WASHINGTON, D.C. – Give us the House, they said. Give us the House and the Senate, they said. Give us the House, the Senate, and the White House, they said.
After years of making promises that, if elected to majorities, they’d stop the Swamp’s addiction to spending cold-turkey, Republicans on Capitol Hill have now embraced the highest levels of spending ever. Spending that would make Obama blush. Spending that dooms our kids and grandchildren to paying off unimaginable debts, or suffering under ever rising prices as the government inflates them away.
If there is any hope at all that Republicans will actually live up to their campaign rhetoric, it comes in the form of a few brave lawmakers that buck the budgets – Continuing Resolutions – of the Establishment. Two of them lead some of the more conservative factions in the U.S. House. They are from North Carolina, and they’re both named Mark.
“Part of our job right now (is) that we keep pounding that Republicans still stand for fiscal responsibility,” said Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., who chairs the House Republican Study Committee, a coalition of conservatives.
But he was on the losing side as the House early Friday cleared a massive two-year spending package that President Donald Trump quickly signed into law. Sixty-seven Republicans voted against the two-year budget plan that became law Friday, but 167 voted yes.
The bill could add as much as $320 billion to the debt over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and push the fiscal 2019 deficit past $1.2 trillion, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a research group. The deal included about $100 billion in offsets, not enough to assuage many conservatives.
It was one of the biggest deficit-busters since the 2009 economic stimulus plan that spent nearly $800 billion as the nation reeled from the Great Recession of 2007-09. Since then, other budget bills have been approved by familiar Republican-Democrat coalitions, with tea party loyalists usually opposed.
A real budget has not passed congress since George W. Bush was president. In the mean time, the Big Government interests have used Continuing Resolutions to force up or down votes on insane spending bills that are bleeding our country dry.
The latest spending measure signed by Trump was no different. It used the deadline as a gun to the head of lawmakers and if they dared question the intellectual honesty of spending such crazy amounts of money after promising the American people fiscal conservatism (Sen. Rand Paul), they were ripped by the Establishment as grandstanding or accused of not standing up for our troops.
The Republicans that just shuffle along with the status quo (Robert Pittenger) or outright patronized those who actually adhere to principles (Thom Tillis) will deservedly face primary challengers from the Right.
“Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., has been targeted by the tea party in the past and once again faces a challenge from the right this year. He insisted he “stood with Trump and the troops” with his yes vote Friday.
“We really don’t have an option,” Pittenger said. “We’ve got sailors and servicemen and women out there. We’ve not provided for them the way they should be. We’ve had accidents needlessly, not enough training hours. You can’t assume the world is going to wait on us.”
Don’t have an option? B.S. You make these choices at every step along the way, but especially when you cozy up to the Establishment line as they seek to grow government bigger and bigger.
Perhaps the most potent weapon conservatives have in the House, where the purse strings reside, is North Carolina’s Mark Meadows.
“This is not what the American people sent us here to do,” declared the House Freedom Caucus, chaired by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.
The caucus consists of roughly three dozen of the House’s most conservative members. Since the 435-member House has 238 Republicans, and 218 votes are usually needed to pass legislation, the Freedom Caucus is strong enough to derail GOP-backed legislation if most Democrats are opposed.
Many caucus members were first elected in the tea party year of 2010, riding the wave of the grassroots movement that pledged a more fiscally responsible, streamlined government. Instead, the new members saw GOP lawmakers joining Democrats time after time to approve budgets that did little to achieve tea party aims.
Meadows’ coalition is being buoyed by angry movement conservatives outside the Capitol. Americans for Prosperity called the spending bill “a betrayal of American taxpayers and a display of the absolute unwillingness of members of Congress to adhere to any sort of responsible budgeting behavior.”
“We’re all about more tanks and planes when it comes to protecting our families, but part of protecting our families is being fiscally responsible for allowing the next generation to pursue the American dream,” Walker said. “We’re on a path where that won’t happen.”
On top of the latest spending splurge, Monday President Trump introduced a $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, $200 billion of which would come from the federal government.
These kinds of outlays deserve a normal budgeting process, honest and aggressive spending CUTS to unnecessary programs, and serious reforms of the entitlement welfare programs that act as a giant hole in the bottom of the nation’s purse.
If electing Republican majorities to congress, and putting an unafraid brawler in the White House can’t accomplish this, what can?