The Democrats had lost control of the House of Representatives as a result of the November 8 elections, and so Christmas preparations were especially troublesome for them. They had to pass the national budget for 2023 as soon as possible and make provision for all the necessary expenses for the White House. It would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do in January, when the Republican majority would have taken their seats in Congress. In the end, major concessions would have had to be made to Republicans, which was not in Joe Biden’s plans. The new federal budget was presented to Congress on December 20. According to the document, $1.7 trillion was to be at the disposal of the national government from January to September.
Of course, what made this budget project interesting was neither support for endangered groups nor subsidies to stabilize an economy on the brink of recession. The main know-how was the allocation of huge funds to counter the so-called “external threats.” Thus, the new budget included a ban on the use of Chinese TikTok for all U.S. government employees. So far, the restrictions are not too strict, but next year many both Democratic and Republican congressmen want to block this application for all Americans. However, while the hard fight against China is more a matter of the next few years and the object of a certain Democratic-Republican compromise, the issue of funding for Ukraine was not unanimous and therefore at the top of the agenda.
The new budget allocated $45 billion to help Ukraine. This was the largest tranche allocated since the Russian invasion began. The first was $12 billion in March, the second was $40 billion in May, and the third was another $12 billion in September. Including the current tranche, U.S. spending on Ukraine would exceed $100 billion, which would not be out of place domestically. These $45 billion will obviously include arms and military equipment, as well as grants and loans to the Ukrainian budget, which, as we know, often do not reach Ukraine, and are distributed in the more familiar area of D.C. and neighboring states to every American. Many Republicans have advocated cutting funding for Ukraine and stopping the flow into the pockets of the Democratic GOP lobbyists, but, being in the minority, they have had rather little influence in negotiating budgets. This means that Democrats can rest easy until September 2023, when the distribution of this money will end. Their well-being will not be affected by the resistance of the Republican opposition, nor by public opinion, or even by the situation in the Russia-Ukraine war. Especially since the Democrats have imposed a moratorium on adjusting these expenditures.
It goes without saying that questionable budget decisions had to be accompanied by an appropriate theatrical performance, so before the budget was approved, one of its beneficiaries and a great friend of the Democratic Party, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, was summoned to Washington. The liberal media is actively trying to create a “man of the year” out of him. His appearance was positioned as analogous to the arrival of famous people from the USSR during World War II to speed up the lend-lease or hasten the American public to open a front against Hitler in France. Such pathos should reduce questions to questionably rational budgetary spending. Zelensky’s address to Congress was his second in 2022. He first did so just after the war began in March 2022, and it was nothing more than a performance because not one of his own wishes was ever fulfilled. The decisions on what kind of aid to provide and what weapons to supply was decided by president of the United States Joe Biden, who kept his advice only with his entourage and representatives of the military-industrial complex.
The purpose of Zelensky’s current visit to Washington was similar, and boils down to promotional purposes, in which he plays only the familiar role of an actor. However, there are new circumstances. Firstly, the appetite of the military-industrial complex and the people who want to direct the allocation of funds has seriously increased. The Republican threat in the new Congress also encouraged them to overfund. Secondly, the public opinion in the United States has changed dramatically over the year. Currently, the percentage of Americans who think the U.S. should defend Ukraine has dropped to 40%, with only 31% among Republicans. Most Americans want a peace that speeds up the resolution of domestic economic problems. They are aliened to abstract arguments about fighting for the “preservation of democracy throughout the world” and the desire to “fight for Ukraine at any cost.” At the same time, most Republican voters are in favor of more isolationism and less military aid to Ukraine. Republican politicians in Congress cannot help but ignore their views and are therefore cool to further fund Ukraine. That is why Zelensky had to make a double effort to help his patrons in Washington.
However, the haste in adopting the budget led to problems. To avoid unnecessary discussion, the details of the draft budget were kept from ordinary lawmakers in Congress until the last moment. They were given only a couple of days to review the document before the vote, which took place on December 23. And yet some strange items of expenditure, in addition to the now familiar Ukraine, managed to shock many reasonable congressmen. It turned out that embezzlement of funds for dubious international projects has become a real industry. For example, the budget allocates $410 million for border security of such countries as Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Oman, but not for the United States. And this at a time when the migration crisis is raging at U.S. borders and the number of illegals crossing the border has exceeded 5 million in the two years of the Biden presidency. Apparently, Biden sees illegals as his future constituents and is not particularly eager to discourage them, as Tunisia and other countries are more important. Just stealing the budget for “taking care of Arab countries” turned out to be even harmless. Another $212 million will be spent to prosecute the protesters at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Many of them are still in solitary confinement in very harsh conditions, and some have even been tortured and beaten.
And yet, the main controversy revolved around the financing of Ukraine, if only because $400 or $200 million is not comparable to $45 billion. The president of Ukraine, however, called these funds “insufficient,” although from the point of view of the allocating party they were an excessive impudence to the American taxpayers. The very arrival of Vladimir Zelensky and his speech to Congress has caused mixed reactions, and some Republicans even boycotted this demonstrative event. His tone with constant complaining and positioning himself as a “holy hero” did not help his cause. Many Republican congressmen compared him to a beggar who doesn’t want to work and lives on a budgetary allowance. Of course, they demanded an audit of previous spending before allocating the next ones. He did not do a very good job of comparing Ukraine’s border, where there is fighting, with the U.S. border, which “needs to be protected,” against the backdrop of the real migration crisis. After all, Biden’s Democratic administration is so concerned about events in Ukraine, but deeply indifferent to events on the country’s border with Mexico, including the financial issue. Some Republicans have also pointed out that more than 100,000 Americans have died from the opioid crisis and drug overdoses in a year, which is comparable to the Ukrainian losses. However, here, too, the Biden administration does nothing, even though the lives of Americans themselves are at stake. In the end, Zelensky’s contribution to the confident passage of the dubious draft budget was just as inarticulate.
Anyway, the clear advantage was on the side of the Democrats, and Congress managed to pass the new 2023 budget on Christmas Eve, avoiding a technical government shutdown. Nevertheless, it is significant that in the House of Representatives only Democrats supported the budget, and the Republicans were very unhappy that they could not drag out the process of negotiating the budget until January, when they would have had a majority and a chance to present their conditions. And so, they basically boycotted its adoption. Even one Democratic congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an insane leftist, opposed the budget. Quite in the spirit of her radical convictions, she did not like the dramatic increase in U.S. military spending to $860 billion this year. Nevertheless, the rest of the left-wing Democrats chose discipline over ideology and voted for the budget.
Unable to change anything, Republicans have retaliated by mocking the paradoxes included in this budget. For example, as part of the “progressive” frenzy, it allocates millions of dollars to study racial contradictions in mice, hamsters’ response to steroids, and the social life of ants. All these areas of spending are included in the budget by all sorts of small lobbyists, while a behind-the-scenes coordination is going on. In order to eliminate this strange practice, Republicans are promising to change the way this year’s budget is passed, making it more open, allowing lawmakers to at least see the budget before it is approved. They will also try to redirect some of the spending to Ukraine in the future, which could provide each state with an extra billion in revenue. Many Republicans saw the budget adoption as a farce and half of them, including the future House of Representatives majority leader Kevin McCarthy, did not attend Zelensky speech appearance. However, these Republicans have a clear conscience that this was the last embarrassment, and in 2023 they can try to strip the corrupt funding from Ants, the border guards in Tunisia, and Volodymyr Zelensky, if their constituents want it.