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  • What to Expect from the Trillion-Dollar Omnibus

    Lawmakers in charge of funding the government with taxpayer dollars are getting closer every day to finishing their work on the trillion-dollar-plus fiscal year 2014 omnibus spending bill.

    If the spending bills drafted in 2013 are any indication, this year’s version will be loaded with pork projects and government programs that should be eliminated. Lawmakers involved in the bill are expected to try to ram it through Congress quickly to avoid as many objections as possible.

    Here is a list of what Americans can expect from this spending behemoth:

    • Few (if any) lawmakers will read the entire bill. No lawmaker in Congress will reasonably have the time to read the entire omnibus bill. This vehicle is a means to pass all of the 12 congressional spending bills necessary to fund the entire government past January 15. But instead of allowing for the debate and deliberation that 12 large spending bills deserve, Congress will vote on the entire package as one. A similar spending bill in 2010, at nearly 2,000 pages, was defeated by conservative Senators, including now-Heritage President Jim DeMint.
    • Spending will bust through the sequestration caps. This outcome is a foregone conclusion. The Ryan–Murray budget deal increases spending by $45 billion above the spending caps agreed to in 2011 by a bipartisan majority. While this new spending level presents an upper limit, it would be close to a miracle if Congress spent any less than the $1.012 trillion included in the budget deal. Instead, it is more likely that Congress will try to spend even more by exploiting budget gimmicks.
    • Congress will fund corporate welfare. Instead of eliminating programs that perform functions that should stay in the private sector, Congress continues to throw federal dollars at crony businesses. The mission statements that go along with corporate welfare programs always sound so very reasonable. Who could object to “funding activities that will help American manufacturers compete in the global marketplace” as the Advanced Manufacturing Program says it does, or to “strengthen the competitiveness of U.S. industry” as the International Trade Administration sets out to do? Taxpayers funding these programs—and businesses who are harmed when their competitors receive preferential treatment—should object.
    • Obamacare will continue. Although Obamacare remains unaffordable, unworkable, and unpopular, it is highly unlikely that there will be any major effort in this omnibus spending bill to stop Obamacare from further destroying the health care market.
    • Congress will rush to vote to avoid debate. Omnibus spending bills, given their size and reach, are too tempting a vehicle for lawmakers to resist inserting pork and harmful policy provisions. If there were more time, such red flags would be revealed, increasing opposition to the effort—which is why appropriators are expected to provide as little time as possible between introducing the bill and the final vote. As one anonymous lawmaker explained to Congressional Quarterly, the bill will be pushed through in a “blitzkrieg” effort to avoid “problems within the conference.”

    Heritage experts will comb through the omnibus as soon as it becomes available, and our analysis will become available on The Foundry to help lawmakers and the public “find out what’s in it” (quoting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) before they pass the bill.

    Posted in Capitol Hill, Front Page [slideshow_deploy]

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