Cromnibus winners and losers
If you want to know how your tax dollars will get spent next year, the answers are in Cromnibus — the 1,695-page bill that Congress hurriedly passed last weekend to fund the federal government through September 2015.
Republicans won big with Cromnibus, along with farmers, political parties, incandescent bulb users, Blue Cross insurers, kids who like salt, cops who hate body cameras, African profiteers salivating over Ebolacare aid, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Losers include the Obamas, the U.N., the IRS, insurance companies, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Green Climate Fund, and Hillary Clinton.
Cromnibus is a monster to read. Almost no one did. They had no time. House Speaker John Boehner broke his promise to give members at least a 72-hour notice before voting, instead of “ramming it down their throats,” as he criticized former Speaker Nancy Pelosi for doing.
Taxpayers lost out in the rush. It’s likely that the $1.1 trillion spending level negotiated last week is costlier than what the more conservative Congress, taking charge in January, would have agreed to. That’s when Republicans will control the Senate and have the largest majority in the House in 40 years.
Letting spendaholic Democrats who have, in effect, been fired by voters, make budget decisions through next September is like letting your ex-spouse keep using your checkbook. Even so, Republicans came out on top. President Obama admitted, “There are a bunch of provisions in this bill that I really do not like.”
Obama isn’t the only loser. Here’s how it shakes out:
Politicians and party operatives: Cromnibus hikes the limits on what can be donated to parties and their committees, which will mean more money for balloons, limos, cocktail parties and hotels.
Big banks: Cromnibus repealed a Dodd-Frank provision that required bank holding companies to keep 5 percent of risky “derivative” investments out of FDIC-insured operations. Warren claimed the change will “let Wall Street gamble with taxpayer money and get bailed out,” but that’s more political posturing than truth.
Farmers: The Clean Water Act will not apply to farm ponds and irrigation trenches, and the EPA won’t be able to count dairy cow and cattle farts and belching as greenhouse gases. The White House wanted to cut dairy industry emissions 25 percent by 2020.
Cops: No funding for body cameras for police. Cops and cows won.
African black marketers and politicians: A whopping $5.5 billion for Obama’s Ebolacare programs, with nearly 90 percent of the money going to Africa. No safeguards to prevent its corrupt misuse. It’s more money than the U.S. spends on research for cancer, double the aid to Israel, and five times what the World Health Organization said is needed.
Techies: Federal moratorium on state and local Internet taxes extended another year.
Incandescent bulb users: Demand for the cheaper bulbs remains high, and Cromnibus delays new energy-efficiency standards first devised under George W. Bush.
Insurers: Cromnibus says no taxpayer money to bail out health insurers for losses. Obamacare originally compelled insurers to pay fees into a fund that would then be distributed to offset losses they incurred on the exchanges. In 2013, the administration promised to sweeten the deal with taxpayer money if the fund fell short. Congress says no. Insurers lose, except the Blues, which got a special deal that will save them a bundle of money.
IRS: This agency got slapped with a $346 million budget cut and was told to stop targeting tax-exempt organizations based on their politics.
The Obamas: School lunch standards championed by Michelle Obama are relaxed after protests over the low-sodium and whole-grain rules. President Obama didn’t get the $3 billion he brazenly promised the U.N. for poor countries coping with climate change.
D.C. voters and tokers: They passed a referendum legalizing recreational use of marijuana in the district, but Congress says no.
Sage grouse: It won’t be put on the endangered species list, a gift to oil drillers.
Then there’s the political fallout. Warren emerges as the highly visible left-wing firebrand undermining the inevitability of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential nominee. A Warren nomination would make Republicans even bigger winners. They could run a refrigerator against her and win.
Betsy McCaughey Ph.D. is chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.