Congress Reaches Budget Deal That Will Send Deficit Soaring (further)

After the U.S. government shut down briefly Thursday night, the Congress reached a budget deal that allowed it to reopen early Friday morning. The 2-year budget agreement promises to add more than $300 billion more to the national deficit. Coupled with the $1.5 trillion tax cuts from last month, the federal deficit is now projected to reach 1.2 trillion dollars by 2019.

Senator Rand Paul delayed the Senate vote, complaining about what the increased spending would do to the deficit (despite Paul having voted for the earlier $1.5. trillion tax cuts). But the bill finally cleared the Senate, and then moved to the House.

Because of opposition from some House conservatives to the huge spending increases contained in the bill, House Republicans lacked sufficient votes to pass it. But the bill also included many so-called “entitlements” intended to lure Democrat votes. In the end, it worked. Despite the bill not including any protection for “Dreamers,” 73 Democrats voted for the bill enough to ensure its passage.

Trump signed the bill into law early Friday morning.

There was pushback from both sides of the aisle. Chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows (R-NC), accused Republican leadership of “caving” at the expense of taxpayers. And liberal Democrats were incensed that House Democrats would capitulate without a fix for Dreamers.

Military spending will increase to $700 billion, which is a 10% increase over what it is at present, and domestic spending to almost $600 billion. But the battle for specific allocation of those funds is still ahead.

To add to the controversy, on Monday morning, Feb.12th, Donald Trump released his own $4.4 trillion budget proposal. As expected, it included large increases for the military, and severe cuts to domestic programs, including Medicare. If enacted as written, President Trump’s budget would create deficits over $7 trillion in the coming decade.  

by Camilla Warrender and Zoe Licata (Boston, Massachusetts)

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