The Cromnibus, the $1.1 trillion behemoth that will soon become the law of the land, funding the bloated Federal government easily through to next Columbus Day, is, according to its authors, the very definition of svelte, completely devoid of extraneous spending, and an unprecedented example of fiscal restraint on the part of lawmakers…at last according to lawmakers. But check out a few key elements of the bill that weren’t scrapped, even if they were of dubious necessity.
1. Amtrak, which is so substandard people actually prefer traveling Spirit airlines to boarding a passenger coach for forays cross-country, will receive an additional $1.39 billion that it will do nothing with, just as it did last year. Amtrak had feared that the budget would be cut in favor of high speed rail, but the only high speed rail on the table is a bullet train in the desert that takes people from Los Angeles to thirty miles outside Las Vegas, where they can board a bus.
2. The nation’s “disease-fighters” who were just named Time’s person of the year, will get $30 million to help fight Ebola, which no longer exists in America. Overall, Federal agencies will receive $5.4 billion in new money to prepare themselves for the inevitable onslaught of Ebola victims from earlier this year, which is not quite the $6 billion the Obama Administration requested.
3. Every Federal worker will receive a 1% pay raise next year, because if there’s anyone who deserves a pay raise, it’s the people who process your passport at the speed of banana slugs.
4. The potato lobby, which has been fighting an uphill battle for carbohydrate supremacy, will finally get its moment in the sun, as the Women, Infants and Children food assistance program is expanded to include an allowance for potato purchases.
5. In a bipartisan effort, Congress has prohibited DC from legalizing marijuana despite voter approval, and the vast needs of anyone who has to deal with both traffic and Congress.
There are a few things that are positive about the Cromnibus, and you may be delighted to know that, thanks to compromise efforts on behalf of both parties, there’s enough in the bill to anger just about anyone. Things Democrats might not love:
1. The bill greatly expands the amount of money individual donors can now give to political candidates. So instead of just being able to support their mistresses and Capitol Hill duplexes, individual donors can now donate enough to pay for suits, vacations, and the inevitable team of defense attorneys.
2. The EPA will not be allowed to apply the parameters of the clean water act to ditches. Because, yes, that was actually a consideration.
3. The GOP slashed the budget of the IRS by over $300 million, thanks to the IRS’s dogged efforts to fully investigate Republican donors and special interest organizations. Your audit will now take longer, but won’t be heavily influenced by your voting record. Maybe.
4. Joe Biden doesn’t get a raise.
And lastly, 5., any politician who is looking to commission an official portrait of himself or herself will now have to pay for the exercise in vanity out of his or her own pocket. Thank heavens for that increase in campaign finance limits.