Many in Washington tapped into their inner Gore Vidal for this one.
The word “compromise” in Washington is code for “no one got anything what they asked for.” In past spending bills, compromise was the mantra. In this year’s spending bill however, the mantra would have been “it’s not enough to succeed, others must fail.” Here are the winners and losers of the 2014 spending bill.
Amtrak: You’re probably asking yourself, “that’s still a thing?” Yup, it’s still a thing. With the federal government giving it $1.39 billion and Amtrak hitting an all-time record of passengers last year, things are finally looking up for Amtrak. C’mon n’ ride it!
Political Donors: The new spending bill drastically changed the current donor limits. And by drastically I mean they can now donate 10 times (!!!!) more than the current limit. So say if you donated $20,000 to a campaign last year, you can now donate $200,000 in the next election cycle. Hold on, do you hear that? BAH GAWD KING, THAT’S THE MILLION DOLLAR MAN’S MUSIC!!!
Egypt: This African country gets some much needed relief. After much political unrest, the US is giving over $1.4 billion in military and economic aid. This of course is on the condition that it upholds “democracy and human rights conditions.” With recent allegations from organizations like the Humans Rights Watch saying Egypt is trampling on basic human rights, that condition may be more necessary than people think.
The Federal Worker: This year, thanks to President Obama, all federal workers are to get a 1% pay raise. Yay…?
Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The FDA gets an additional $37 million in this year’s budget (total $2.589 billion) to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act. I think we can all get behind the idea of cleaner food.
The Iron Dome on the US Capitol: Another $21 million is spent on the continuing restoration of the Capitol’s iron dome. Rest easy everyone, they got this covered!
Government Whistleblowers: The spending bill includes a provision to protect whistleblowers if they were to report on waste, fraud, or abuse. Unless any of that deals with “national security.” Then you’re on your own.
Veterans: You know that parent in elementary school that always missed import stuff in their kid’s life because they were working or something? And then they would try to buy them off (new game system, action figures, ect), only to cover up the actual problem of them not being there in the first place. Well that’s basically what just happened to the veteran services in this spending bill. Veterans have been neglected in this country for years now. While this bill does throw significant money at the problem (almost $160 billion), it doesn’t address the direct problem that is happening to veterans in this country (ie VA hospital wait lists, alarming number of homeless veterans, treating of post-war mental issues, ect). But they got mad cash this year, so I guess you could put them in the winner column?
Advocates Against Sexual Assault (in the Military): Not only is it finally getting addressed in the defense bill this year, but they get over $250 million for counsel and prevention programs. Looks like things are finally turning around on this issue.
Health Research: The National Institutes of Health received an impressive amount of funding last week in a $150 million increase in the budget – total coming to $30.3 billion – specifically for attacking Alzheimer’s.
Military Operations: We talked about this in our defense bill rundown. Overall, Congress is backing President Obama’s military actions on ISIS.
Israel: They get $3.1 billion in total aid plus another $619.8 million in defense aid. This idea that people think the Obama Administration isn’t behind Israel is absolutely ridiculous.
People Who Like Saturday Mail: The spending bill has a provision that would continue the US Postal Service’s Saturday deliveries. Can’t say that will be the case in say like 3-4 years from now. But hey, Saturday mail delivery. Still a thing
Afghanistan: The US has stopped payments until Afghanistan can get its shit together (ie corruption, mismanagement, corruption, completion of civic projects, corruption, ect but mostly corruption). If you haven’t figured it out, Afghanistan has a problem with corruption.
The Clean Water Act: The new spending bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches. Many Republicans have stated that this move would greatly help farmers.
Dobb-Frank: We wrote about how a provision in the spending bill would undue a huge part of Dobb-Frank regulation last week. Well guess what? It’s in the spending bill. So three cheers for fiscal irresponsibility!
Ebola: While still less than President Obama had originally asked for, Congress has allocated $5.4 billion across several agencies to fight the disease. I think we are all in agreement that Ebola in the loss column is a good thing.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): The agency gets its funding slashed by $60 million this year ($8.1 billion), which would reduce its staff significantly. Levels not seen since 1989! Ouch!
The UN Building in New York: We’ll flip the bill for the Capitol’s dome, but you got a lot of nerve asking us to donate money on the UN Building in New York!!!
Wolves: While we’re at it, fuck wolves man! What have they ever done for us? NOTHING, that’s what! (A new $1 million dollar provision if your livestock is attacked by wolves.)
First Lady Michelle Obama’s School Lunch Programs: Fat kids rejoice! Language in the spending bill gives local lunch programs leeway not to follow healthy eating standards if necessary (like buying whole grain products or regulating sodium content in food items). Pizza lunches ALL. WEEK. LONG!
Education: President Obama’s education initiative, Race to the Top, takes a huge cut along with the Education Department overall with a $133 million less than last year. You’re wrong Whitney Houston, children were never the future!!!
Pensions: Benefits to current retirees will be cut in hopes of saving other distressed savings plans. It’s the first time, in a LONG time, this has happened. It will affect millions of retirees. Politicians should remember, even though the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) does represent the elderly, come election time they never forget.
The War on Drugs: While $7 million to fight the distribution of heroin does sound like a lot, if you consider that the government is spending three times the amount on the capitol building’s dome than fighting the distribution of a drug that when a quarter of the people that use it become addicted, you can’t help but feel that the program is being a little neglected.
Joe Biden: Old Joe gets a pay freeze once again. Looks like those sweet rims for his Trans Am will have to wait.
People Who Want to Get High in DC: The spending bill prohibits the legalization of marijuana for the DC area, regardless of it being legalized via ballot in the last election. Even though the bill would also block the Justice Department to interfere with state-level enforcement – making that tricky it’s illegal federally but ok on a state-level incidents null – marijuana and civil liberties advocates aren’t too happy.
Palestinian Authority: Financial assistance to Palestine stops if they continue to push to become a permanent member in the UN. Yup, this will ALWAYS be an issue.
The Democrats: It’s hard to look at this spending bill and not see Republican fingerprints all over it. People like Sen. Elizabeth Warren have spoken out against the spending bill, but let’s be honest. Both the Democrats and the Republicans knew that the Democrats would never let another government shutdown happen. You can’t negotiate if you have no leverage and in this case, the Democrats had zero leverage.
(Photo Credits: Google Images)