The GOP turns a blind eye to DC's spending addiction

  • 28 November 2017
  • NormanL
The GOP turns a blind eye to DC's spending addiction

Not that long ago, there was a breed of politician elected to Congress dedicated to cleaning up the swollen river of red ink running through the federal budget. Those tough talking, tea party-inspired congressmen knew the government's spending problems would bring catastrophe to future generations. And today? No one seems to care about the red ink any more:

"The priority is spending," the energetic and newly minted congressman, sporting an American flag pin on his dark suit jacket, told the C-SPAN host, soon adding, "the size of the government is really what it comes down to."

The year was 2010, and the congressman-elect was Mick Mulvaney, then a 43-year-old restaurateur and developer who rode the tea party wave during President Obama's first term to defeat 14-term incumbent Democrat John Spratt and be the first Republican to represent South Carolina's 5th Congressional District since 1883.

The "GOP Young Gun" ran a campaign platform focused on fiscal discipline — harping on the then-$13 trillion national debt, rampant government spending and growth, and the mandates under the Affordable Care Act that conservatives saw as anything but affordable. Mulvaney wasn't so different from many of his freshman contemporaries, who sought to scale back a Washington that was, as they saw it, spending out of control, if not spending itself out of existence, and burdening future generations with impossible promises.

Fast forward to 2017. The national debt has surpassed $20 trillion. The country's budget has seen nothing but deficits for the last two decades. Spending has only gone up, even under a GOP-run Congress. And arguably, Republicans — who control the White House, Senate, and House — don't seem terribly concerned.

Mulvaney, now the director of the Office of Management and Budget after six years of establishing a reputation as a fiscal hawk in Congress, now says that "we need new deficits." The reason he's saying that is that the tax plan, which is a top priority for the president and Republicans in Congress would likely add about $1.5 trillion to the national debt over a decade. GOP lawmakers aim to pass legislation on taxes before Christmas.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told CBS News' "Face the Nation" earlier this month that reducing government spending is "not an issue we're focused on right now." Mr. Trump cares about the debt, Mnuchin says, but he's focused now on economic growth through tax cuts.

We get the need for tax reform -- and we support efforts that get the government's grasping hand out of your wallet. But unlike others, we have not forgotten that DC has always had a profound, and destructive, addiction to spending. 

Congressional Republicans are right to want to put some sense back into the tax code. They have forgotten all about spending. And that forgetfulness will lead to the red ink getting deeper, and the fiscal reckoning even harsher.