Guest Editorial: Omnibus budget bill drives us deeper into debt

Farmington Daily Times
Guest Editorial

President Trump should have vetoed the 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill — and not because of “the wall.”

Written behind closed doors by congressional leaders and released just 17 hours before the House of Representatives voted on it, the omnibus spending bill signed by the president on Friday was the product of a flawed approach to government that cannot be sustained.

The national debt has surpassed $21 trillion under the watch of a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican White House. Now facing trillion-dollar annual budget deficits, the latest omnibus spending bill, which will fund the federal government through Sept. 30, was rushed through, packed with pork-barrel spending and questionable legislation.

Nowhere to be seen from Republican congressional leaders was even the pretense of concern about fiscal responsibility and limited government. Americans who vote Republican increasingly can no longer rely on the purported party of fiscal responsibility and limited government to govern accordingly once they’re in power.

For all their rhetoric under the Obama administration, the tax-cut-and-spend Republicans now in charge are only continuing the problem of further indebting future generations of Americans to pay for the politically useful profligacy of today’s politicians.

This should not continue.

To his credit, President Trump expressed reservations about the bill and even considered vetoing it. While he initially cited, among other things, the lack of a DACA fix or funding for the border wall, he later decried the “ridiculous” process itself and the high cost.

“There are a lot of things we shouldn’t have had in this bill but we were, in a sense, forced if we want to build our military, we were forced to have,” Trump said after ultimately signing it. “There are some things we should have in the bill. But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again.”

Republicans are elected to scale down government spending, not to inflate it. Yet, to date, that is all we have seen under the Trump administration and the Republican leadership in Congress.

Trading unsustainable, budget-busting spending for the sake of inflated military spending is neither conservative nor responsible. Nor is passing and enacting a 2,232 page, $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill within days.

While there are sure to be some decent items included in such bills — including the perpetuation of the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment to prevent the Justice Department from cracking down on medical marijuana in states that have legalized it — there’s a lot to dislike beyond the process and the cost.

Terrible pieces of legislation that might not have stood on their own are routinely slipped into omnibus bills.  Among those slipped into this one was the CLOUD Act, which, among other things, makes it easier for our own and foreign police agencies to access the electronic communications of Americans, without a warrant. “It is a new backdoor search loophole around the Fourth Amendment,” warns the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Thanks to the dysfunctional leadership in Congress, Americans can look forward to a bigger national debt and fewer liberties.

Orange County Register, March 26