Do Republicans Care About the Deficit or Not?
Republicans who seek our support during an election cycle declare emphatically that they will deal with the deficit upon being elected. Once elected, however, they far too often evince nothing but apathy towards efforts to solve our budget crisis. Worse yet, they even work assiduously to create new deficits.
Ever since Republicans won control of the House in 2010, instead of looking for spending cuts to offset existing deficits, they are constantly looking for ways to create new deficits, albeit with the fervent pledge to offset those new deficits. Yesterday, several lawmakers showed us just how indifferent they are to deficit spending.
Commenting on concerns of deficit spending, John Mica, the author of the House highway bill, offered this caviler response: “Honestly I don’t pay that much attention to the financing portion because it’s not mine. But they’ve promised to find ways to fund this and so far they’ve kept their word. It will be done. It will pass. Then I will say Amen.”
Yes, we understand that Mica is Chairman of the Transportation Committee, not Ways and Means or Appropriations. But does he really regard the cost as such an ancillary footnote to the bill that he need not consider it when drafting the underlying bill?
On the Senate side, Politico asked Senator Thune what he thought of their version of the highway bill:
“I think by and large if they want to get an extension of this for two years, rather than doing these short-term extensions, this is probably the best shot we have,” Thune said. Is it your sense the bill will pass? “I think so. I shouldn’t probably say that,” Thune said. “The Finance Committee, if they tweak the offsets a little bit, you know it probably picks up a considerable number of Republicans and I think a lot of Democrats.”
Yeah, let’s just pass this bill, which overspends its revenue source by 43%; we’ll tweak it a little here and there to make up the difference.
We are witnessing the same thing with the extenders package. Let’s put aside the payroll tax cut for a moment. There is an intra-conservative debate over whether this sort of “stimulus” tax cut should require offsets or not. Nevertheless, we all agree that the increased spending on UI and Medicare doc fix should be offset with other spending cuts. The point of cutting the payroll tax loose from the rest of the package was so Republicans can unilaterally pass the payroll tax cut, while refusing to spend more on UI and doc fix unless they are completely offset. Yet, Republicans are agreeing to a conference report that will fill in that 10-month $50 billion deficit with a patchwork of offsets over 10 years. Spend now; pay later.
[As an aside, they are also planning to vote for the conference report tomorrow, a violation of that pesky little pledge to post all legislation 72 hours before consideration on the floor. Because this is a conference report, any such point of order against the bill offered by a conservative will be waived.]
The voters did not elect Republicans to propagate this “spend now, pay later” mentality. They elected Republicans to end this credulous form of governance. If these Republicans will not exercise their mandate, they’ll need to be replaced with a better crop. It’s that simple.
Cross-posted From The Madison Project