COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., December 14, 2014 — Only 40 days ago, Americans were celebrating the landslide victory at the polls that brought an end to the Congressional stalemate. Republicans now own both chambers and should be getting on about the business of getting our national house in order. But since then, El Presidente declared unilateral amnesty for millions of Mexicans and dared the Republicans to do anything about it. They haven’t.
Instead, the House passed a combination continuing resolution-omnibus spending bill that will fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, except for DHS, which will only be funded to March. Conservatives are appalled. Arch-leftist Elizabeth Warren is also appalled. Nobody is happy with the bill. The Senate passed it yesterday.
Conservatives, and some liberals, are crying foul. There are accusations of betrayal, vote-hustling and out-and-out lying. Speaker Boehner once again needed to call on Democrats to get the bill passed. There are calls for his head as speaker.
Why are people surprised? What did they expect?
To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. — Otto von Bismarck
In the first place, those Mr. and Ms. Smiths we elected in November haven’t taken office yet. Americans are an impatient people. We expected that the message we strongly sent in November would be taken to heart when Congress next met. They weren’t. And the president didn’t alter course on executive amnesty, citing the people who didn’t vote.
He’s not clairvoyant. He knew that Harry Reid still held the Senate and would block any serious attempt by House Republicans to defund amnesty in the Lame Duck session.
Assuming they are well-meaning, what could House Republicans do? Should they try to win the battle outright in December or wait for the cavalry to arrive in January? The latter course is easier, safer and more likely to get signed into law than a massive frontal assault on federal spending. (For the efficacy of frontal assaults, refer back a century to World War I and look up “The Somme,” “Ypres,” and “Verdun.”)
Naturally the politicians took the easier road. Acknowledging that is not necessarily to say they were wrong to do so. They put a few goodies in the spending bill that drove the likes of Warren bonkers. Highlights include no funding for Race to the Top and Common Core standards, no new money for Obamacare, and a cut for the Independent Payment Advisory Board — the death panel — of $10 million. The EPA is blocked from controlling farm ponds and irrigation ditches. In fact, the agency is down $60 million from the last fiscal year. The cuts mean that EPA will have to reduce its staffing to the lowest levels since 1989.
It couldn’t happen to a more out-of-control bureaucracy — except the IRS, which is cut by $345.6 million. They will also be banned from targeting organizations seeking tax-exempt status based on their ideological beliefs.
On December 10, The Washington Post ran a story about these and many other things in the bill. Frankly, most don’t seem all that bad — and this is from the WaPo. A drop in the bucket to be sure, but a small step in the right direction.
Could the Republicans have gone farther without risking a presidential veto or a Senate filibuster? It is impossible for us citizens to know. Unfortunately, the druthers of the citizen-voter are just one influence on how they vote. As a class they have more in common with each other than they do with us.
The big unanswered question that keeps conservatives awake is whether the newly-elected will change the course of Washington beginning in February. The hope of the radical left is that they won’t, a hope which has some history to support it.
Some of the newly-elected are already in Congress. Cory Gardner and Tom Cotton move to the Senate from the House. Sadly, both voted for the bill. Cotton is especially disappointing as he was supported by Senate Conservatives Fund. In Colorado, the entire delegation voted for Cromnibus except Doug Lamborn, who has a history of voting the right way on spending — no on TARP, for example.
We citizens may have learned about how a bill is supposed to become a law in civics class, but we’ve never been taught the specifics of how it actually does become one. Now that out-of-control government has finally got our attention, we don’t like what we see.
Nor should we. Butchers and sausage-makers are highly-skilled tradesmen. Although some of the ingredients may surprise, their methods are good, and the proof of the sausage is in the tasting. As with sausage, laws contain a lot of pork and other surprise ingredients. When the laws come out badly, it’s time to question methods and change out the law makers. Just like you would change your butcher.