The Swamp Wins

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard,” said Baltimore’s own H.L. Mencken.

The American people are about to get it — good and hard…

The president signed a budget-busting $1.3 trillion “omnibus” spending bill Friday — the second largest ever of its kind.

American democracy will glory in even more spending… even more boondoggles… even more cronyism… even more debt.

As with P.T. Barnum’s circus, there is something for everyone…

The bill authorizes a 10% “defense” increase — $80 billion more than previously authorized spending levels…

And an extra $63 billion for domestic spending of every cut and flavor.

There’s the infrastructure, of course.

But also funding to battle the opioid epidemic currently ravaging the land.

21st Century Community Learning Centers nationwide will dip their hands deeper into the national collection plate.

We are not certain how these differ from 20th-century learning centers— but let it pass.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood also extends its claim upon the American taxpayer.

The National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities will enjoy a $3 million boost.

We could continue… but mercy forbids it.

The bill’s additional $143 billion piles atop the existing federal deficit that already stretches to the sky.

Democrats declared immediate victory.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer exulted the bill’s “job-creating, lifesaving investments.”

Not only does the bill protect Obama’s spending priorities, says Politico, it “expands them.”

Conservative National Review declared it “the sort of legislation that would have been right at home in the Obama administration.”

Just so.

But the swamp got in a good belly laugh at Mr. Trump’s expense.

The bill denies Trump funding for “the wall.”

The $1.6 billion the bill allocates was already agreed to and is mostly to patch existing fencing.

“I will never sign another bill like this again,” thundered the president.

Why did he sign it at all?

We can reduce the answer to two words:

The swamp.

Written in complete secrecy, Congress heaved up the 2,232-page methane cloud just 52 hours before Friday’s government “shutdown” deadline.

No one had time to read it.

Had Trump failed in his signatory duty, parts of the United States government would have gone dark.

And Trump would not have gotten his beloved defense spending.

If you think the timing is coincidence… we suggest you climb back aboard the turnip truck from which you tumbled.


The bill was crafted behind closed doors by congressional leaders — most back-benchers had less than a day to read its 2,232 pages — so it’s hard to say how much of it reflects genuine Republican enthusiasm for big government and how much reflects a political decision to cave to Democrats to avoid a shutdown on Trump’s watch.

And so we find American democracy cloaked in its overcoat of glory.

Surely Jefferson smiles down from his celestial Monticello.

Ah, but we had our agents give the bill a thorough ransacking over the weekend.

And their researchers turned up a wild card… a joker in the deck Trump could use to shock his opponents…

In December, Trump declared a human rights emergency that broadly empowers the federal government to crack down on, say, human trafficking or drug smuggling.

And on Friday, Trump notified Congress that he’s invoking the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

These two facts, says John Salisbury — a a fellow who spent 30 years in government — “opens up new options.”

Congress allocates money to be spent, yes. But the president spends the allocated money, he reminds us.

Congress can’t say how the money is spent — as long as the spending is legal.

Salisbury on the implications:

By making these two declarations, President Trump has just communicated that he has the authority to NOT spend any funds he doesn’t deem necessary and will return them to the U.S. Treasury. So funds for Planned Parenthood? He can simply not allocate the funds…

If he determines that building a wall on the southern border is a defense against human trafficking? He can move funds from anywhere else in the Defense Department allocation and simply build the wall.

Congress is powerless to stop cash reallocations on an omnibus bill AND cannot stop the Defense Department from taking measures under a declared emergency. Despite their language in the omnibus bill about the border wall, it is trumped by the state of emergency that Trump declared.

Salisbury concludes:

I’ve worked for government for 30 years and I’ve never seen ANYONE making the moves he’s making right now.

Is Trump preparing to strike back against the swamp?

Stay tuned…


Brian Maher
Managing editor, The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning