With the White House in enemy hands, it’s safe for GOP budget forces to come out again
Dust off those old “How to” books, Republicans. It’s time to re-examine your fiscally responsible roots and get to work cutting -- or at least reducing -- government spending.
A definite pattern’s emerged among Republicans in the past three decades, namely, whenever there’s a Democrat residing in the White House just itching to sign a bill with huge dollar totals, the allegedly “conservative” party suddenly realizes the urge to cut or stabilize government spending. Then, whenever a GOPer prevails in the Electoral College, the urgency subsides and Republicans rush to fulfill their own proverbial Christmas wish lists at Uncle Sam’s expense.
Now that it appears Democrat Joe Biden will sit behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office next year, that same ol’ miserly feeling seems to be returning once again. Republican fiscal hawks are awakening from four years’ worth of slumber and are primed to speak up about deficits and shortfalls. Jordain Carney reported at The Hill, “Republicans are preparing to reembrace their inner deficit hawks after greenlighting big spending bills under President Trump.
“GOP senators say they expect to refocus on curbing the nation’s debt and reforming entitlement programs starting in 2021, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the debt has surpassed the size of the American economy…
“The battle over spending could quickly come to a head, with fights looming over budgets, pandemic spending and the debt ceiling, which was suspended under a deal between Trump and Congress. It is set to be reinstated at the end of July. Republicans are already floating requiring a trade-off in exchange for the midyear fight, in a preview of what could be an explosive battle with ramifications for the country’s fiscal reputation, with the economy already battered by the spread of the coronavirus.”
Ah yes, the Chinese Communist Party (or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus. It was the Democrats’ political best friend for the past nine months, but now they’re going to experience much tougher sledding as the American public remains deeply divided over the pandemic’s threat and the government’s divergent measures to combat it. Liberals have relentlessly pounded the concept of lockdowns and mandatory masks, closures and tyrannical executive enforcement, but in truth, nothing seems to have succeeded in controlling the spread.
And Congress has already passed -- and Trump signed -- “relief” bills totaling nearly three trillion dollars. When you hear all the news reports about record consumer spending over the holidays, a good portion of that coronavirus money is being devoted to additional trinkets and goodies under the Christmas tree.
You’d better spring for a larger one (tree) this year since it needs to cover the PlayStation Five (if you can locate one to purchase) for little Joey and the latest iPhone for little Suzy. They’ve been cooped up all these months and need a release, right? Even if public schools do open with increasingly inexplicable distancing requirements and heightened testing next semester, there’s little chance “normalcy” returns by the end of the traditional school calendar.
Of course the millions of people who can’t telecommute to work and have witnessed significant damage done to their livelihoods, retirement portfolios and businesses, mostly by liberal petty tyrant politicians keeping them “safe” from a virus that spares well over 99 percent of those it infects -- well, they’re left out in the cold by Democrats! Unless Republicans relent and agree to massive bailouts of the biggest lockdown perpetrators and their public employee union pensions, don’t expect any “relief” for the little guy whose storefront now reads “Closed. Out of business.”
Most people realized going in that the next president’s (either a reelected Trump or doddering dufus and mentally slipping Joe Biden) term would be extremely fiscally challenging, but today’s conditions are arguably even more serious than anticipated. It’s reached the point where even the media concedes that Grampa Joe’s incoming Treasury Secretary (Janet Yelin!) faces a daunting task of numbers on top of numbers on top of numbers -- and they’re all red!
The Biden political leaders will have a tough time ginning up support for additional virus-related outlays much less the giant tax boost they crave (or repeal of the 2017 Trump tax cuts) and big-time new spending on government controlled healthcare or “climate change” boondoggles. Even the Biden-friendly establishment media can’t avoid talking about the exploding debt figures, something they would’ve gleefully covered if Trump were in his second term.
In essence, Republicans should have an easier time making the case for spending controls without having to sweat a low-information-voter-fueled popular insistence on crushing tax hikes on productive people. Biden will whine and gripe and complain about the opposition party’s meanie leaders saying “no” at every begging session to give him more money. All the back slappin’ and hair sniffin’ in the world won’t make a turd’s worth of difference when there’s no upside to ramming through new big-ticket programs. Makes us feel a little bit better about the election, doesn’t it?
A brief history of Republican wavering on fiscal responsibility and the “Power of No”
Everyone knows President Ronald Reagan spent a lot of time talking about the bloated size of government. Ever the student of history, Reagan could drop a quote that succinctly hit the spot. Some of my favorites are, “Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” And, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Or, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!”
All too true. Today’s political class doesn’t talk like this anymore. Even President Trump rarely spoke of the dire need to cut government, though he did promise to address the topic in his second term if provided the opportunity.
How did we go from Reagan’s mindset to where we are now? The answer is summed up in a look back at the Republican establishment. First there was George H.W. Bush who famously broke his “Read my lips” pledge and agreed to raise tax rates, supposedly to combat the expanding federal budget deficit. Instead of doubling down on Reagan’s supply side policies and reinforcing the free market, the elder Bush folded like a cheap tent to then Democrat Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell’s demand to bludgeon The Gipper’s signature reforms. Conservatives never forgave the gentlemanly George H.W. and he was defeated in his reelection bid.
During Bill Clinton’s first term, Newt Gingrich devised the Contract With America, which completely changed the political balance in America. Gingrich and Republicans promised to enact a number of popular measures if given the chance to make laws by our country’s voters. The new majority accomplished many of the aims, including a balanced federal budget for the first time in decades. The two parties battled over the concept of a Balanced Budget Amendment, which ultimately failed because of a lack of Democrat support in the senate.
Gingrich helped revive the GOP’s reputation for fiscal responsibility, only to then have it completely shattered under President George W. Bush. The second Bush president achieved record popularity in his first term due to his shepherding of the post 9/11/01 American foreign policy and the country’s desire to retaliate for cowardly terrorist strikes on home soil. The “War on Terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan blasted away any and all notions of balanced federal budgets. Simply put, wars are expensive in dollars and costly in lives.
Instead of keeping this in mind, Bush and Republican congressional leaders (under the advice of people like “Bush’s Brain” Karl Rove) set off to try and assure a permanent Republican majority by concocting huge Democrat-like spending programs such as Medicare Part D (prescription drug entitlement) and the Teddy Kennedy inspired “No Child Left Behind” federal education initiative. They were infatuated with power and betrayed conservatives time after time by abandoning any semblance of responsible policy.
The burgeoning annual federal deficit and lack of trust was a major reason why Republicans lost Congress in 2006, handing Nancy Pelosi the Speaker’s gavel for the first time, and then the same cynicism provided the popular impetus to elect Barack Obama in 2008. As long as GOPers were acting like liberals, voters opted for the real thing!
Obama didn’t have much of a resume, but could deliver a heck of a speech with lofty ideals like “Hope and Change.” Republicans couldn’t be relied on to keep their vows on spending, and nominating the eternally wishy-washy John McCain to succeed the spineless George W. Bush didn’t help matters. McCain had solid bona fides on spending, but ignored practically everything else of importance to the party base.
Obama’s first term saw another revival of Republican fiscal emphasis, America’s Tea Parties arose in response to the Democrat president’s overstuffed “stimulus” bill and then the party-line passage of a complete government takeover of the healthcare industry, more commonly known as Obamacare. The Tea Party uprising produced a massive Republican takeover of the federal House in the 2010 elections, then a party senate majority in 2014.
For a short while, Republicans seemed to grasp the need for fiscal responsibility as a political winner. There was Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future”, which embraced the concept of entitlement reform and reducing the rate of growth of government spending. It didn’t get far due to a lack of support from Democrats. Obama’s term also led to Republican efforts to resist raising the debt ceiling as well as negotiations with liberals to enact “Cut, Cap and Balance” in 2011 and the 2013 budget sequesters.
A likely Joe Biden presidency appears to have Republicans readying to repeat the pattern. With only a slim GOP majority in the senate (dependent on winning at least one of two seats in Georgia’s January 5 special election) and Democrats still narrowly presiding in the House, it will be an uphill climb to pass any meaningful reforms on the fiscal front. But GOPers will have the “Power of No” on their side, which to them, has proven valuable in the past.
Be vindictive to Trump, be rewarded in the new Biden administration!
Cheerio, Cindy McCain! This one’s a loss for words, so I’ll leave it to Andrew Mark Miller of The Washington Examiner to explain. Miller wrote, “President-elect Joe Biden is reportedly considering Cindy McCain for an ambassadorship role in his administration.
“McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCain, is being considered for the position of United States ambassador to the United Kingdom, according to multiple reports. ‘It’s hers if she wants it,’ a source with knowledge of the situation reportedly said. ‘She delivered Arizona. They know that.’
“The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.”
Campaigns are always full of bluster in terms of hints as to who will man (or woman) various positions if the election is successful, but nowhere did I find Grampa Joe Biden dropping the name of Cindy McCain for an important ambassadorial role in his quixotic government. The woman has probably never done a hard day’s work in her life (she’s heir to a beer distributor’s fortune) and needless to say, John McCain married her for her sterling intellect, right?
So, a patronage post for lady McCain basically boils down to this: trade off hosting backyard barbecues with other snobby good ol’ boy senators and their families (including Hunter?), diss the head of your late husband’s party in a consequential election, and pack your bags for jolly old England in a few months!
If there were a prince involved in this scenario, Cindy could be the subject of a Hallmark movie (the network often offers cheesy takes on royal family romances). Or maybe she’ll treat herself to an entirely new wardrobe since Arizona’s climate is just slightly different than London’s. She’ll no doubt repeatedly present her qualifications for the job -- something like knowing the words to every Beatles tune!
One thing McCain does possess is solid and unquestioned membership in the Washington ruling class. Even there, she didn’t earn it, having married into the swamp status. Cindy would therefore make a perfect representative to our strongest ally, none other than the Mother Country. If only King George III were alive today!
There will be plenty of opportunities for Republicans to prove themselves if Joe Biden actually does become president. It’s always much harder to pass good new policies than it is to simply say “No” and sit on your hands for bad ones. The GOP rediscovers fiscal responsibility whenever Democrats occupy the White House. Let’s hope they find it again next year.