend for foreign aid and from big cut-backs to most other federal agencies.

Law enforcement and Veterans’ benefits will also get more money.  Trump vowed that Social Security and Medicare will not be cut.

Details about the cuts to other agencies and services will be announced later.  Those may prove quite dramatic.  Look for some agencies, such as the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, to get eliminated altogether.

Also coming later will be the president’s tax plan.  He has promised a big tax cut, which will put further pressure on the need to cut spending.

The military has been somewhat neglected financially during the Obama years, but if we are going to put America first, cut back on foreign entanglements, and insist that other countries defend themselves instead of expecting America do it, do we really need to spend so much more on our military?  Or does this military increase signal that America will continue to project its power on the world scene?  Or does it mean that we are building a defensive wall, so to speak, around our country so that nobody dare attack us?

UPDATE:  Tonight President Trump addresses a joint session of Congress at 9:00 p.m. ET.  Democrats are planning to pack the gallery with immigrants, Muslims, and Meryl Streep.  Expect lots of booing and jeering, trying to make the President lose his cool.  But he will probably be announcing his Congressional agenda, so this will be important.   I’ll put up a post tonight if you want to comment on the address as it unfolds–I may or may not take part in that–or discuss it afterwards.
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Where your tax dollars go

The Heritage Foundation has an interesting report entitled  The Breakdown of Where Your Tax Dollars Go.  After the jump, an informative graphic. [Read more…]

“Mission Accomplished” on the deficit

President Obama has declared victory in the economic sphere, pointing to decreased budget deficits and slowed growth in the cost of health care.  We may now, he said, dispense with “mindless austerity” when it comes to government spending.  But, as Fred Hiatt points out, such optimism is fine “if your horizon is Jan. 20, 2017.”  However, if you look beyond that, we are in deep trouble. [Read more…]