The mega-spending bill has passed, complete with the Christmas gift to Planned Parenthood. Peter Suderman at Reason.com gives us a way to understand what has happened: “Democrats and Republicans Team Up to Pass $1.8 Trillion Spending Package.”
One way to understand the massive federal spending package is as a compromise between Republicans and Democrats to ignore the deficit.
The deal is made of two different elements—a 2,009-page omnibus that folds in 12 appropriations bills and calls for $1.1 trillion in spending, and a separate 233-page tax “extenders” bill that continues about $650 billion worth of supposedly-but-not-really temporary tax cuts. All together, the package is worth about $1.8 trillion.
Many of the tax breaks in the extenders bill are the sorts of tax “cuts” that are the sort of targeted, incentives-and-behavior altering tax cuts and deductions that are best thought of as spending laundered through the tax code. (This includes the child tax credit, various business expensing provisions, and a credit to help people under 40 pay for tuition expenses, as well as credits for wind and solar power.)
Broadly speaking, that’s the sort of spending that Republicans tend to like. The other part of the package, meanwhile, contains the sort of spending that Democrats tend to like.
As a result the White House is boasting about how they defeated the Republican majority. The Washington Times reports,
The White House gloated Thursday that President Obama triumphed over Republican majorities on virtually all of his priorities in 2015, from a climate change pact to the Iran nuclear deal — most of which were accomplished by sidestepping Congress.
At his final press briefing of the year, White House press secretary Josh Earnest launched into a long list of goals achieved this year by Mr. Obama, starting with the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba. He noted that Republicans failed to stop the move, and said it was “an indication of how much of the year has gone.”
“There were Republicans who walked into this session of Congress emboldened by their strong new majority in the Senate and their historically large majority in the House,” Mr. Earnest said. “But their opposition to many administration priorities melted away in the face of the administration’s determined and forceful effort to advance our agenda.”
Of course, the White House couldn’t have done it all without help from Republican leadership.