Congress

Here Comes The “Hoax”

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Senator Bob Corker said the GOP's budget resolutions for fiscal 2018 are a "ruse" and a "hoax" and he was absolutely right. And you don't have to take my word for it.

While I've predicted this since the beginning of the year, we finally have our first solid indication that the federal government will be funded through the remainder of fiscal 2018 with yet another continuing resolution or something very similar.

This news comes to us from a report that Speaker Paul Ryan privately told members of his caucus that an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program could be attached to a year-end omnibus spending bill for funding the federal government.

WASHINGTON ― House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) privately conceded to a group of House conservatives on Tuesday that he plans to include a legislative fix for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children in a year-end spending deal. [...]

Two other Republicans, who were not part of the discussion but were briefed on it by a member who was in attendance, said they heard the speaker was clear that DACA would be part of a year-end deal. Ryan’s office did not return a request for comment.

Senator Corker called their budget resolution a "hoax" because passing a resolution is not the same thing as actually drafting and implementing a new, comprehensive budget through the appropriations process. Republicans pass resolutions every single year, but Congress has not completed the appropriations process since Republicans took control and there's little reason to think they'll do so anytime soon.

The possibility of the government being funded through the remainder of the fiscal year at current funding levels also means there will be no spending cuts to pay for their package of tax cuts for the rich, at least not over the next year. The Senate budget resolution for fiscal 2018 included $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, but that's not going to happen. It was never going to happen. That's why Senator Corker called it a "hoax."

Now, why would Speaker Ryan be willing to add an extension of DACA to the next big continuing resolution?

Ryan reportedly believes he will need Democratic votes to pass a year-end spending deal that preserves the status quo because, as you know, Republicans are barely capable of wiping their own asses. Asking Republicans to preserve and maintain a basic level of governance is a bit like asking kids to eat Lima beans.

If we assume Republicans will be no more willing (or even capable) to complete the appropriations process during an election year, it now seems plausible that we could still be on an Obama-era budget in fiscal 2019.

At that point, why bother? I don't want to get carried away, but if Democrats manage to retake control of at least one chamber of Congress, it's possible we'll still be on an Obama budget at the end of Trump's first term. It's also remotely possible that could happen even if Democrats don't retake control.

Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi deserve credit for seeing this coming and getting ahead of it. They convinced Trump to support a three-month spending deal in September and they convinced Trump to say he would support a legislative extension of DACA.

Assuming Ryan needs Democratic votes to avoid a government shutdown and prevent a breach of the debt ceiling, Democrats have all the leverage to preserve current levels of government funding and extend DACA.

That's not to say that Democrats won't have to give up something, like increased border security funding that doesn't include Trump's fantasy wall, but I would say that's an acceptable price to pay for codifying DACA into law.

  • 1933john

    Good governing requires empathy.

    • Scopedog

      And empathy is something the GOP–from Trump on down–is seriously lacking.

  • muselet

    For Rs, campaigning is work, but it’s fun. Holding press conferences is annoying, but fun. Holding endless hearings on the sins—mortal and venial—of Hillary Clinton is barrel-of-monkeys fun, no work involved.

    But governing? They don’t know how to do that and they don’t care to learn how to do that. Governing means making decisions, sometimes hard decisions, and making decisions can mean irritating campaign donors and offending The Base. Safer by far to avoid governing at all. Besides, it’s much more fun to have raucous conference meetings and argue over who’s a True Conservative! and who’s not.

    And the budget is really not fun. All those numbers and line items and analyses by the CBO, it’s enough to make a congresscritter weep with frustration. And there’s a constituency for every one of those line items! Why, you’d almost think that money is going to something other than wastefraudandabuse! Still, safer to avoid the whole subject: just make up an arbitrary number, declare one’s desire to cut the budget by that arbitrary percentage and go back to holding hearings about Hillary Clinton.

    The Party of Fiscal Responsibility, ladies and gentlemen!

    –alopecia

    • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

      There’s a great Jimmy Carter quote I can’t seem to find.

      (paraphrasing)It is safer to be ‘for’ the bill which fails, and ‘against’ the law which passes.

      His point is clear. If you stand “for” a bill which never becomes a law, you can dream up whatever consequences you imagine and claim them to have been the true result if only you had won. You can claim to be doing things and fighting the good fight. And, oh, if only The People would give you more funds and more power, your perfect world would come to pass. And no one can prove otherwise.

      And then, to be “against” the law that passes is safe, too. If things go well, no one will generally care much how it passed and who voted how. But if things go poorly, you can beat your chest and lament how you were wise and foresaw the terrible truth. Even if the law turns out broadly popular, but just has one aspect people don’t like (eg, ObamaCare and the mandate), you can claim the whole was good, but the unpopular aspect is what you took a principled stand against. And next time, oh, next time, won’t you listen to me??

      Carter understood this. And the Republicans took it to heart under Obama. They constructed their own alternative fantasy world and passed fantasy after fantasy.. always careful never to tie themselves to anything tangible for which they might have to account.

      And this works well for an opposition party (as we have seen).. but for the governing party…? Not so much. Unfortunately for them (fortunately for everyone else), the party is now chock full of legislators who know only how to be “against.” They’re political cowards who are afraid of sticking their necks out, so they just hide behind banalities about purist ideologies. So they are never “for” anything – and without standing for anything, there can be no progress. It’s not really so much that it’s fun as that it’s been (historically) safe: Change is inherently dangerous. But now they are expected to get things done and they don’t know how to do that.

      My only hope (futile though it may be) is that the Democrats don’t pick up on their bad habits. When the dust clears, there’s going to be a lot of work for us to do.

      • muselet

        I agree.

        –alopecia

      • Scopedog

        “When the dust clears, there’s going to be a lot of work for us to do.”

        Yep. And it will take time to get that work done–unless, of course, everyone forgets just how shitty the GOP is and elects them to take over DC again (with the help of the “both parties are the same!” purist assholes.)

        • Well if there is anything Americans have in abundance it’s the lack of long term memory.