“Senate Republicans were unable to stop military pension cuts when Senate Democrats blocked a vote on an amendment to prevent the cuts by closing a welfare loophole for illegal immigrants Tuesday evening,” reports Caroline May of the Daily Caller. “The two-year budget deal brokered by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, would cut military pensions by $6 billion over ten years, leaving some Senate Republicans scrambling to stop the cuts.”
Senate Republicans proposed replacing the pension cuts with cuts to IRS payments to illegal aliens. Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker and Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions offered amendments to the budget deal
to restore the cuts by targeting a child tax credit loophole that illegal immigrants have used to unlawfully obtain welfare benefits. . .In 2011, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found that “individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States” and therefore did not have a valid Social Security number were still able to obtain billions in Additional Child Tax Credits by filing returns with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. . .Unauthorized individuals received $4.2 billion refundable credits” in 2010. . .
Sessions’ motion failed on a 46 – 54 party line vote, with North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan crossing the aisle as the lone Democrat to vote with the Republicans. “Reid’s majority just voted to keep pension cut for vets instead of cutting welfare payments to illegal aliens,” a Sessions aide emailed.
The budget deal itself became possible because House leaders assumed that if they didn’t agree to something like it, a significant minority of Republicans (like those wedded to pork-barrel spending and unnecessary weapons programs and military pork) would desert and vote with Democrats to largely cancel the sequester cuts.
But the deal itself rolls back so many of the useful cuts in the sequester (the sequester was largely a good thing, and will increase long-run economic growth, as a number of economists have noted), that it doesn’t even make the best of a bad situation, or reflect the best deal they could have negotiated with the Senate.
As Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute notes,
The deal raises spending $63 billion in 2014 and 2015, split between defense and nondefense programs. That is a lot of money even by Washington standards, and it effectively guts the Budget Control Act of 2011. At least it guts the authority of it; appropriators now know that if they whine and complain a bit, future-year spending caps will dissolve like butter under a hot knife. In return for the spending hike, the deal creates $85 billion of savings on paper. According to the SBC analysis, $34 billion of those savings are actually revenue increases and $51 billion are spending reductions. So there are more spending hikes in this package ($63 billion) than claimed spending cuts ($51 billion). So this agreement makes government bigger, not smaller, even by its own accounting. Here’s the most astounding thing: $47 billion of the $85 billion in claimed savings are scored to occur in 2022 and 2023. So the package hikes spending right now, but promises to deliver more than half of the offsetting savings a decade from now.
The Cato Institute has additional useful commentary in the articles whose introductions are shown below:
How could a deal composed of spending and revenue increases possibly be the right direction when the government is already far too large?
Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Replaces Real Spending Restraint of Sequester with Budget Gimmicks and Back-Door Tax Hikes
How disappointing, but how predictable.