After Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer came to a budget agreement they both could live with, they were praised mightily by both President Donald Trump and the White House at large. Trump signaled his pleasure at the legislation on Twitter while Sarah Sanders went into detail with a statement saying that the agreement was essential to meet the president’s defense spending priorities. Sanders said the Senate deal would give the federal government a great deal of “certainty” for the next two years while handing a “much needed” increase in funding to the Pentagon.
On the other hand, the $400 billion budget has been met with fierce resistance from conservatives who think Republicans have lost their way when it comes to managing the people’s money. Chief among the critics was Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who penned an editorial for the Washington Examiner expressing his dismay with the reckless budget. Paul’s gripe isn’t as much with the bottom line as it is with Congress’ ongoing failure to strike an actual budget deal (instead of continuing resolution after continuing resolution), which allows Capitol Hill to ignore the steadily growing problem of increased debt.
“This year, the government will borrow nearly a trillion dollars,” he wrote. “The overall debt now exceeds $20 trillion and threatens our national security. We have already had one shutdown, and we are now a third of the way through our fiscal year with no real budget in sight.
“When was the last time Congress passed all of their spending bills? 1997. Only four times in 41 years has Congress done its job. That’s absurd,” he continued. “It’s also unsustainable and a reckless abandonment of our responsibility – one that threatens our national security and limits our economic potential.”
Paul’s argument is that the “shutdown” fix is a sneaky way for Washington to get what it wants without having to do the hard work of actually governing. The pressure comes down from on high – If you don’t vote for this bill, we’ll shut it down – and everyone falls in line. He’s introducing a bill that would penalize the federal government for failing to meet its obligations.
“My bill forces Congress to act or lose funding,” he wrote. “If Congress doesn’t pass the individual appropriation bills as they are supposed to, government spending will be cut 1 percent. It may not seem like much, but cutting 1 percent a year balances the budget in four years.”
As much as we would love to see the party of fiscal responsibility actually BECOME the party of fiscal responsibility, it seems we’ll need a major financial/security crisis before anyone in Washington actually takes our spiraling national debt seriously. The pressure just isn’t there.
When it finally arrives, Sen. Paul will have every right to say he told us so.