GOP Breaks Fiscal Promises – Again
Republicans won the White House and majorities in Congress on a platform of smaller government and reduced spending. But electing Republican majorities hasn’t given America fiscally-conservative governance.
The $1.3 trillion Omnibus Bill, an overall 12.9 percent spending increase, recently passed by a Republican Congress and signed by the president is so irresponsible that Democratic congressional leaders are gloating. Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi don’t have to win elections to govern, because Congressional Republicans, or enough of them, share Democrats’ spending addiction.
“Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties,” tweeted Republican Sen. Rand Paul, “No one has read [the Omnibus]. Congress is broken.”
Transmitted electronically to members’ offices, the 2,232-page document took hours to print.
Failing to deliver on any significant GOP priority other than defense spending, the bill was written in secret by leaders of both parties, but it might easily have been crafted solely by Obama-era Democrats. Sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood? Funded. Immigration policy? Gutted. Interestingly, Democrats prioritized funding for America’s largest abortionist over Dreamers, despite presidential support for resolving Dreamers’ status, or, perhaps, perversely, because of it.
Blowing off the 72-hour rule Republicans proposed following passage of Obamacare, the Omnibus was unveiled and passed in less than 24 hours. Lawmakers were forced to vote up-or-down on a bill they didn’t write, read or debate. Sen. Paul is correct, the budgetary process – or its facsimile — one of the few constitutional duties Congress still discharges somewhat regularly, is broken.
Ninety House Republicans, mostly from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, voted against the bill, as did two dozen Senate Republicans. Local members voted in favor. Democrats made up the majorities. Next year, America’s $21 trillion national debt will exceed $22 trillion.
Reason magazine’s Matt Welch wrote: “[T]here are no significant Republican or Democratic voting blocs on Capitol Hill in favor of reducing deficits, restraining government growth, tackling entitlements, protecting privacy, defending free speech, practicing transparency…, conducting legislative-branch oversight, [or] passing…budgets… These are among the most important issues facing the country, and the two major parties are currently awful on all of them.”
That said, the parties aren’t identical. There are still significant differences between most Republicans and Democrats on abortion, immigration, First and Second Amendment rights, among other issues, but when trillion-dollar deficits and increasingly-imminent trillion-dollar debt-service bills cannot generate general outrage among voters in either party, we must begin worrying about when the wheels will come off. America’s debt is unsustainable.
A rejuvenated economy, energy expansion and regulatory and tax reform will increase federal tax revenues. But Republican budget concessions are certain to drain the fisc at a rate far greater than anticipated increases in federal revenues.
From a budgetary standpoint, what’s the value of expanding the economy at the price of ever-larger, costlier and more-intrusive government? There simply aren’t enough genuinely fiscally-conservative elected Republicans — yet.
It’s still worth keeping a Republican House majority while fiscal conservatives gradually unseat profligate incumbents, not because most deserve saving, but because the Democratic alternative is even worse.