The Corner

Politics & Policy

You Get a Spending Boost! And You Get a Spending Boost! And You…

Greetings from Colorado Springs — altitude 6,035 feet — where I’m attempting to follow the locals’ wise advice to drink water constantly. I’ve felt weird since I arrived; I spent two years in Ankara, Turkey (altitude 3,077 feet) and I had no problems; covered the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver (5,280 feet) and I had no problems; I made another trip to Evergreen, Colorado a few years ago (7,220 feet), and had no problems…  but for some reason, on this trip I’m getting so dehydrated I need my own personal Tennessee Valley Authority irrigation project. But things are improving slowly. I fear that when I speak to the good folks at the Leadership Program of the Rockies tomorrow, I’m going to have an endless series of “Rubio moments.”

With that in mind, from the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The Trump Era Brings Its First Genuine Bipartisan Compromise

You get a spending boost! And you get a spending boost! And you get a spending boost!

I like this quote from Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com weighing the deal that avoided any significant government shutdown:  ”On the one hand, a move to fund the government and suspend the debt ceiling is welcomed, avoiding further disruption or worse. With the House and Senate voting to boost spending, the nation’s debt continues to expand at an unsustainable rate. This comes after the tax cut, approved late in the economic expansion added $1.5 trillion to the debt. This spree is reminiscent of the Oprah program where she exclaims, ‘you get a car,’ providing a gift to everyone in the audience. Only in this case, the cost is being put on the proverbial federal credit card.”

It’s not quite as simple as ‘Republicans got the defense spending they wanted, and Democrats got the domestic spending they wanted.’ Notice that some Republicans are touting the domestic spending in this bill. “While neither side got everything they wanted, this compromise provides critical funding that will go towards improving the VA, CHIP, the opioid epidemic, and infrastructure spending,” said Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican. “I look forward to now working with my colleagues on a solution for DACA, border security and immigration policy.”

Congressional Republicans didn’t get everything they want. Congressional Democrats didn’t get everything they want. President Trump didn’t get everything he wants. That’s… pretty much how compromises work. Last night’s “government shutdown” amounted to the store clerk locking up and putting a “be back soon” sign on the door while he runs to the bank to get more singles for change.

When the president needed to put the best spin on the deal, he tweeted, “Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”

Congressman Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican, points out that the House did what it was supposed to do and did its best to avoid massive last-minute all-in-one spending bills.

“The House completed our work on time by passing 12 appropriations bills over 100 days ago. Earlier this week, the House sent our government funding bill to the Senate. The Republican majority is so narrow in the Senate, that 9 Democrats stalled the process. As a result, $300 billion dollars were added to the measure in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Now the Democrats have the nerve to say the House can’t get our work done on time and that the budget spends too much — I believe my constituents are smarter than that.”

Congressman Jim Banks, a Republican who represents Indiana’s third district, writes in NRO about the on-the-ground consequences of the sequester and trying to operate under short-term continuing resolutions.

As the most recently deployed member of Congress, having served in Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015, I have seen our readiness crisis firsthand. It has only intensified after a period of stepped-up military activity carried out while the Budget Control Act shrank defense budgets.

Fewer than half of the Navy’s aircraft can fly, owing to lapses in maintenance and a lack of spare parts. Only 50 percent of the Air Force’s combat forces are sufficiently ready for a highly contested fight. This year alone, the pilot shortage has grown from 1,500 to 2,000. In the Marine Corps, as F-35s replace legacy aircraft, increasing the flying cost per hour, readiness will be even more difficult to achieve. Special Operations Forces are trying to maintain an extraordinarily high global operations tempo, which puts them near the breaking point.

My sense is that while we can argue the merits of particular programs, weapons, and initiatives, no matter how much Americans may think they don’t need more defense spending, the world will always surprise us with some crisis where it comes in handy.

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