The House managed to approve a purportedly "bipartisan" budget deal early this morning after a marathon all-night session that was brought on by Sen. Rand Paul's self-indulgent insistence that he needed to "make a point" about excessive government spending...less than two months after he voted to blow out the deficit with the Trump tax plan...
But now that the massive 600+ page bill has been passed, what, exactly, is in it?
For starters, it includes increases in both defense and non-defense spending...
...which will raise the annual deficit to $1.2 trillion, leading to even higher 10Y yields at least until the next recession hits...
Some highlights from the deal include:
Raises Spending Levels
The deal would increase government spending by nearly $300 billion over two years. It would increase discretionary defense spending by $165 billion over the spending caps that have been in place since the 2011 Obama-era budget ceiling battle left us with sequestration.
The $131 billion hike in non-defense spending would include $20 billion for infrastructure spending and $6 billion to combat opioid abuse and other mental health crises that President Donald Trump has promised to deliver, but has until now been reluctant to do anything aside from label the abuse epidemic a national health emergency.
In one of the deal's key components for markets, an extension of the government's debt ceiling to March 2019 is one of the most pressing issues - even perhaps more pressing than the shutdown because of its potential to impact the US's credit rating (remember when the US was downgraded AA+ and how markets reacted?). The Treasury Department has warned that without an extension in borrowing authority by Congress, the government would run out of its "emergency measures" early next month."
Temporary Funding Measure
Since they've agreed to toss the caps, lawmakers' and their staff need to set to work on actually drafting a two-year budget.
That could take weeks, so the bill also includes a temporary extension of funding to March 23. After that, Congress will need to approve an appropriations bill to pass a two-year budget.
A disaster aid package of $90 billion for areas affected by Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria, as well as the California wildfires, will also be included.
Immigration legislation was famously not included in the deal expressly because of its divisiveness. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will begin debating immigration legislation next week. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi delivered a marathon, eight-hour speech earlier this week about young “Dreamer” immigrants in an attempt to extract the same promise from Ryan, who has refused to explicitly commit to a vote without the president's OK.
Those are the obvious provisions. But, as is typical of Washington, where lawmakers are often judged by their ability to deliver lucrative projects and other federal-government goodies to their state, the bill contains many surprising provisions, including tax incentives that were scrapped as part of the tax overhaul, as the New York Times points out.
It also includes a series of unexpected spending increases, including restoring some provisions that were jettisoned from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax package. And the bill includes an extension of 48 different tax credits that expired at the end of 2016, including several incentives meant to help particular sectors like mining and horse racing.
Here are some of the provisions:
Medicare Cost Watchdog Removed
The bill would kill the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was devised to help keep Medicare spending growth from rising above a set level. No one has ever been appointed to the board, and Medicare spending has experienced unusually slow growth in recent years. But the board was long denounced by Republicans as a rationing board, and disliked by some Democrats for taking payment policy authority away from Congress.
Funding Changes for Public Health Programs
The spending plan would cut $1.35 billion in funding to an Affordable Care Act program meant to improve public health and prevention funding for states and municipalities
Another CHIP Extension
The bill would extend funding for the popular children's health-care program for four years.
Continued Fund For Abstinence Education
Rubbers are baaaaad m'kay?
A Break for Berea College
The spending bill restores a provision that was stripped out of the tax bill after becoming the center of controversy. The bill would exempt Berea College, a small private college in Kentucky that provides free tuition, from being subject to a new tax.
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Of course, all of this won't mean anything if Congress can't push through the appropriations bill that - we hope - lawmakers are furiously setting to work upon as we write...