Republicans abandon conservatism

//Republicans abandon conservatism

Republicans abandon conservatism

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney, the former tea party congressman who runs the White House budget office, said that Trump’s new budget, if implemented, would tame the deficit over time. Photo: Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press


Remember Republicans’ enduring commitment over most of our lifetimes to eliminate the federal budget deficit and trim the national debt? Well, forget it.

In fact, with the GOP controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, the government this year likely will inflict nearly an additional trillion dollars on the existing $20 trillion national debt. And just like your credit card balance, the total federal obligations also will increase right along with now-rising interest rates.


Amazingly after all the promises and pleas for more than two generations, it seems everyone, except maybe a showboat senator making a futile late-night legislative gesture, seems good with such overspending.

This week, President Trump unveiled the White House’s $4.4 trillion budget. It includes numerous program cuts and increased military spending.

White House budgets are always doomed because Congress thinks it does the annual budgeting, or better said, fails to do the annual budgeting. Trump’s 2019 document anticipates a $984 billion deficit, 48 percent larger than the past complete fiscal year.

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Additionally, the administration released a much-anticipated $1.5 trillion nationwide infrastructure repair proposal.

“We’re trying to build roads and bridges,” said Trump, “and fix bridges that are falling down. And we have a hard time getting the money. It’s crazy.”

Everyone pretty well agrees that much of the nation’s infrastructure is badly corroded, even crumbling, from delayed maintenance.

“This,” a White House briefing official said, “in no way, shape or form should be considered a take-it-or-leave-it proposal. This is the start of a negotiation — bicameral, bipartisan negotiation — to find the best solution for infrastructure in the U.S.”

Sounds reasonable. Also very hopeful. The usually cranky minority Democrats could be expected to embrace such grand-scale Washington spending.

Trump will need that Democratic support. That’s because after the tax cuts that will add over $1 trillion to the deficit in the next 10 years even with an improving economy, a fair number of Republican hypocrites are now likely to rediscover their yellowing notes on fiscal responsibility.

Those tired words recall how terrible were Barack Obama’s four straight trillion-dollar budget deficits. And how vital it is for the nation’s future that budgets be balanced. And how imperative that an incomprehensible national debt with 15 zeros be slashed over time, likely by future generation of pols.

Picture this: Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan will fall under the umbrellas of at least six committees in the House and another five committees in the Senate, all chaired by Republicans — for now. Even Amazon’s vast cloud computers can’t calculate all the permutations, obstacles and political cross-currents such a legislative journey would witness.

All this spending and proposed spending underlines the death of the GOP’s traditional fiscal conservatism under the leadership of a political insurgent and real estate billionaire whose companies declared bankruptcy a half-dozen times. As a campaigner, he complained about the costs of many things. But he’s no fiscal conservative.

To be fair, Republicans never invited Trump to take them over. In fact, they ran 15 men and one woman to stop him. They each failed because the even wealthier son of a wealthy man heard the heartland anger and frustration all the others missed.

Now, facing the dark prospects of a foreboding midterm election, his Republican Party is going along with the predictably unpredictable man they chronically grumble about.

And as for reforming costly entitlements, the largest expense and real fiscal volcano beneath the molten federal spending dilemma, that must await another year and a crop of elected officeholders brave enough and willing to commit political suicide. In other words, don’t hold your breath.

Andrew Malcolm is an author and veteran national and foreign correspondent covering politics since the 1960s. Follow him @AHMalcolm. He wrote this for the Washington, D.C., bureau of McClatchy Newspapers.

By | 2018-03-09T01:42:43+00:00 March 9th, 2018|Conservatism and the GOP|

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