Buckle Up for Democrats’ Lame Duck Holiday Spending Spree
If you think Democrats spent the past two years trying to pass bad legislation, just wait until you hear what they want to enact over the next two months. Losing their total control of Congress has them itching to ram through myriad reckless proposals and leave their mark on Washington:
Democratic leaders are already juggling several competing priorities for the lame-duck session, including efforts to pass a major defense bill, push through outstanding energy-permitting legislation, and vote on proposals redefining marriage in federal law and further changing the electoral process. Congress also needs to reach a government funding deal before its Dec. 16 deadline.
To top it off, the left also wants to pass an increase in the debt limit lasting through the 2024 elections during the coming lame-duck session of Congress that will give the Biden administration a license to continue overspending.
Some of the items in the Democrat laundry list are not per se objectionable, so much as an illustration of the way in which they frittered away their time for most of the 117th Congress. For instance, had lawmakers not spent the better part of a year trying to pass the Biden administration’s $5 trillion Build Back Bankrupt legislation, they wouldn’t have to rush through consideration of a major piece of legislation covering nearly $1 trillion in spending and the gamut of American foreign and defense policy right before the holidays.
In other cases, the legislation Democrats want to pass doesn’t include the robust reforms Americans need because it won’t authorize the type of exploration necessary to bring down fuel prices in a meaningful way for struggling families. As to codifying same-sex marriage, waiting until after the election to vote on such legislation was a convenient way for Republican lawmakers to avoid angering conservatives who believe in a biblical version of the institution.
Uncontrolled Inflation and Unsustainable Debt
Much of the debate surrounds the federal government’s habit of overspending. Interest groups are already lining up to request special favors from lawmakers in the lame-duck session. They presume, not without reason based on historical precedent, that Congress will wait until just before Christmas to pass another omnibus jam-packed with pork-barrel projects, earmarks, and other provisions the lawmakers haven’t read, let alone understand.
Those same lobbyists and Democrat leaders want Congress to pass a multitrillion-dollar debt limit increase in that same measure. Doing so, they believe, would block any attempts by a Republican-controlled chamber of Congress to utilize the debt limit as a means to control Washington’s reckless spending.
That said, when it comes to the debt limit, some well-intentioned lawmakers calling for sizable reductions in the national debt may want to bite off more than they can chew. The combination of trillions of dollars in Covid spending over the past several years and sizable increases in interest rates makes reducing the national debt a much greater challenge than in years past. Even stabilizing the national debt at its current, historically high level as a percentage of GDP will require substantial savings over a 10-year period — far higher than most lawmakers realize.
The idea that the Biden administration, which has worked to appease leftists at every corner, would sign legislation balancing the budget, or even come close to balancing the budget, seems fanciful at best. The obstacles seem far too severe, such that even if Republicans suddenly supported the progressive agenda of raising taxes on “the rich,” they couldn’t balance the budget or reduce the national debt without having to hit middle-class families as well.
However, that doesn’t mean conservative lawmakers shouldn’t try to begin the long uncomfortable process of restoring fiscal sanity over the next two years in the hope that a Republican president can continue the reforms after the 2024 election. Passing a debt limit increase during the lame-duck session would cut this effort off at the knees.
The entire talk of passing major legislation in a lame-duck session shows the cynical nature of Washington — lawmakers saying one thing to voters while campaigning come back to Capitol Hill and do the exact opposite. Recall Barack Obama’s infamous hot mic moment in March 2012, when he told then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that Vladimir Putin should “give me space” on issues like missile defense because “after my election [in November 2012] I have more flexibility.”
Conservatives shouldn’t give lawmakers a pass to act in such a contemptuous manner toward voters. Passing more big-spending legislation — and a debt limit increase to fund that big-spending legislation — after the Republicans narrowly won a majority in the House of Representatives by vowing to end such reckless conduct would be insulting to the American public. Coming from a president who has spent the past two years shouting about the purported threats to American democracy, it would show that the Democrat Party, along with any Republicans who would endorse such shenanigans, has absolutely no interest in the point of democracy itself: listening to the people.
This post was originally published at The Federalist.