11 November 2015

2015 Budget Deal: Republicans Betray Conservative Voters

Stephen Kershnar
Republicans Stab America in the Back
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
November 7, 2015

In passing the recent two-year federal budget deal, the Republican Party leadership stabbed America in the back. Every year, Republicans run for office promising to reduce the size and scope of the government and yet every year, like Lucy with the football, they fail to deliver.

The spending cap (budget sequester) is a multi-year limit on spending increases that was put in place in 2011 to prevent the flood of spending that childish Democrats seek each and every year. Because Republicans did not otherwise attempt to cut government spending, the cap did a lot of work. It played a central role in tamping down the growth of government from the piggish levels that occurred during Obama’s first few years in office and in reducing the deficit to less obscene levels.

Writing in Investor’s Business Daily, Stephen Moore points out that even with the cap in place, the federal budget was scheduled to rise by 6% in 2016. In contrast, he notes, inflation is less than 2% and incomes have stagnated for a decade. So what did the Republicans do? They signed off on a deal that in effect destroyed the cap and increased federal spending by 8% next year. So while incomes haven’t increased much in a decade, the Republicans gave the government an 8% raise. What the hell?

Thrown in for good measure by the Democrats and their Republican collaborators was a further raiding of social security revenue and a $32 billion increase in off-budget war spending. The latter is especially galling because labelling spending off-budget is just more dishonest budgeting. The off-budget war spending complements the $40 billion increase in military spending because where would this country be if we couldn’t continue our foreign adventures in Afghanistan and the Middle East and edge ever closer to war with Iran, Russia, and China?

The Republican leadership also raised federal debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion dollars to a total of nearly $20 trillion. During the Obama presidency, the debt has nearly doubled and the Republican collaborators greenlit much of it. The debt is now larger than the economy and more deficits loom ahead.  

What have we gotten from this spending orgy? A number of taxes on the middle class and rich have gone up and the economy stagnated. From 2009-2014, the economy grew at a pathetic average of 1.4% per year and this is with immigration swelling the population. We’ve seen a litany of scandals involving the IRS (targeting of TEA party groups), ATF and Justice Department (Fast and Furious cover up), Veteran’s Department (unnecessary deaths due to incompetence), State Department (Benghazi-related mess), and so on. We’ve also see the Obama administration trample on the Constitution by amnestying millions of illegal aliens, ignoring the law on Obamacare and bankruptcy involving the car companies, starting an illegal war in Libya, and so on. Nothing here merits an 8% raise.

The left loves the raise. They have become completely unhinged from economic reality. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wants to jack up income tax rates on the rich to 70%. Not to be outdone, Hillary Clinton wants to tax capital gains (investment income) at 44%. One can only imagine the damage such policies would produce. 

To be fair, most Republicans did not vote for the spending orgy. Roughly two-thirds of Republican senators and representatives voted against it. Republican Congressional leadership, specifically, Paul Ryan (R-WI), John Boehner (R-OH), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), broke their campaign promises and passed a far left spending deal using Democrat votes. Of course, the shame of New York, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), voted for it, but so did our representative: Tom “RINO” Reed. In so voting, Reed is begging for a primary challenge.

How conservatives and libertarians should respond to this betrayal? There aren’t too many options. First, they can keep on voting Republican and hope that adult legislators (for example, Freedom Caucus) gain influence. The problem is that there is little indication that this will happen. The beltway Republicans have not been made to relinquish power and there is little reason to think they will do so in the near future.

Second, they can vote for a new party. This runs the risk of splitting the right’s vote.

Third, they can sit out an election and snap their wallets closed when Republicans show up hat in hand. This risks empowering the left as their voters will still show up.

These are bad choices. Were the U.S. not approaching a point of no return in terms of the size of government, the debt, and, most importantly, the importation of many far left voters (legal and illegal immigrants), the second and third options might be the way to go. Unfortunately, the importation of new voters makes these options less viable, so conservatives and libertarians will have to go with the first. Perhaps a middle ground can be found where the right refuses to fund the national party and RINOs like John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom Reed get primary challenges.

The gloves in national discussions have to come off. If the left wants to make elections a battle of identity-politics, the right should welcome this development. The left can explain how its candidates are the right choice for blacks, Hispanics, unmarried women, and poor people. The right can explain how its candidates are the right choice for whites, married women, the middle class, and rich people. With the parties increasingly appealing to different sectors of the population, Republican candidates can focus on energizing their base rather than reaching out to groups that haven’t and won’t vote for them, in large part because they like socialism. Not only will focusing on turning out the base work better (see, for example, Reagan’s success and Newt Gingrich’s and the TEA party insurgencies), it will prevent the core beliefs of Republican voters from being ground into the dirt. 

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