by Bethany Blankley
On the eve of the Senate voting on an omnibus bill already passed by the House, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz lit a cigar and said, “The spending bill the Senate is voting on [Thursday] is lobbyist boondoggle that belongs in an ashtray.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the $1.4 trillion spending package Thursday. It is 2,313 pages and several feet thick. No one has read it, Cruz says; the Senate received it two days before the vote was scheduled after it was put together by Republican leadership and New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer.
“There isn’t a person alive who has read this piece of garbage,” Cruz said.
“While you were shopping for Christmas, the lobbyists were spending and spending,” Cruz said, pointing to the stack of paper containing the omnibus bill.
If the bill is not approved by Dec. 20, Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government operable, or face a government shutdown.
The bill extends the Ex-IM Bank for seven years, ignoring pleas by a coalition calling on Congress to end it. The coalition argues it wastes billions of dollars of taxpayer money in corporate welfare. The group opposing it includes Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Competitive Enterprise Institute, National Taxpayers Union, Heritage Action for America, Club for Growth, Freedom Works and others.
The bill also raises the federal age to purchase tobacco to 21. No one in the House or Senate has debated the issue, Cruz notes, suggesting setting the smoking age should be left to the states and that men and women in the U.S. military facing machine gun fire would be breaking the law if they use tobacco products and are under age 21.
The bill also continues renewable tax breaks, which ATR argues “marks a return to Congress’ bad habit of routinely extending specific, temporary tax cuts for one or two years at a time instead of focusing on broad based tax reduction. Not only did this promote uncertainty, but it distorted the revenue baseline and obscured the true cost of these provisions.”
The proposal also retroactively increases taxes through the disallowance of the Alternative Fuels Mixture Credit, ATR adds.
“The retroactive repeal of the AFMC interferes with ongoing litigation, denies taxpayers due process, and creates potentially arbitrary and unfair outcomes,” ATR argues. “If Congress wants to make changes to the AFMC, it should be done on a prospective basis.”
Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, said the omnibus bill adds more than $400 billion to the national debt over the next 10 years. Doing so “is the worst possible holiday gift for our children,” he says.
Interest alone on the national debt is the fastest growing program in the federal budget, projected to cost $6 trillion over the next 10 years.
“Self-inflicted shutdown deadlines are no excuse to engage in greater fiscal irresponsibility that hurts our collective future,” Peterson adds. “While our economy is still strong, we have the opportunity to consider the many fiscal solutions in front of us that will improve economic opportunity for all Americans.”
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Bethany Blankley is a contributor to The Center Square.