The (probably) last major act of an anti-spending Congress: A $1.3 trillion budget-busting bill

The more than 2,200-page spending bill — and signed by President Trump — gave the Pentagon its biggest spending increase in 15 years, a top GOP priority. But it also included full funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, despite Trump’s initial proposal to cut its funding from $465 million to $15 million.

.. More than 60 percent of Republicans in the House and the Senate voted for the legislation, a sign that the GOP might be returning to its big-spending ways of early last decade.

Back then, amid a major ramp-up in defense spending at the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans accepted big increases in domestic spending as well and created a new entitlement within Medicare. GOP leaders at the time exploded the earmark system, allowing even the lowliest rank-and-file lawmakers to direct millions of dollars to pet projects in their districts. Republicans believed the big spending helped shore up their incumbents’ standing back home.

.. Now, the Republican-led decision to bust those caps for the next two years raises the specter that the tough talk on deficits applied only when Democrats held the White House.

“Had the 2016 election gone a different way and we had a Democratic president, and we controlled the House and Senate, I can’t imagine us being in a situation where we would vote tonight or tomorrow for a bill that’s going to add $2 trillion in debt,” Corker said.

John Bolton Is Right About the U.N.

The U.N. is a never-ending scandal disguised as an everlasting hope. The hope is that dialogue can overcome distrust and collective security can be made to work in the interests of humanity. Reality says otherwise. Trust is established by deeds, not words. Collective security is a recipe for international paralysis or worse. Just ask the people of Aleppo.

.. Contrary to the belief that the U.N. runs on a shoestring, total expenditure for the U.N. system in 2016 was around $49 billion. That’s up 22 percent since 2010. And the abuse of the U.N. system by states such as Russia to protect clients like Bashar al-Assad is a feature of the system, not a bug.

.. “If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result. The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again.”

.. The U.N. adopted what were supposed to be landmark reforms more than decade ago. Yet the mismanagement, corruption, abuses and moral perversities remain.

  • Iran sits on the executive board of the Commission on the Status of Women. The
  • Syrian regime is represented on the U.N.’s Special Committee on Decolonization, dedicated to “respect for self-determination of all peoples.” In October, Zimbabwe’s
  • Robert Mugabe was named a good-will ambassador by the World Health Organization, until an outcry forced the director general to think better of it.

.. “Imagine if the U.N. was going to the United States and raping children and bringing cholera,” Mario Joseph, a Haitian lawyer seeking compensation for the U.N.’s victims, told The A.P., “Human rights aren’t just for rich white people.”

Budgets, Bad Faith and ‘Balance’

Over the past couple of months Republicans have passed or proposed three big budget initiatives.

  1. First, they enacted a springtime-for-plutocrats tax cut that will shower huge benefits on the wealthy while offering a few crumbs for ordinary families — crumbs that will be snatched away after a few years, so that it ends up becoming a middle-class tax hike.
  2. Then they signed on to a what-me-worry budget deal that will blow up the budget deficit to levels never before seen except during wars or severe recessions.
  3. Finally, the Trump administration released a surpassingly vicious budget proposal that would punish not just the vulnerable but also most working families.

.. Washington is full of professional centrists, whose public personas are built around a carefully cultivated image of standing above the partisan fray, which means that they can’t admit that while there are dishonest politicians everywhere, one party basically lies about everything.

News organizations are intimidated by accusations of liberal bias, which means that they try desperately to show “balance” by blaming both parties equally for all problems.

The Deficit Problem in a Chart

The most important thing to understand about the U.S. budget, Donald Trump or no, is illustrated by the nearby chart. Even with Mr. Trump’s modest increases, defense barely rises as a share of federal outlays. In 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, defense was 26.5% of outlays. In 2019 it will be 15.6%.

Meantime, look at “payments for individuals,” which encompass such income transfers as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and food stamps, among other things. This category was 47.7% of outlays in 1989 and has steadily climbed to reach an estimated 69.2% in 2019.

.. Net interest on the federal debt soaks up another 7.4% of outlays for 2018, and that will rise with interest rates.