Repub­li­cans in Congress break fis­cal prom­ises — again

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - OPINION -

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 deficit sand 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 ev­er­larger, 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.

Jerry Shenk Colum­nist

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