Congress has passed a budget for 2015. Well, they sort of passed a budget for 2015. In their “cromnibus” they have budgeted the full year for every department except the Department of Homeland Security. They funded that department only until February 27.
Additionally, this budget had a rider that gives banks the right to get back into the “swaps” business. That means that the big banks can go back to risky trading that caused the 2008 economic meltdown. After that meltdown, the Dodd-Franks bill was passed by Congress. One of the provisions of that bill meant that if banks wanted to engage in “risky” trading, they could not use money insured by the FDIC. They had to go outside of the normal bank channels.
Most of the banks continued with this trading, but had to set up different companies to do so. That meant that the FDIC was not on the hook if things went south again. But, Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas introduced the rider in the middle of the night before the House voted on the budget. The unfortunate part of this rider is that it was written by none other than Citigroup! That’s right, the banks wrote the bill that allows the banks to re-engage in risky trading on the taxpayer’s dime.
Remember in 2010 there was a splinter group in the Republican Party that was railing against the bank bailouts? That group called themselves the TEA Party. TEA stood for “Taxed Enough Already”. The addition of this rider in the budget was a great time for these ultra-conservatives to hook up in a bi-partisan way with liberal Democrats who were against this rider as well. They could have forced the rider out of the bill.
That didn’t happen. The TEA Party raised no voice against this rider even though it opens the door to another economic meltdown that would force the taxpayers to bail out the banks again! No, their only concern was “defunding” the President’s Executive Order on Immigration Reform. They didn’t care about the banks writing a bill that only benefits them at the potential risk of the American Taxpayers.
As a result, they went along with the budget bill and it passed both houses. However, the Department of Homeland Security is still hanging out there without full funding for 2015. We will have another fight in February over their budget when the Republicans have control of both houses.
Let’s take a look at that as well. The Republicans are screaming that the Executive Order is “amnesty” for illegal immigrants. It isn’t amnesty at all. It is a three-year hiatus on deporting illegal immigrants who have family members in the U.S. Yes, they will be able to apply for legal status, but there are a series of things like paying back taxes and going through a criminal background check first. Additionally, all of this is funded through fees, not the annual budgets of any agency in the Department of Homeland Security.
The Department of Homeland Security is made up of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Patrol, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Agency, United States Coast Guard, Secret Service, and others. If you take a close look at these departments, they all have something to do with keeping illegal immigrants and/or drugs out of the country.
These are the very agencies that help protect us from not only illegal immigrants, but terrorism as well. If this department is not funded, then the Border Patrol won’t be conducting patrols on our borders. The Coast Guard won’t be as efficient in protecting our harbors from terrorists. ICE won’t be able to deport illegal immigrants. And the beat goes on for other agencies as well.
These are all things the Republicans, and especially the TEA Party, are screaming should be increased. Yet, they are willing to defund these agencies to “defund” an executive order which does not rely on the budget to pay for its activities. You and I both know that is insane. But, the Republicans and the TEA Party are anything but sane.
So, we have a sort of budget for the Federal Government through 2015. But because of the politics being played by the Republicans, we face another economic meltdown because the banks can use taxpayer insured money to go back to playing casino in the markets, and we have a real potential for terrorists and mass illegal immigration because the one department of our government on the front line of these battles isn’t funded through the whole year.
The Republicans added these riders to the bill because they knew that the Democrats and the President did not want to have a government shutdown right before the holidays. They knew they were playing hostage again, and this time they won. I am sure that if we waited until after Republicans took control of both houses next month, the bill would have been much worse than it is. That is what they were counting on.
What the Republicans are really doing with this “cromnibus” is playing Russian Roulette with our economy and our security. It is not the first time they played this game with the economy. The deregulation of the banking industry was a direct result of the last economic meltdown. This is the first time I can remember them playing this game with our security. Seems the Republicans do not support our security as much as they claim.
Should another economic meltdown occur, or another terrorist attack take place on our soil, the Republicans will be directly responsible because they are totally irresponsible with these two riders they placed in the “cromnibus” just passed. Just another example of Republicans proving they support their big dollar donors and not the American People.