Do Republicans think record federal spending is what voters elected them to enact?

Do Republicans think record federal spending is what voters elected them to enact?
© Greg Nash

Republicans are crafting an omnibus spending bill that, if reports are true, will be worse than any spending bill passed under President Obama.

The roughly $1.3 trillion package currently being considered comes on the heels of a deal cut last month that increased overall spending by $300 billion, shredded the Budget Control Act, and thoroughly dispirited voters hopeful that a Republican majority would restore fiscal sanity.

After torching their fiscal legacy, this Republican majority now seems intent on destroying any remaining credibility with conservatives by drafting a bill that fully funds Planned Parenthood, extends protections for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, targets law-abiding gun owners instead of criminals, allows the Ex-Im Bank to start making loans again, imposes an internet sales tax, and bails out ObamaCare.

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s an affront to principle, campaign promises and their own party platform. But more than that, it’s a shocking testament to how far this Republican majority has strayed from its roots.

 

Even under President Obama and a Democrat Senate majority, Republicans were cutting better deals. It was under Obama that Republicans negotiated the Budget Control Act (BCA), the biggest conservative spending victory in decades. By imposing spending caps and across the board spending cuts, the BCA took the deficit from nearly 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) to just 3 percent — the most sizable cut in deficit spending since the end of World War II. Likewise, federal spending fell for three years in a row, the first consecutive stretch of declining outlays since President Eisenhower’s first term in office.

It didn’t take Democrats to undo these gains. Last month, a Republican majority wiped them out without so much as a second thought.

And now they are prepared to do the same to conservative policy priorities. 

After promising to repeal ObamaCare for nearly a decade, Republicans are planning to bail it out using a budget gimmick that will further entrench the law that many Republicans were elected to undo.

Conservatives fought President Obama tooth and nail to dismantle the Export-Import Bank, and have been largely successful in keeping the bank’s corporate welfare inactive. But now, reports indicate that Republicans are attempting to undo that achievement as well.

Likewise, Republicans who opposed amnesty for years under President Obama are now going to pass a bill that extends Obama’s executive amnesty for DACA recipients, in exchange for border wall funding that, in all likelihood, will mean very little.

While conservatives push to protect the Second Amendment and focus on actually solving the underlying issues that allow for gun violence, Republicans in Congress seem intent to simply throw money at the problem, or “fix” background checks by setting up potential privacy and due process issues for lawful gun owners.

And if all that wasn’t enough, a Republican majority that, for decades, has made ending federal funding for abortion a centerpiece of their agenda, is still allowing Planned Parenthood to be fully funded. (Though House Republicans are making a laudable effort to bar it.) Even President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE has managed to do more on this issue than House and Senate Republicans.

This is not where conservatives wanted to find themselves a little over a year into Republican control of the Congress and the White House. Despite having majority control of the government, Republican leadership is still bending over backwards for Democrats, and advancing liberal priorities. Procedural obstruction goes unpunished in the Senate. Most major legislation is written to attract votes from liberals, while conservatives are publicly shamed for attempting to have their priorities heard.

A party that stands for nothing is on the fast track to political and policy irrelevance. With the 2018 midterms approaching, Republicans may be about to learn that the hard way. Power is no substitute for principle, and voters tend to know the difference.

Rachel Bovard (@RachelBovard) is the senior director of policy for The Conservative Partnership, a nonprofit group headed by former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint aimed at promoting limited government.