On May 17, 29 Republican Senators joined their Democrat “colleagues” to block Ran Paul’s (R-Ky) proposal to balance the federal budget in five years, reinforcing what we have known for a long time:
The bulk of lawmakers in DC's country club infrastructure have been selling snake oil each time they claimed they were for “smaller government”.
Paul’s office issued a press release on May 17 explaining that his plan would have balanced the budget within five years, without touching Social Security, by restoring spending to pre-Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 levels and utilizing the 'Penny Plan.'
What’s the “Penny Plan”, you ask? Your display of curiosity might be more than what many of Rand Paul’s GOP “colleagues” offered. Many of them seemed dismissive of it from the start, despite its simplicity:
The plan simply states that for every on-budget dollar the federal government spent in FY18, excluding the BBA, it spend one penny less for the next five years (at which point balance is reached), with spending then growing at one percent thereafter. The plan would have reduced spending by $404.8 billion in FY19 and by $13.35 trillion over 10 years relative to the present baseline.
Pushing aside Social Security for the time being, Rand Paul’s proposal sounds like it actually achieves what the politicians tell us they want so much: to stop driving the corporation of the US government deeper and deeper into debt, to stop producing budgets that foist tax enslavement on generations not yet born, and only enslave those currently living. At least that’s a start.
But the chorus of Big Government, many of whom dress themselves in the robes of “Patriotism” and “Fighting for Our Heroes Who Fight for Our Freedom” don’t dig Rand’s attempt to do what the GOP claims it wants.
Lindsey Graham (R-SC), that courageous and heroic patriot himself claimed:
This budget throws our military in a ditch, and I am tired of doing that… It is a joke. Now is not the time to be funny. Now is the time to be serious.
Perhaps Senator Graham is privy to some new definition of the word “serious” that has yet to become part of American vernacular. One might just think that a man playing with the earnings of other people is the one who doesn’t take them seriously, while the man who wants to leave that money in the hands of those who earned it (and will earn it, since Mr. Graham is enslaving the unborn, while Mr. Paul is trying to free them a bit) does. Indeed, it seems as if Mr. Graham simply assumes that the earnings of the American serf are his.
What a guy.
But his exasperating egotism is not unique. For years the GOP has been singing the tune of “smaller government”, while striking up the band for a bigger and bigger government dance party, performed on the backs of the taxpayers.
As Veronique de Rugy notes for Reason, going back decades, the GOP establishment has twisted its words to sell the promise of “reducing the federal government burden”, while actually picking our tax pockets to expand the central US government.
There was a time when GOP lawmakers called for the elimination of entire federal agencies. Today, milquetoast promises to pursue smaller government are followed by votes for ever bigger government.
And this is not necessarily “new”. When deRugy writes “today”, she can go back a few decades. In fact:
Under George W. Bush, who was elected on a platform of fiscal restraint, total federal spending increased in real terms by 53 percent. Enabled and encouraged by a Republican-led Congress, his administration adopted the politically self-serving notion that "deficits don't matter." No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and bank bailouts serve as a vivid reminder that shrinking the state doesn't stand a chance.
Ronald Reagan tried to make deals to reduce social spending, but he expanded the military state, thus:
Overall annual spending jumped 22 percent in real terms during Reagan's first term. By comparison, it grew by just 12.5 percent under Bill Clinton and 0.3 percent under Barack Obama (when giving his predecessor full credit for fiscal year 2009, as we do for all departing presidents in this exercise).
Yes. The GOP has talked the talk, but rarely walked the “fiscal” walk, let alone the constitutional or ethical paths.
In 2011, Republicans used the fight over increasing the debt ceiling to curtail Obama's spending desires, but ever since they have joined Democrats in breaching spending caps. They attacked the rise in food stamp usage but helped keep what are essentially welfare checks flowing to wealthy farmers and landowners. They complained about the green subsidies that the Obama administration gave to now-defunct Solyndra but refused to terminate the underlying program (which, by the way, began during the Bush years).
To many people Donald Trump represented a push-back against this kind of hypocrisy and double-dealing. They hoped that the GOP would learn from the face-slap it received by Tea Party supporters of Trump, and thought that, perhaps, the budget hawks might fly for the first time.
Rand Paul flies while the old-line try to net him and pull him to the ground.
And the talking heads on TV throw microphones in front of country-clubbers like Lindsey Graham to spout the same old drivel.
Seems the situation is like the band the Talking Heads once described:
(Cover Photo Sen. Rand Paul/Twitter)