New York Post, December 20, 2022
There are only 15 legislative Looting Days left until a new Congress takes office. Voters last month sent Washington a “cease-and-desist” order by giving Republicans control of the House of Representatives. But congressional Democrats are racing to spend almost $2 trillion more before the clock runs out.
President Joe Biden spent recent months portraying Republicans as a dire threat to the survival of democracy. But the biggest enemies of democracy nowadays are on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared last week that “we’re on a good path now to get something done.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer implored his Democratic colleagues: “We must take full advantage . . . to deliver results for the people.” Except for the people who voted in the most recent election.
The New York Times hailed lame-duck sessions as “a unique political grace period for lawmakers leaving Congress. . . . Re-elected lawmakers may feel freer to act after securing another term.” Freeing representatives from voters’ approval is the new, improved “will of the people.” Never before has Congress passed a massive omnibus appropriations bill after the control of half of Congress changed parties.
“Train wreck” is the kindest term for what Congress will likely produce. The Washington Post reported last week that “congressional leaders have again waited until deep into the holiday season to assemble must-pass bills — and they’ve used them as legislative Christmas trees, attaching unrelated measures small and large.”
The secret omnibus bill could be made public any day now. House Republicans were effectively excluded from the negotiations for this monstrosity. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) condemned the “corrupt tactics” behind this bill.
Democrats are addicted to spending money the government doesn’t have to enact programs American citizens don’t want. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget warned that Congress’ year-end spending rush could enact changes that “add up to $4.5 trillion to 10-year deficits in a worst-case scenario.”
Milton Berle quipped in the 1950s, “You can lead a man to Congress but you can’t make him think.” Or read. Congress will likely pass the massive bill without giving members time to do anything more than count the pages. Never forget Pelosi’s 2010 excuse for enacting ObamaCare: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”
The size of the omnibus bill will be the exact gauge of Washington’s contempt for the American people. Ignorance of the law is an excuse only for the congressmen who voted for the law. Members of Congress are effectively claiming a divine right to govern recklessly.What theory of representative government assumes citizens should be plundered thanks to congressmen enacting legislation they did not even peruse? This is more like dictating terms to a conquered foreign province than self-government.
Democrats are hustling to use the omnibus bill to permanently enact so-called child tax credits (federal handouts for any non-millionaires with kids) and get more money for monkeypox (even though the official emergency expired).
The bill will likely contain more than 7,500 earmarks — federal funds for often dubious projects favored by individual members of Congress (whose names are sometimes kept secret). Earmarks were previously banned because of pervasive bribery, but Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer revived them last year.
Biden and his media allies have endlessly exploited the Jan. 6 protesters for delaying for a few hours the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Since then, Congress has had almost two years to govern responsibly and transparently — and has utterly failed. Oversight by Democratic-controlled congressional committees has been rarer than coherent presidential speeches.
Democratic leadership spent its time demagoguing and tub-thumping instead of enacting appropriations bills. It is not Republicans’ fault that Pelosi and Schumer failed to get bills passed before Americans voted to end Democratic control of the House.
The omnibus will need the support of 10 Republican senators to pass without a filibuster. Unfortunately, GOP Senate leadership may enable Democrats and Team Biden to carry out this travesty. Too many Republicans would pawn their own grandmothers in exchange for two gushing references in The Washington Post.
Rather than shooting blindly and enacting a massive unread bill, Congress should pass a continuing resolution that perpetuates the status quo and leaves the budget and other decisions for the new Congress citizens voted for.
The omnibus debacle is a reminder why Americans disapprove of Congress by a more than 3-to-1 margin (73% to 22%). There is no “holy ghost of democracy” benevolently hovering over Capitol Hill. Comedian Lily Tomlin long ago supplied the best epithet for this lame-duck Congress: “No matter how cynical you get, it’s never enough to keep up.”
James Bovard is the author of 10 books and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.