While everyone was celebrating the newly won freedom of a rapper in Sweden, President Trump signed a two-year, $2.7 trillion dollar budget deal to kick our fiscal can down the road and plunge us into previously unseen depths of debt.
The new law suspends the debt ceiling through July 2021, meaning the spending limits we placed on ourselves will be ignored. It raises domestic and military spending by more than $320 billion compared to existing law over the next two fiscal years. But most importantly—to our elected leaders, anyway—it removes the threat of a default during the 2020 elections, removing a headache the president would rather not deal with during campaign season.
In addition to alleviating many of the budget fights that were looming on the horizon, Trump is touting the bill primarily because it boosts military spending. Under the deal, defense spending will increase roughly 3% over current levels and nondefense spending will go up around 4%.
“Budget Deal is phenomenal for our Great Military, our Vets, and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! Two year deal gets us past the Election,” the president tweeted Thursday before the Senate vote. “Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!”
PDT has promoted this budget deal several times over the past two weeks without ever mentioning funding for the wall, which is concerning to those who voted for his agenda as opposed to his personality. The Military Industrial Complex has been showered with literally more money than they can keep up with while the administration has not been able to secure 0.011% of the budget for a wall. Yes, you’re reading that right. We cannot get 1/10 of one cent for the president’s main campaign promise while Democrats have fully funded and even got spending increases for all their agenda items. Trump supporters have been spat on continuously for going on three years.
I suppose it could be because our budgets are negotiated by two Democrats: Steve Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi.
All Hope Is Not Lost
While the early returns and its accompanying rhetoric aren’t exactly inspiring, there is still a chance we may secure wall funding.
While the deal averts a debt default, it does not remove the possibility of a government shutdown at the conclusion of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Instead, it sets spending levels for House and Senate appropriators.
Congress still must pass roughly a dozen spending bills, or a package containing the various bills, which PDT also must sign to keep the government open. That means we technically have a chance to include the wall during the appropriations process. Unfortunately, the purse is controlled by the House, which is now controlled by Democrats (not that it mattered when Republicans were in charge).
We have two strategies for securing wall funding: pressure on red state Dims and/or establishing fungibility in military funding. The former means the GOP would have to put a full court press on Dems from Trump-heavy districts and try to cobble together enough moderate Dim support along with GOP support to outvote Pelosi. The latter means negotiators could try to establish rules with military appropriations that allow the president to shift money without having to declare emergencies or go through the judiciary.
We’re at a disadvantage due to the outcome of the last government shutdown, in which Trump conceded to Dims with nothing to show for it. That means shutdown threats are effectively impotent and Dims will happily walk from the table anytime they please without fear of political repercussions.
This is the time for President Trump to show off the dealmaking skills that got him elected. If the Trump base is humiliated once again with another $3 trillion spent and little more than breadcrumbs to show for it, it’s going to adversely affect his campaign. Unfortunately, I fear the president is content with the few billion he’s got to replace old fencing and will ride that through to election day. I pray I’m proven wrong.
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