Conservatives need a strategy for dealing with weak GOP 'leaders'

Conservatives need a strategy for dealing with weak GOP 'leaders'
© Greg Nash

As we enter the holiday season, Republicans are excited about the prospect of passing the first fundamental tax reform in a generation. As President Trump said this week, “We’re going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas. Hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present.” But even as Republicans in Congress prepare for a celebration on tax cuts, they should be watchful on the spending front, or they’re going to end up putting a big lump of coal in everyone’s stockings.

At issue is the upcoming year-end omnibus spending package, and whether or not it will hold true to the principles Republicans campaigned on. This year’s spending package will be the first in 10 years to be constructed under unified GOP control of House, Senate, and the White House, so it should prioritize Republican principles. That’s what elections are for, after all.

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But if media reports are accurate, the spending bill that emerges from Congress to be sent to President Trump will contain more items that Democrats want than items that Republicans want. That would be wrong. It would make a mockery of voter choice as expressed by their votes at the polls last year. What’s the point of voting, if those who win elections don’t follow through on their promises?

Let’s be clear. Voters express their policy choices through their votes. When a group of voters who want policy outcome A outvote the group of voters who want policy outcome B, it is assumed that policy choice A will be enacted. That’s how our government maintains fidelity to the understanding of the Framers of “the consent of the governed.”

But when there are more voters who want policy outcome A, and policy outcome B is enacted instead, that’s perversion of “consent.” Such an outcome explicitly rejects “consent.” It is injurious to the relationship between the governed and those who govern in their name under the Constitution. Thus, it is to be avoided.

There are at least three major areas of contention to be decided on the spending package, and if history is any guide, Democrats will win, and Republicans will lose – and that means the voters who outnumbered Democrats, and who voted to give Republicans the majorities in both houses of Congress and the White House, will lose.

First, there will be a “DACA fix” included in the package. Despite recent denials, including as recently as Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE’s appearance at a Fox News televised town hall meeting last week, House and Senate Republican leaders will likely allow the inclusion of an amnesty for up to 800,000 illegal immigrants in the spending bill.

Why? Because Democrats will insist on it and threaten to vote against the spending package unless the provision is included. Our spineless Republican leaders will fold their hands and give the Democrats what they want, rather than let the Democrats take the blame for shutting down the government unless they get their desired amnesty. Apparently, the thought of taking a dispute to the people doesn’t occur to GOP leaders.

But that’s not the only issue on which Republicans will cave. The second issue will be inclusion of the Alexander-Murray legislation to bail out the health insurance companies to the tune of billions of dollars every year. Years ago, House Republicans were so upset that the Obama administration was making these payments without a proper congressional appropriation that they sued in federal court and won.

Apparently, it turns out that House Republicans weren’t opposed to paying the insurance companies. They were just opposed to paying them without a proper appropriation. What else could one reasonably conclude after watching leading Republicans in both House and Senate prepare to pass a bill appropriating such funds for not one year, but two?

But we’re not done yet. Republicans want to increase spending for defense beyond the levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act. Democrats, being Democrats, are happy to spend taxpayer money. But they’re also insisting that any increase in defense spending be matched by similar increases in domestic discretionary spending.

Just last week, both House and Senate passed and sent to President Trump the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a $77.4 billion increase in defense spending over the budget cap for fiscal 2018. Democrats demand that increase be matched on the domestic side. Congressional GOP leaders will, no doubt, give them what they want.

So as conservatives prepare for “what’s next?” after passage of tax reform, they need a strategy for dealing with their own weak congressional leadership, which has shown itself far more willing to cave in to Democratic spending demands than Democrats have any right to expect after their drubbing at the polls last year. A lump of coal, indeed.

Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.