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Recent Spending "Agreement"

If you heard the news this morning, you know a spending “agreement” was announced over the weekend in Congress. This deal was reached between new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, and the Democrat leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer. The details we know so far are more than disappointing. They’re infuriating.

*** If you read no further, just know I’ll be voting against this. It’s a near total abdication of what Speaker Johnson was supposed to be fighting for.

Let me pause here to say I understand Republicans have a razor-thin majority in the House. And I understand liberals control the Senate and the White House. I got it! But friends, we’re $34 trillion in debt and in desperate need of spending reforms. And among other major problems caused by liberal policies, we’re now dealing with millions of illegal migrants and a wide-open border. So while I realize conservatives aren’t going to get everything we need in this legislation to get our nation back on track, I expected significantly more from this agreement.

When it comes to major spending legislation like this, two questions are important. First, how much money is being spent? And second, what policy changes are being made for the better? Let’s start with the money.

Keep in mind this entire conversation is about discretionary spending, which is what Congress is supposed to reauthorize every year. We are NOT talking about mandatory, non-discretionary spending for things like Social Security and Medicare. (Non-discretionary spending accounts for two-thirds of all federal spending, so it is a major factor. Congress needs to safeguard and protect those who are in or approaching these programs, while making commonsense reforms to keep them solvent. But that’s not today’s conversation – the issue at hand right now is discretionary spending.) 

$1.658 trillion was the real topline agreement for FY2024 reached by Schumer and Johnson over the weekend for discretionary spending. For context, depending on how you crunch the numbers, the topline for last year (FY2023) was roughly the same.

Speaker Johnson’s memo last night says this deal “could lead to” $200 billion in cuts over the next decade. But that’s woefully short of where we need to be on discretionary spending in order to balance the budget by 2034. Again, we’re talking about discretionary spending! Safe reforms to non-discretionary spending are an entirely different animal.

Now let’s move on to policy changes. After all, if Democrats are unwilling to balance the budget, at least we ought to be able to secure some meaningful policy changes in this agreement, right?

Wrong. As best I can tell, the only funding changes in this agreement that will affect policies are some minor cuts to the IRS to slow down their new army of audit agents, and clawing back some unused Covid funds. Well, those are fine but it’s not a huge victory by any stretch of the imagination. And it certainly doesn’t do anything to address the disaster Biden’s policies have caused along the border.

Anyway, I wish I had better news this Monday morning. I’m heading back to D.C. tomorrow and will keep you all updated if there’s anything significant to add on this issue.

If this is the best Republicans can do, then I fear there’s no hope of ever balancing this budget or securing our border.