The Corner

Congress Avoids Shutdown but Kicks the Can Down the Road Again

Last week, Congress passed a short-term Continuing Resolution to avoid a government shutdown. For those who think that shutdowns are politically bad, this is a victory. I for one am relieved that they didn’t use the CR as a way to restore the full-lending authority of the crony Export Import Bank and I commend the senate for it.

My Ex-Im happiness is, however, overshadowed somewhat by the fact that once again Congress resorted to a short-term CR as opposed to a long-term one. This CR funds the government only until December 9, which means that Congress will once again have to consider a massive and unaccountable 2017 spending bill during a lame-duck session. The chance of lawmakers using this opportunity to load the bill with pork projects, Ex-Im’s full revival, and other special-interest handouts (like $26 million in tax credits for NASCAR and Hollywood movie studios, $7 billion in renewable-energy subsidies, or $336 million in rum subsidies and excise tax cover over) is significant, especially since this time around since it will be president Obama’s last hurrah. For that reason, we should also expect that the president and Democrats will be pushing for billions of dollars in taxpayer money to bail out insurance companies crushed by the failed promises of Obamacare.

On top of this bailout and crony threats, we can also expect more spending. Freedom Partners has a list of the kind of spending increases that often come with Lame Duck sessions:

  • 2010 Lame Duck: Congress passed $1.6 trillion in new spending, including billions more in corporate welfare and green energy handouts.
  • 2012 Lame Duck: Congress passed $4.6 trillion in new spending, $24 billion the bipartisan spending caps established in the Budget Control Act of 2011. 
  • 2014 Lame Duck: Congress passed $1.8 trillion in new spending, including nearly 50 special tax breaks costing taxpayers $42 billion. The 2014 “CROmnibus” was the most heavily-lobbied bill of the year, with hundreds of lobbying firms representing over 650 individual clients descending upon Capitol Hill.

Continuously kicking the can down the road as Congress just did could have real and dire financial consequences for taxpayers come December. Hopefully, history won’t repeat itself, but I am not holding my breath. 

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