America’s federal government will borrow more money in 2018 than in any year since the economy has been reeling from economic collapse — and Republicans made it happen.
That is an uncomfortable fact for the minority of Republicans who voted against a budget deal Friday to add $300 billion in additional funding for the military and domestic programs over the next two years and another $90 billion for disaster relief. Many budget experts believe the true cost over a decade will be $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion in new spending.
“I voted against it,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said during “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Friday. “When I ran for office in 2008, I ran for office because I thought, ‘My gosh, Republicans have lost their way. We’re spending money like we shouldn’t be spending. We’ve lost a sense of fiscal responsibility.’ And I just had déjà vu all over again.”
Cassidy did not have a lot of company, however. Defense hawks in the GOP were willing to sacrifice fiscal restraint on the domestic side of government in order to get more money for the Pentagon. Only 15 other Republicans in the Senate voted “no.”
A dozen Democrats also voted against the bill, not because of debt but over objections to increased military spending or the fact that it did not include amnesty for young illegal immigrants.
Cassidy lined up with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who drew the ire of Senate Republican leaders by forcing a delay in the vote until after midnight, triggering a partial government shutdown — on paper, at least — for a few hours.
Cassidy said he supports the money to aid states hit by hurricanes and wildfires last year. But when Congress appropriated money to help his state of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he noted, lawmakers paid for it by offsetting the funding.
"There's no effort like that," he said. "So anyway, Rand's right."
The story was the same in the House of Representatives, where Republican "yes" votes outnumbered "no" votes by 2.5 to 1.
"It was depressing just to see the kind of numbers that we got," Rep. Mark Meadows (R-S.C.) said during a separate appearance on the radio show.
Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the rate of government growth will be unprecedented.
"When voters have a choice of voting for someone who votes like a Democrat who's a Republican, or a Democrat who votes like a Democrat, they'll choose Democrats every time, and they should."
"We haven't seen numbers like that ever," he said. "I mean, this is the largest increase in government spending under any president, Democrat or Republican … We've lost all credibility in terms of the fiscal restraint. And I lay the blame, really, at our Republican leadership."
Meadows noted that the House has voted five times to boost military funding and hold the rest of government even. But Friday's vote undid that.
Meadows predicted it will have electoral consequences for Republicans in the fall.
"When voters have a choice of voting for someone who votes like a Democrat who's a Republican, or a Democrat who votes like a Democrat, they'll choose Democrats every time, and they should," he said. "You know, I've very discouraged this morning."
Fiscal irresponsibility is not set in stone officially, Meadows said. The vote on Friday merely keeps the government open through March 23 and sets the budget parameters for the next two years.
Theoretically, Congress could refuse to actually appropriate the additional funding.
"But I'm not very optimistic that will happen," he added.
Last Modified: February 9, 2018, 8:10 pm