President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE’s signing of last week’s $1.3 trillion omnibus bill was “business as usual” in Washington, typical of the one-party ruling class of Republicans and Democrats. It was a triumph of the swamp, a big-government dream come true for Sen. Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol Democrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) and many in Republican ranks who masquerade as “limited government” conservatives on the campaign trail but vote straight swamp party once they’re ensconced in D.C.
This isn’t what many Trump supporters signed up for in 2016, when we had more than a dozen Republican candidates from which to choose for president. Only Donald Trump really represented a true departure from the norm of Republican politics.
Unfortunately, this seemed to be a trend even beyond Trump. The grassroots sends their fire-breathing, bomb-throwing, conservative-to-the-bone freshmen congressmen to drain the swamp, but many end up coming back to the district like they’ve been put under a voodoo spell. In their eyes, the swamp went from disgusting muck to a bubbling hot tub.
What many of us had hoped for was that President Trump would stand his ground and be the hard-nosed negotiator the American people need. He should have slapped a big fat veto stamp on this bill and sent it back to House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE (R-Wis.), Senate Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble MORE (R-Ky.) and company with demands to get their act together.
A simple, short-term bill would have done enough to keep the government going while Congress did the work we’ve elected it to do — breaking the status quo of swamp victories, and fighting for the American people.
I know many of the media and political elite would blabber on about a shutdown, but lest we forget, the government shut down eight times during the Reagan administration and the planet not only kept turning but America didn’t turn into a Mad Max-style dystopia. American even experienced 3.5 percent GDP on average during Reagan’s tenure at the White House.
Honestly, the vast majority of the country could carry on normally without the bureaucrats in D.C. lighting their tax dollars on fire, and this is a debate worth having: What is the proper size and role of government in our lives? But we can’t have that debate when we’re just rubber-stamping $1.3 trillion omnibus bills.
Do we really need more than 430 departments, agencies and sub-agencies? Do we really need to have almost 2 million federal government employees who cost the American taxpayer $138 billion a year?
Do we really need to be funding entities like Planned Parenthood with over half a billion taxpayer dollars? Let’s even have the conversation about the military-industrial complex: While I’m all for a strong national defense and taking care of our men and women in uniform, isn’t it time we took a harder look at where our military spending is actually going?
This omnibus bill is the latest episode in a saga of our national government growing in size and scope. The consolidation of power in, and the growth of, a massive “administrative state” has always been the progressive dream, from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson to FDR and LBJ, with the hope that “progress” could be accelerated through a more powerful state.
Yet the problem with a massive administrative state — besides faceless bureaucrats tucked into virtually unknown agencies making six figures off the American taxpayer — is that it becomes a voracious leviathan, never satisfied, always wanting more money and more power. More troubling is the fact that the administrative state has given rise to an unaccountable deep state were many forget they aren’t above the law but, in fact, are servants of the American people.
This is why the message of Trump resonated in 2016: The idea of “drain the swamp” and devolving power out of D.C. was the right message at the right time. We as a country are in a period of trying to really understand what our future looks like; is it a reset period during which we undo the progressive administrative state and attempt a return to more of a founder’s approach, or do we just capitulate and let the state rise until all pretense is gone and we accept that we serve it?
This is why last week’s omnibus was so frustrating. You cannot even have the debate about draining the swamp if you continue to feed the ecosystem, the administrative state, that is the very foundation for the swamp.
For the sake of freedom on all levels, and the fiscal stability and sanity of our country moving forward, we do have to devolve power out of D.C. We have to have the conversation about how we shrink and reduce the administrative state. But, more importantly, so that we’re doing more than just talking, we need to elect representatives that don’t merely give lip service to it all but who actually believe it is a necessary thing to do before we pass the point of no return.
Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter: @NedRyun.