Republicans missed best shot on keeping promise to cut spending

House Republicans took it on the chin in the midterm elections. The loss reflected historical precedent, but let us be clear about this. Republicans lost the House because they failed to deliver on their campaign promise to cut spending. While they were successful in passing tax cuts, they failed to cut spending in any meaningful way while holding a majority in the House and Senate. Whatever happened to the fiscal responsibility Republicans passionately called for when Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaForget conventional wisdom — Bernie Sanders is electable 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care Obama shares summer reading list MORE was in office?

For all their talk of spending cuts on the campaign trail, Republicans have been asleep at the wheel in Washington. Republicans forgot to govern like Republicans, and the fiscally conservative base of the party punished them accordingly at the polls. If there is any silver lining to Republicans losing the House, it is that deficits tend to decrease as spending slows under divided government. In fact, the last time Congress passed a balanced budget was back when Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonThe magic of majority rule in elections The return of Ken Starr Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE was in the White House.


Gridlock is often used as a dirty word, but in reality, it can prevent unnecessary spending and harmful expansions of government. As Calvin Coolidge once said, “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.” Since Dwight Eisenhower, the average spending increase under a united government was nearly 4.7 percent, compared to less than 2.6 percent under a divided government. This trend holds true regardless of which party controls the levers of power in Washington.

When Republicans controlled the House in 2010, they opposed spending proposals by Democrats because they were not their spending proposals. From 2008 to 2015, under a Republican House, Democratic Senate, and Democratic White House, the deficit fell 70 percent. As we have seen during the first two years of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump watching 'very closely' as Portland braces for dueling protests WaPo calls Trump admin 'another threat' to endangered species Are Democrats turning Trump-like? MORE, Republicans in Congress misplace their fiscal discipline when they hold control of both chambers and have no excuses standing between themselves and the debt crisis. They willingly appropriate billions of taxpayer dollars on their own pet programs and sit back, hoping the American people will not notice.

The fiscal 2018 budget deal was a financial monstrosity that blew through spending caps like a hurricane. The United States is already on track to dole out more money to pay off our debt than for defense, while Social Security and other entitlements are set to become insolvent within a decade. The primary drivers of our national debt are mandatory spending programs, namely Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Neither party is serious about making cuts to entitlements. In fact, some lawmakers are actually looking to further expand these flawed federal programs.

Congress needs to take a hard look at reforming entitlements if the United States is going to avert disaster. A debt crisis looms that could leave our country defenseless and our economy in shambles. Interest paid on our obligations is on track to exceed 100 percent of our gross domestic product. Make no mistake, the greatest national security threat to the United States is our growing $21 trillion debt. A booming economy means nothing if the government defaults. Republicans should have used the first two years of this administration as an opportunity to cut spending and shrink the deficit, but they failed to do so. Republicans need to muster up what little political courage they have left to fight for it.

House Democrats are likely going to come out in swinging with radical legislation that will be dead on arrival in a Republican Senate. If historical trends hold true, a divided government should present an opportunity for Republicans to chip away at the deficit, but is up to them to hold the line. If they wants a path toward reclaiming the majority, they should take a page from the playbook of the House Freedom Caucus and get serious about reforming our spending. Simply put in the words of Congressman Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDemocratic Women's Caucus calls for investigation into Epstein plea deal DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr's Russia probe interviews CNN slams GOP for not appearing on network after mass shootings, conservatives fire back MORE, they should do what they promised voters they would do.

Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks.