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Surprise Spending Deal

Wednesday December 16th, 2015   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 6:41am PST   •  

38665741_S On Tuesday, December 15, 2015, while the Republican Party’s presidential candidates were debating national security issues in Las Vegas, House Speaker Paul Ryan reached a budget appropriations deal with congressional Democrats and the White House for how the U.S. government will spend the $1.1 trillion that his predecessor, John Boehner, signed on to spend before his resignation on October 30, 2015.

Is it a good deal? From the standpoint of fiscal responsibility, the answer is “clearly not”, which perhaps explains Speaker Ryan’s comments that were reported by CNN back on December 7, 2015:

Washington (CNN) – Paul Ryan wants to prove he’s changed things in the House, and that he won’t cut the kind of late night, back room deals that former Speaker John Boehner worked out with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that infuriated conservatives….

Boehner may be gone, but the underlying dynamic in House hasn’t changed – there is a bloc of conservatives that won’t back any spending bill unless it includes some controversial items — like defunding Obamacare — that are non-starters for Democrats and will draw President Barack Obama’s veto. Ryan also recognizes he will be forced to accept some Democratic priorities in the bill in order to get their votes to pass it, and that too will antagonize those on the right flank of his conference.

The balancing act is tough — and the speaker is looking to keep his fingerprints off the bill for as long as he can. He told House Republicans at a closed-door meeting on Thursday the process and end-of-year timing was a “crap sandwich.”

That said, with Boehner’s budget deal having set the amount of federal government spending that would be authorized, all that was left were the exact details of how that much money would be divided up among different political priorities in an environment where portions of the U.S. government were at risk of shutting down.

The Daily Signal‘s Josh Siegel describes some of the more notable components of the 2,009 page spending bill and a companion 233-page “tax-extenders” bill:

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., are able to brag about at least some policy provisions included in the spending bill, most significantly measures ending a 40-year-old ban on oil exports and stopping what Republicans refer to as a bailout of Obamacare’s risk corridor program for health insurers.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., were able to block most of the high-profile provisions conservatives sought.

The bill does not contain measures restricting the Syrian refugee program, ending funding for Obama’s executive actions on immigration, or defunding Planned Parenthood. Conservatives also opposed the price tag of the$1.149-trillion spending bill, which was set by the Bipartisan Budget Act last month….

The tax package, meanwhile, includes a five-year extension of wind and solar tax credits, according to The Hill.

On the whole, very little positive and a whole lot of negative, for which Americans will be paying the bills for years to come. Quite the legacy for former Speaker John Boehner.

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December 2015