Congress Has Failed To Control Federal Spending Or Reduce Debt - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Congress Has Failed To Control Federal Spending Or Reduce Debt

October 22nd, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Congress Has Failed To Control Federal Spending Or Reduce Debt

By Thomas Patterson

Guest Writer

Congressional Republicans should be teed up for a big win this November. They’ve had four years to move their programs, the last two with a cooperative president.

The president is deeply unpopular, but the Democrats are seriously courting electoral failure too. Consumed by hatred, they’ve spent their political capital on McCarthyite tactics of personal destruction, physical confrontation and impeachment fever. But Republicans’ ability to cash in on the “results versus resistance“ theme is marred by their lack of significant accomplishments.

Thanks to Harry Reid’s shortsightedness in lowering the requirements for affirming Supreme Court justices, they have approved two nominees loyal to the constitution. They passed Speaker Ryan’s tax reform bill, which also eliminated Obamacare’s individual mandate. That’s about it.

The other wins – regulatory rollbacks, withdrawal from the dangerously flawed Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accords, rapprochement with North Korea, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and others – were all executive branch actions. The legislature as usual took a powder.

The most consequential of congressional policy failures has been their inability to control federal spending or reduce the deficit, much less the debt. There will never be a better chance to finally exercise fiscal restraint.

GDP growth surpassed 4 percent last quarter in spite of blowback from the President’s trade wars. The labor market stands at full employment, wages are rising and equity markets are at all-time highs.

These are hardly economic conditions that call for massive borrowing, yet the federal government will run an $800 billion deficit this year with trillion-dollar deficits projected next year and as far as the eye can see.

Not long ago, these horrific projections were considered by many Republicans to be aberrations, attributable to Obama-era spending excesses. They would be reversed if Republicans could get in office.

But our self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives, once in power, haven’t shown the slightest interest in spending cuts. By now, they’ve whiffed so many times it’s an obvious pattern. They didn’t even try to get minimal entitlement reform.

Instead, the current campaign once again features politicians demagoguing that “my opponent tried to take away your Social Security” or whatever, conveniently ignoring the fact that doing nothing really does take away benefits from future seniors.

The Democrats aren’t about to do any heavy lifting here, so the Republicans impotence will have serious consequences. The day of reckoning is not as far off as you think.

When the next recession comes, and it will, interest rates will inevitably rise in already stressed credit markets. America will be hard put to maintain our debt payments and the federal safety net. How high can deficits reach before the world’s financial giant cracks under the strain? By then, all but the most painful resolutions will be impossible.

Congressional Republicans, for all their campaign promises, have been passive about immigration issues too. In past years, they (some of them anyway) did a good job playing defense against repeated attempts at “comprehensive“ reform, transparent attempts to remake the political landscape. But they have so far squandered their chance to implement alternatives that would benefit America economically.

How about cracking down on workplace non-enforcement and sanctuary cities, clarifying no amnesty for lawbreakers, ensuring visas are available for high demand occupations and requiring that immigrants assimilate and are financially self-sufficient. It would conform our policies with other advanced nations and would play well with voters.

There are several other urgent matters still on the table. The promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare is still unmet, thanks to John McCain.

They should eliminate the Consumer Protection Review Board, Elizabeth Warren’s unconstitutional hobby horse with its unchecked powers. They should codify some executive directives so that they’re not easily reversed by a future president.

Democrats are dangerously close to ending the hallowed tradition of “peaceful transition of power,“ a long-term key to America’s stability and strength. Their policy prescriptions embrace overt support of socialism and free college, housing and medical care miraculously supplied by a debtor government.

In this critical election, Republicans must have more to offer than just not being Democrats. In the affairs of governing, if you’re not going forward, you’re going backwards. They could at least try.

– Thomas Patterson is a former East Valley legislator.