The Swamp Wins Again

The United States House of Representatives has assented to a resolution that will keep the government in funds through Jan. 19.

More Democrats voted yay than Republicans voted yay — though the bill was Republican-proposed.

The Senate will approve it. The president will sign it.

And so Republicans will get their guns. Democrats will get their butter…

Both will get their pork…

And the American taxpayer will get the bill.

Thus a government “shutdown” — scheduled to commence this Saturday in the absence of a resolution — is skirted.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer jubilated in response to its passage:

The proposal before the House does two things Democrats have pushed for: It will avert a shutdown, and do so without making any terrible hard-right cuts that the MAGA right-wing demands.

Is it not the traditional purpose of Republicans to scissor spending — at least in theory?

Why then would 127 Republicans get in back of “things Democrats have pushed for”?

Just You Wait Till Next Time!

Freshly emplaced House Speaker Michael Johnson (R-Louisiana) explains his motivations:

I’ve been in the job less than three weeks. I can’t turn an aircraft carrier overnight, but this was a very important first step to get us to the next stage, so that we can change how Washington works.

Here is your translated version of the speaker’s mummeries:

On Jan. 19 we will locate the courage to impose spending cuts that we could not locate today. We won’t change how Washington works today — but tomorrow we will. Trust me.

Where this courage will be located… we do not know.

For decade upon decade they have searched for it. And for decade upon decade it has eluded them.

We bet high it will continue to elude them come Jan. 19.

It is a wager we will not lose.

We will munch every last word upon this page if mistaken — without salt to season them or liquid to help them down.

We will devour them raw.

Who Thinks They’ll Cut Spending in an Election Year?

And do not forget — next year is an election year.

As the great Mencken said of elections:

“Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

Next year’s elections will prove no exception.

Are Republicans willing to hack the budget in an election year… when so many stolen goods go upon the auction block?

And when their opponents will denounce them as human ice chunks lacking all compassion for the poor and underprivileged?

A nickel’s nick to the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts would be declared the slaughter of civilization.

These are the orders party bosses will issue prior to Jan. 19 — depend on it:

“This is not a fight we can afford right now. It’s an election year and we need to get elected. We’re not going to get elected by cutting spending. We can talk about spending cuts after the election. But not now.”

But then the 2026 midterm elections hover into view. The same general order will go issuing — and for the same precise reason.

An election is upcoming and we cannot spend less.

It’s Never Time to Cut Spending

That is, it is never the proper time to spend less. The next election forever looms… and it simply cannot be done.

We have heard it said that the Vietnam War was not a 13-year war but a one-year war fought 13 times.

And so it is with American elections. They are two-year campaigns waged over and over, world without end.

The parties cannot look beyond them. They are incapable of it.

Is this not the central reason why the nation wallows under $33.6 trillion — no, $33.7 trillion — of debt?

And why it now confronts annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion?

We are convinced that it is. And any man who proposes to change it is read a severe lesson in futility.

Banging Your Head Against a Wall

David Stockman directed the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan.

David learned that the smallest budget item is sealed deep within fortress walls. It is ringed by armed guards. And they are ready to repel any invader.

For example: David proposed to shutter the national endowments for the arts and humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

They weren’t proper functions of the federal government, David argued. And there was more than ample private philanthropy to make any shortages good.

David says the combined budgets of these programs amounted to a mere six hours of federal spending annually.

Six hours of spending — out of a 365-day calendar!

But closing out those six hours proved impossible.

David was poor Sisyphus pushing his rock eternally uphill… only to have it roll eternally downhill on him.

David says not even Reagan would cancel these draws upon the Treasury.

David ultimately submitted a modest 25% trimming to Capitol Hill.

Would Capitol Hill accept this 25% trim? It would not.

It ceded David “maybe an 8% reduction for a couple of years until the various K Street lobbies and assorted forces of high-toned culture completely restored the funding.”

That is, no elimination. Not even a 25% trim — but an 8% nick — and a temporary nick at that.

Here is a question:

If you can’t even put a sustained 8% nick in the national endowments for the arts and humanities or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting… how are you ever going to get true cuts anywhere else?

Here is the short answer: You cannot. Here is the long answer: You cannot.

Who’s to Blame?

Who do we hold responsible? Everyone — and no one.

The entire business is surrounded by an air of inevitability.

It is simply the life cycle of empire. And the United States is an empire… despite all denials to the contrary.

Its business model may differ from the Roman Empire or the Mongol Empire or the British Empire or whatever empire you wish.

It is an empire nonetheless.

And it gives every indication it has entered the terminal phase of empire — decline.

A George Washington in the year 2023 can no more restore American splendor than an Augustus Caesar could have restored Roman splendor in the year 400.

The rot has advanced too far. It has penetrated the foundations.

As well expect Joe Biden to bench press 900 lbs., run a two-minute mile, scale Mt. Everest and swim the Pacific.

He cannot do it. Nor can the American empire.

No One Follows a Loser

It is too old, too indebted, too calcified, too fractured.

It will not go upon the shelf tomorrow. It may peg along for several more years to one degree or other.

Yet we believe it has entered terminal phase.

The world has at last begun to reject its imperial currency.

And its grand imperial project — proxy war against Russia — fares poorly.

Even its boosters begin to cough sadly behind their hands.

A sad, sad spectacle it has become.

Rumors begin to swirl that Washington wants Kyiv to negotiate peace.

The empire will almost certainly lose its war. The world will see it.

And no one follows a loser…

The Daily Reckoning