After the rise of the Tea Party in 2009 as a grassroots expression of revulsion at government bailouts, spending, and Obamacare; after a series of insurgent Tea Party primary victories in 2010 over big-spending incumbents and hand-picked establishmentarians; after Republicans re-took the House that November thanks in part to that new jolt of fiscally conservative energy; after the House majority from 2011-14 successfully used its power of the purse to force debate and at least some temporary agreements on the debt ceiling, long-term entitlements, and year-on-year spending, and then after Republicans re-took the Senate and eventually the White House…after all this activity, when it finally came time for the GOP to stand up and demonstrate its values of fiscal stewardship and limited government, you could count the number of Republicans voting to restrain government spending on exactly one finger:
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), was the only Republican no-vote in yesterday's 51-49 Senate approval of a $4 trillion budget resolution for fiscal year 2018. The resolution, more of a vague blueprint for the next decade, includes $43 billion next year for "Overseas Contingency Operations" (OCOs), a notorious budgeting gimmick that has been responsible for more than $1.7 trillion in off-budget spending this century. Quite unlike the deficit-neutral House budget resolution that passed two weeks ago, the Senate version assumes $1.5 trillion in new debt, and does not make the House's $203 billion in domestic spending cuts (the Senate's final tally is closer to $0).
So how did the fire-breathing fiscal conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus react? By agreeing to not even bother going to conference committee to reconcile the two different budgets, so as not to slow the grand prize of tax cuts by even a couple of weeks.
When given the chance to take seriously government over-spending, and the growth-stunting debt overhang that comes with it, only one Republican is on record yelling "Stop." As Ed Kilgore aptly noted in New York magazine, "all the GOP deficit-hawkery that reigned during the Obama presidency and early in the Trump presidency vanished literally overnight."
Not only that, the budget resolution's existing "cap" on defense spending is by all reported accounts a fiction:
Several senators noted that the discretionary toplines in the plan — which would limit fiscal 2018 defense spending to $549 billion and nondefense to $516 billion — have little meaning since most Democrats as well as Republicans see those limits as too low. […]
GOP and Democratic leaders and the White House have begun to negotiate a deal to raise the defense and nondefense caps, likely for two years, people with knowledge of the talks told CQ.
Great job, everyone.
Does it get worse? Sure. Check out the kicker to this Chicago Tribune article:
Under congressional rules, the nonbinding budget resolution is supposed to lay out a long-term fiscal framework for the government. This year's measure calls for $473 billion in cuts from Medicare over 10 years and more than $1 trillion from Medicaid. All told, Senate Republicans would cut spending by more than $5 trillion over a decade, though they don't attempt to spell out where the cuts would come from.
In reality, Republicans aren't serious about implementing the measure's politically toxic proposals to cut Medicare, food and farm programs, housing subsidies, and transportation. In fact, lawmakers on both sides are pressing to break open the measure's tight spending "caps" on the Pentagon and domestic agency operations and pass tens of billions of dollars more in hurricane relief in coming days and weeks[.]
Here's a reminder from Nick Gillespie why we need less debt: