Senators Rand Paul, my former boss, and Mike Lee have created a firestorm this week because they temporarily blocked Senate consideration of a 9-11 responder bill that aids those suffering from illnesses or disease related to working on or near the site of the World Trade Center in New York City after the terrorist attacks of 2001. There is no dispute that first responders, and those who helped in the weeks after the attacks, are American heroes deserving of aid. Even so, Senators Paul and Lee were correct to block the bill.
The Hill reported on July 17, 2019, “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) tried to win the Senate's consent to approve the House-passed bill, which would reauthorize funding until fiscal 2090. The bill cleared the House in a 402-12 vote last week.” As quoted by The Hill, Sen. Paul said, “It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in the country and therefore any new spending … should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable. We need to, at the very least, have this debate." The point Sens. Paul and Lee were trying to make is that the leadership of both parties refuse to cut one cent of spending on any program, no matter how wasteful or needless, to pay for new important spending programs. This legislation costs the taxpayer $10.2 billion over the next 10 years.
Our current Republican and Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are on track to further hike spending going forward and they have zero desire to cut one cent from existing federal programs. Politico reported on July 17, 2019 “White House officials and congressional leaders are drawing closer to a two-year budget agreement that also raises the debt ceiling, although both sides caution that some serious obstacles remain to a deal.” The deal is terrible and they don’t want it hanging out long enough for the American people to understand it. Our nation is experiencing over $22 trillion in national debt with over one trilling on overspending projected annually for years to come, yet this Congress is cutting a deal to remove all restraint to government overspending.
The “deal” is a train wreck for the American people and likely will inch the United States closer to insolvency. Politico reported that the deal would “raise discretionary spending caps for the next two years, as well as boost the debt limit.” Translated from Washington speak into English – caps in law today that automatically cut spending shall be tossed in the trash and the no limit credit card of the Administration will be extended. Instead of conservatives using this opportunity to dust off Cut, Cap and Balance, Sen. Paul’s Pennies Plan, or some other effective means to rein in spending, they are out to lunch on this fight.
This fight over the 9-11 bill is a small skirmish in the big picture fight within the Republican Party to find cuts to spending to fund worthwhile programs – like this one. The fact that two Senators blocked consideration because they wanted a recorded vote and the opportunity to offer amendments to find cuts to fund this effort is laudable. Sen. Gillibrand wanted to fast track this bill to avoid the delay of an actual debate and the possibility of amendments to the bill that would slow it down. All the Senate has to do is follow the rules of the Senate and bring the bill up for consideration like any other bill and it will pass. Gillibrand needed some oxygen for her struggling campaign so she scheduled this political virtue signaling show this week to bully members who want to pay for it.
Many liberals make the flawed argument that conservatives support for the Trump tax cuts, about $2 trillion over ten years, yet opposition to this bill shows hypocrisy. Yet that argument falls flat on it’s face when you consider that only in Washington would allowing Americans to keep more of the money they earned as a “cost.” The federal government has no right to Americans' money, yet Washington scores a lowering of taxes on the American people as a “cost.” It is the taxpayers’ money and it costs the government nothing when they let people keep more cash.
The hysteria will likely end when this bill passes in the next week or soon after the August recess, yet bullies will try to attack Senators Paul and Lee for daring to force politicians to find programs to cut to pay for a program that helps American heroes get needed health care after they responded to the 9-11 terrorist attack. If 9-11 advocates want to get mad at somebody, they need to look at the members who drafted a bill without any effort to pay for the new spending.
This episode shows that both the Republicans and Democrats in leadership in the D.C. Swamp don’t care about out of control spending – not one bit.