Lost in the hullabaloo and nonstop coverage of the impeachment farce was the fact that the week before Christmas, the swamp triumphed yet again with the passage, and then signing, of a $1.4 trillion omnibus bill. Sure, Trump got his defense spending, but he vowed in March 2018 never again to sign a bill like this.
Yet here we are.
This dumpster fire of a bill was a middle finger to the American people, especially the Trump base. It’s almost as though the people writing it in the middle of the night tried to figure out how many items they could slip into the bill that would be insulting to the MAGA crowd.
Amnesty for thousands and thousands of Liberians? Got that. Border security? Well, sure. Let’s toss a measly $1.4 billion towards our southern border wall, but by God, let’s make sure we’ve got the kingdom of Jordan covered with $500 million for its border security and let’s not forget the Afghan Security Forces with $4.2 billion.
Apparently the Afghan war papers that came out recently didn’t dissuade our dear representatives from wasting even more of our taxpayer dollars on that God-forsaken place. Speaking of, we’ve been there for nearly 20 years. Can anyone really give a commonsense, coherent reason why? And please don’t give me the tired line about how we have to fight for “democracy” and all that, nor the line of “we have to prevent Islamic jihadists from creating a power base.” We could do that for a fraction of the cost by defending our own borders, but damn those facts. Let’s keep spending tens of billions of dollars a year in a place no one ever wins; just ask Great Britain and Russia.
Speaking of winning, Planned Parenthood got a win with the bill: it’s funding wasn’t touched. Abortions through ObamaCare? Still intact, though no such luck for the babies affected by it. Money for gun violence studies by the Center for Disease Control? Sure, why not? Because nothing says freedom like using taxpayer dollars to study gun control. And come to think of it, why the CDC? How did gun control become a CDC issue? Is gun ownership now considered a disease?
There were other wins for the swamp creatures: Corporate subsidies for renewable energies? You mean the industry pursuing a fix to a hoax? Yep, check that box. Any movement on putting an end to sanctuary cities? Meh. Apparently they’re fine as the bill basically leaves them alone. But those swamp creatures made sure to slip in an ombudsman for ICE detention centers so agents can be harassed and undermined while doing their jobs.
And let’s not forget raising the smoking age to 21. You can fight wars in Afghanistan, you can make idiotic decisions to spend hundreds of thousands on a worthless college degree, but by God, to save the world, 20-year-olds shouldn’t be permitted to buy a pack of cigarettes because that would be terrible.
The bill was quintessential swamp, a grab bag of disgusting, written by the ruling class of Republicans and Democrats to benefit themselves and their special interest cronies’ demented priorities and worldview.
This bill is Exhibit A for what is wrong with D.C. In a constitutional republic, all power flows from the people to their representatives to be the stewards of the power and monies entrusted to them. That political power and money is to be used to advance and benefit the American people and reflect their priorities. This is the only moral imperative of every elected leader in this country: To prioritize the interests of the people he or she serves. For them to do otherwise is to be deeply immoral. And yet our ruling class continues to use the American taxpayer as its ATM to fund its own interests.
This is a situation that cannot, and must not, last.
We sent Trump to the swamp to veto bills like this, not to facilitate them. Sure, he got his defense spending with over $730 billion, but on that note, handing money to the military-industrial complex without accountability is the last thing we need.
We absolutely need a strong defense in the face of the growing China threat, but allocating hundreds of billions of dollars while ignoring the waste of billions upon billions of dollars at the Pentagon is a recipe not only for for more waste, fraud, and abuse, but likely also for more unnecessary interventions to justify the continued funding.
What Trump should have done was to make it very clear, as some thought he did last year, that he would not sign another bill like this. He should have vetoed it, dared Congress to override that veto, and then made it clear he would only sign a clean, six week continuing resolution to keep government running. After the holidays everyone could return to D.C. to have a conversation about what should and shouldn’t be funded.
Trump’s apparent willingness to continue to sign such bills undermines his other wins, like his tax cuts, big time. Although those tax cuts have lit the economy on fire and we have increased Treasury revenue by 4 percent, we are running trillion-dollar deficits because of omnibus bills like the latest one. An economy like ours can’t keep running forever. The out-of-control spending eventually will undo and destroy all the good that could have been done.
So next time—and there will be a next time—the president must hold the line and say “No!” Trump cannot drain the swamp if he continues to fund the swamp.