Good news, America! Republicans are ready to reduce government spending and tackle the national debt after doing the exact opposite over the past four years . . . Really!
Sure, Donald Trump boldly claimed during the GOP presidential primaries in 2016 to rein government spending on his way to eliminating the national debt — a mere $19 trillion at the time — “over a period of eight years.” And sure, the Republican Party made a commitment — again — to address the national debt by including it in the party’s 2016 platform.
“The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations. We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government, and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations.”
But that was then and this is now. Besides, we all know those were just lies told to gullible supporters of the Republican Party to help put more of them in office. It’s not like they’re doing the same thing this time around. Right?
So, let’s ignore these apparent broken promises of the past and the fact that Trump and the GOP have increased the national debt by $8.3 trillion in 4 years.
Let’s turn a blind eye to the explosion in the national debt we’ve witnessed under varying degrees of GOP control of Congress and the White House since 2011.
Let’s disregard the fact that Trump’s FY2020 budget (which ended in September) projected a $9 trillion increase to the U.S. budget deficit by the end of a second term he won’t be serving.
Let’s brush aside the fact that record-breaking spending was taking place BEFORE coronavirus bailouts and how Republicans are ready to open that spending spigot again.
Besides, with a Democrat in the White House and the 2024 presidential campaign season unofficially underway, faux conservatives like Sen. Josh Hawley need to begin painting themselves as the conservatives we all know they never were.
In a report by TheHill.com, we learn how Republicans are ready to become deficit hawks again now that it will be Biden and not Trump in the White House. Try not to laugh too hard.
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.
“I think that’s kind of getting back to our DNA. … I think spending, entitlement reform, growth and the economy are all things that we’re going to have to be focused on next year, and, yeah, I would expect you’ll hear a lot more about that,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican.
The shift could pose a significant headache for a new Biden administration that will need GOP support in the Senate to move its agenda. It is also likely to complicate efforts on a debt ceiling deal.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is poised to become the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee if Republicans maintain their majority. He said he wants to create a new commission to propose ways to reduce the deficit and address the country’s debt.
“I think we’ve got to understand that we’re going to be raising the debt ceiling in perpetuity if we don’t find a way to bend the curve,” Graham said.
Ah, yes. The debt ceiling. This has been a dealing card of the Republican Party ever since Paul Ryan gave us the Budget Control Act of 2011, a bill he praised as a “positive step forward in getting government spending under control.” The Budget Control Act was designed to put caps on spending with a trigger for automatic across-the-board spending cuts (sequester) to be applied whenever the caps were exceeded.
However, Republicans’ self-imposed limitations on spending and the national debt were quickly abandoned two years later when Paul Ryan joined Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) to bring us the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, a bill that raised spending limits for two years (don’t we have elections every two years?) with a promise of recouping it ten years down the road.
This betrayal of his promise to reduce spending and tackle the national debt earned Ryan an induction into the Gutless On Principles Hall of Shame.
“Whoever is in the White House, I hope they realize how serious the debt crisis is and how important it is that we put measures in place to address it,” said Thune. “And hopefully when that vote comes around, we’ll have some of those reforms.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said he wants to see offsets such as required spending cuts as part of a deal to increase the debt ceiling next year.
“I think you can expect there to be conditions. At least some members will try to get them,” Cramer said. “I don’t think there’s any question that a lot of conservative Republican members are going to require some sort of conditions.”
Something tells me that Thune wouldn’t be worried about the “debt crisis” or seeking budget “reforms” had Trump won. And as far as Cramer’s call for “spending cuts” in exchange for an increase to the debt ceiling is concerned, see my comments above.
Aware of the obvious hypocrisy being displayed by claiming to be born-again budget hawks, Lindsey Graham attempted to silence the critics by passing the buck to the Democrats. “We got here together, right? I’m not saying the Republican Party is the answer. We’re not. I’m saying the answer has got to be something like Simpson-Bowles. There’s got to be some shared understanding of the problem,” he said.
For the record, “Simpson-Bowles” is Washington-speak for The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bi-partisan commission charged with reducing the deficit during the Obama administration. The report released by the 18-member commission recommended massive tax increases (including on Social Security), raising the retirement age, and minimal reductions in spending.
No wonder Graham wants to resurrect it. TheHill.com concludes with an quote from Sen. Mike Braun about where all this talk about reducing spending and tackling the national debt will likely end up:
And even as Republicans are talking about reining in spending, they are being met with skepticism by their own colleagues.
“To me that has gotten to be such a routine that it’s almost part of the way things work,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) about raising the debt ceiling. “People give it lip service and talk about it.”
“I’m not sure we’ll do anything any different than what the current process is, where you maybe kind of shuffle, maneuver and end up raising the debt ceiling,” he added.
Big-government spending has been standard operating procedure for far-left Democrats for decades, but Republicans have proven to be just as far-left when it comes to spending and the national debt. This is why Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, and the rest of the Republican leadership relied on the politics of distraction in 2020; they were hoping to hide this truth from the American people.
Don’t let them fool you. Republicans are just as addicted to big-government spending as Democrats are. And if we allow them to skate on this issue once again, we’ll end up on the receiving end of more spending, more debt, and the eventual demise of our once great republic.
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.