by Erik Halvorson
Fiscal conservatism is dead.
After eight years of legitimate and accurate criticism of the Obama administration for their excessive and irresponsible spending, Republicans, now in control of Washington, have elected to follow suit and extend the same big government policy of capricious expenditure. In a middle of the night vote last Thursday, the Senate opted to end the hour-long government shutdown initiated by Senator Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) filibuster against the abominable budget deal agreed to by leaders of both parties. With President Trump signing the bill into law, the new budget will lift caps on non-defense spending by over $300 billion in just two years and add an estimated $1 trillion to the national debt.
This is unacceptable. Most of the GOP members who now control both chambers of Congress were elected on the promise that they would cut taxes, cut spending, and shrink the behemoth and ever-expanding government. Unfortunately, as it has turned out, when the rubber meets the road, these politicians are no different from progressives. They flippantly and frivolously spend Americans’ money, leaving future generations more and more burdened by their leaders’ ineptitude. Congressional Republicans betrayed and failed the American people, and the consequences are real.
According to economist Dr. Ivan Pongracic:
Last night’s budget deal has once again demonstrated that the GOP has no interest in sticking to their supposed principles. This is the most fiscally irresponsible bill since Obama’s ’09 stimulus bill, and it shows that party politics will always trump promises made to voters. It also comes as the federal debt has begun to accelerate, and it makes it impossible to even imagine how we could possibly solve this problem, which I would describe as the most significant one facing our republic. The budget bill was an act of political expediency and cowardice that I would even go as far as to describe as treasonous.
Somewhere down the line, our $21 trillion (and more) in debt will come due. We will either have to substantially raise taxes, substantially inflate our currency, or most likely a combination of the two — growing our way out of this hole is simply not possible at this point. Regardless of the course of action, any of these options will substantially harm consumer welfare.
Along with the estimated $60,000 of debt per U.S citizen, the federal government also boasts over $210 trillion in unfunded liabilities, mostly in the form of entitlements. Anyone who believes this continued course of break-neck spending is maintainable is wildly mistaken. The sole reason the United States has been able to reach such peaks without substantial repercussions thus far is due to the to relative weakness of other powerful economies and the artificially low interest rates imposed by the Federal Reserve. However, both these trends are already beginning to turn.
If Republicans refuse to be the party of fiscal conservatism, then voters have two options: abandon the Republican Party for a genuinely limited government party, or radically change the leadership of the GOP in order to elect candidates who will keep their promises. Either way, fiscal conservatism is dead and will remain so until Americans who care about the future of this country band together to start a new movement.
This midterm season will offer voters an opportunity to let Republicans know how they feel about this failure of governance. It’s time to send a message.