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April 23, 2018

3/31/2018 7:29:00 AM
Getting what they so richly deserve

Several months ago, when the GOP-controlled Congress passed a $1.4-trillion tax cut, we opined that America could be on the verge of a golden era of prosperity - that we could be on the verge of making America great again.

But, we cautioned, one thing had to happen, or potential success could morph into a fiscal disaster - namely, the federal deficit and debt had to be cut.

The tax cuts, while stimulating the economy, will also add about a trillion dollars to the nation's debt over a decade, and that demands offsetting spending cuts to avoid wiping out the economic growth fueled by the cuts:

"Pay-as-you-go is the only responsible way to finance a tax cut, and that means cutting the bloated federal budget by the trillion dollars needed over the next decade," we wrote. "That sounds impossible, but there's so much waste and bloat and special-interest money in the government that it's really not tough at all."

Well, not only did Congress not adopt pay as you go, in the latest $1.3-trillion budget bill they decided to spend even more, which all totaled will add about $420 billion more to the nation's debt over the next decade.

It all adds up to a perfect storm of economic disaster. The Committee for a Responsible Budget expects the permanent return of trillion-dollar deficits next year, specifically projecting deficits to rise from last year's $665 billion to more than $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2019 and to $1.7 trillion by 2028.

And this from a Republican Congress and a Republican president who criticize such deficits when Democrats are in power.

It is, in fact, a largely Democratic budget, as Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee Caucus, told The Hill: "It just boggles my mind that we continue to spend at a level that's no different than the last three or four years of the Obama administration."

Other conservatives in Congress echoed that sentiment, and even encouraged Trump to veto the bill, but of course fiscal conservatives in Congress are a rare and almost extinct species. If Democrats are the party of tax-and-spend - and they are - then Republicans are the party of borrow-and-spend, which is exactly what they must do to pay for simultaneously cutting revenues and increasing spending.

The bill will fall to young people and future generations to pay, either in the form of higher taxes or a lower standard of living or both. At least Democrats, by taxing us now, stick it to the present generation.

What's sad is that there's so much waste and bloat in the budget that we could cut it with the political will.

For example, the budget deals more than $7 billion to the National Science Foundation but does nothing to rein in that agency's frivolous spending. The agency does fund valuable projects, but it also goes off the rails fairly frequently, like when it spent $700,000 on a Climate Change Musical.

Last year alone, as we have reported elsewhere, it spent $310,000 to study congressional "Dear Colleague" letters; $450,000 to study why there is no single English word for "light blue"; and $330,000 to study cell phone use by Tanzanian women.

Sadly, we are not making this stuff up.

Worst of all, the budget funds many Democratic priorities while defunding or short-funding much of President Trump's agenda. With friends like these, conservatives don't need enemies.

So where does all of this leave us, except with a horrible economic outcome?

Well, for one thing, probably with a Democratic Congress after November's elections. American voters aren't fools. They know this passel of big-government Republicans does not have their best interests at heart, and, hey, if they are going to fund Democratic initiatives, why not just vote for the Democrats themselves?

And that's just what they have been doing in recent special elections.

Some experts still don't believe the Democrats can overcome strongly partisan district lines to win the 24 seats they need in November. While this might be an exceptional wave election, a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice cautions that extreme gerrymandering could make the election wave more of a ripple.

According to that report, Democrats would need to win by an unprecedented nationwide margin of nearly 11 points to win a majority, and neither Democrats nor Republicans have won such an overwhelming margin in decades.

But this just might be the decade they do. In Pennsylvania, a Democrat just won narrowly in a district Trump won by 20 points. That's almost double the 11-point margin Democrats need.

And make no mistake, this blue wave has been launched as a revolt against Congress, not against Donald Trump. According to both pre-election polls and exit interviews, Trump remained popular in that Pennsylvania congressional district, and his visit there in the closing days of the campaign likely made the election a close one, rather than a Democratic runaway.

No, it's Congress in the crosshairs, and the ghastly budget bill the GOP Congress just passed all but doomed the party's congressional chances in the fall. It's likely too late to do anything about it.

Ultimately, though, losing the House might not be the end of the world. With Nancy Pelosi running that chamber, Donald Trump will able to remind voters why they voted for him and Republicans in the first place, setting the stage for Trump's re-election and a return to GOP power in Congress in 2020.

After all, along with Maxine Waters, Pelosi is one Democrat who can make Trump look pretty sane, and, if a Democratic House impeaches the president - the GOP will almost assuredly retain the Senate so Trump is in no real danger - that will fire up the 2020 base even more.

And in that election, conservatives can mount campaigns that bring them the Republican nomination, so that a new Republican majority would actually be a conservative majority, unlike the establishment GOP majority of today.

Of course, it's never a good thing to put Democrats in control of anything, but this year it might be as necessary as it is inevitable. It may be the only way for conservatives to build a truly conservative party.

As Sen Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) tweeted last week: "When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party. But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party."

So perhaps it's time to build one. There's an old saying about people needing to clean their own house first. This year, conservatives just may need to clean their own party first. They may need to drain their own swamp before they can drain the larger cesspool.

If that happens in November, this GOP Congress - elitist and globalist to its core - will get what it so richly deserves.





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