I was once an elected Republican. There isn't much that the Republican Party has to do with trash collection, but I was a Republican on the Macon, Georgia City Council and I supported trash collection privatization. It wasn't the Republican thing to do. It was the conservative thing to do. It was the right thing to do. Multiple times it had been tried and multiple times it had saved taxpayer dollars.
There aren't a lot of Republican positions at the local level. There aren't a lot of Democrat positions at the local level. There are conservative and liberal positions. There are positions that believe the private sector can do better and positions that believe the public sector can do better.
In Congress, there used to be clear and distinct Republican and Democrat positions. But in the past decade, about the only thing separating the GOP from the Democrats is the rate of spending. Republicans spend less, but they still spend a lot. Oh, and they love babies in utero.
Republicans used to believe in free enterprise, the private sector, and low taxes. They believed in getting government the heck out of the way. They still talk like that, but they don't seem to actually be operating like that. Senate and House Republicans seem to be in a bidding war to increase revenue in Washington. What's worse, they are mendacious enough to call it "increasing revenue" instead of "tax increases," when it amounts to the same thing. The Republican Party of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have taken a party that once believed in starving the beast and transforming it into a party that believes in feeding the leviathan lest the leviathan consume them. They operate out of fear — fear of losing their remaining power, fear of blame, and fear of the unknown.
I am absolutely in favor of simplifying the tax code. I am absolutely in favor of getting rid of loopholes. But I am absolutely opposed to engaging in machinations of the tax code designed to increase spending through closed loopholes and the like. Increased revenue should come through simplifying Washington to spur economic growth. Get Washington out of our lives.
While the Republican Party in Washington says that, it sure seems not to be living up to that. Consider this so called fiscal cliff.
The fiscal cliff is actually a bipartisan compromise that congress critters and their friends in the press have now given a spooky name to scare the American people lest Washington have to take the medicine it prescribed itself. The Republicans were complicit in this arrangement.
Republicans and Democrats punted and punted on the Bush tax cuts and they arranged a debt ceiling increase that would, should a committee designed to fail actually fail, force draconian cuts that both sides could scream about and demand be rejected. So Washington would get a debt ceiling increase, but would not actually have to suffer the pain of cuts. Republicans and Democrats collaborated to design a medicine so vile they could ask the public's forgiveness if they chose not to take it and design a more sugary medicine instead.
But one way or the other, the medicine must now be taken.
Over the past three years the Republican-controlled Congress has approved discretionary spending that exceeded Bill Clinton's requests by more than $30 billion. The party that in 1994 would abolish the Department of Education now brags in response to Clinton's 2000 State of the Union Address that it is outspending the White House when it comes to education. My colleagues Stephen Moore and Stephen Slivinski found that the combined budgets of the 95 major programs that the Contract with America promised to eliminate have increased by 13%.
So what the heck does the GOP actually stand for? Right now, they seem to want to be the "responsible" party, but know they're going to get blamed for whatever happens. They are scared of their own shadow. They are caving, but to what?
I couldn't tell you. I have no idea what John Boehner and Mitch McConnell's Republican Party stands for other than the acquisition and maintenance of their own power. They're Bob Michel without the charm willing to take scraps from the Democrats' table so long as they can sit on the floor next to it. Their own plans are designed around tactics, not strategy, and tactics designed to avoid as much blame as possible for a mess they were complicit in creating.
I can't tell you what they stand for anymore.
So as for me and this site, we're going to continue on with the conservative convictions of the party of Calvin Coolidge — not Reagan. Everybody claims Reagan these days. He has become an idol for the party. Everybody claims him and few even really know much about him any more. While we love Reagan, we will go with Calvin Coolidge who said, "Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." We press on.
He also said, "Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." Today, it seems the GOP is willing to pull down the strong so they don't get blamed by the weak. They're going to get blamed anyway. They might as well fight.
But first, they should step out of the way and let the bipartisan compromises all happen. Let them. Let the spending be cut. Let the Democrats raise taxes. Then negotiate for better. As long as the so called fiscal cliff looms the GOP operates from a position of fear, which is a terrible position from which to negotiate.
In short, the GOP should do now what it should have done back in 2011 — shoot the hostage.