Finally, the federal moratorium on internet taxes is extended for one year. In 1998, Congress passed a law making it illegal for federal, state, or local governments to impose taxes on internet access, such as bandwidth or email taxes. Analysis from the American Action Forum estimated that if the moratorium lapsed, American taxpayers would pay $15 billion a year in new taxes. While extending the moratorium another year is good news, the incoming Congress should make it permanent.
Last December, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R‐Wis.) and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray (D‐Wash.) agreed to a deal that set fiscal year 2015 spending levels at $1.1 trillion. The Cromnibus honors those spending levels. It’s rare that Congress actually honors its promises, but there is good reason to curb your enthusiasm. The Ryan‐Murray deal increased spending for this year by $18 billion from a prior deal made in 2011 by Congress and the president. It’s encouraging that Congress honors its commitment from last year, but given our dire fiscal straits, they should have been able to maintain spending levels agreed to just three years ago.
The budget deal also provides $64 billion in funding for overseas military operations, including $5 billion for the fight against ISIS and additional funding to fight the spread of Ebola. The $64 billion is in addition to the $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending, raising the true cost of government for taxpayers. Instead of using the overseas contingency operations kitty as a slush fund to increase spending without guilt, Congress should offset emergency spending requests by cutting spending elsewhere in the budget.
The District of Columbia voted overwhelmingly in November to legalize marijuana. Voters in the District supported the proposal 2 to 1. But the new Cromnibus effectively blocks the legalization process in defiance of the popular vote. To overturn the voters’ decision in this way is shameful.
The budget deal does not cut overall federal spending nor does it reform our entitlement programs. Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 85 percent of budget growth over the next ten years will be from Social Security, the major health care programs, and interest on the national debt. This deal does nothing to address those gargantuan fiscal problems.
Congress’ Cromnibus spends too much money, including its $1.1 trillion in discretionary spending and $64 billion in funding for military operations. But it’s not all bad. If nothing else, it sets the stage for the incoming Congress to focus on much‐needed spending reforms.