Donald Trump is not a conservative, and he wasn’t elected as a conservative. It was funny being called a “RINO” by Trump supporters throughout the campaign and watching as RedState was referred to as “JebState.” All from the people supporting a candidate who was promising policies that harkened back to the age of big government Republicanism.
Nothing changed since Trump was sworn in and his address before a joint session of Congress, he laid out an agenda that contained some conservative elements such as the repeal of Obamacare (but continues to say he wants to replace it) and tax reform. Our tax system is in desperate need of reform, and I hope he is willing to fight to get it passed.
That said, what disturbed me more than anything were the standing ovations given by conservative members of Congress, including Speaker Paul Ryan, for Trump’s proposed taxpayer-funded boondoggles. For those of us who remember, we saw what happened the last time there was a Republican in office and Republicans controlled the purse strings. They were more than willing to let the spending dollars flow on things like ‘No Child Left Behind’ and Medicare Part D. It was George W. Bush signing on to bailouts of AIG, TARP and auto bailouts that got the ball rolling on the Tea Party movement. It was Obama’s pork-laden stimulus bill that broke the camel’s back.
Now I fear we are witnessing history about to repeat itself.
Just start with Donald Trump’s beautiful wall he wants to build along the border of Mexico. The Mexican government told him to take a hike on paying for it, and he knows they won’t. The GOP knows they won’t so they’ve started drafting legislation to finance the construction that initially stands at $15 billion. The pages of RedState can be filled with examples of spending proposals that cost far more than originally estimated, so the $15 billion is a baseline, not a total figure. When asked if the expense of the construction of the wall would be offset by budget cuts elsewhere, Speaker Ryan said on more than one occasion, “We’ll see.”
It doesn’t fill me with optimism. Going back to Trump’s speech, there was the talk of $1 trillion in infrastructure spending. There was applause from all sides on that one. Why? It’s true the federal government has some role to play with the nation’s infrastructure including highways, railroads, bridges and tunnels. But what is to stop legislators from loading up this infrastructure bill with pork-barrel projects just as was done with Obama’s stimulus package? On that, Paul Ryan once again spoke about it strongly:
“We are fiscal conservatives,” he said. “If we’re going to be spending on things like say, infrastructure, we’re going to find the fiscal space to pay for that in our spring budget. And so those are the things we’re planning on doing.”
That sounds great, but where are they going to erase $1 trillion from the spring budget to allow for Trump’s infrastructure proposal?
The most offensive line of applause for Trump by Republicans was for his idea of paid family leave. Conservative Republicans were opposed to President Clinton’s Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, saying the federal government had no role in telling private business to allow people to take long stretches of time off (up to 3 months) without losing their jobs.
It was for unpaid leave.
Now, President Trump is going down the road where these same companies will be forced to pay people to take off for up to three months. It is an idea that is straight out of the Bernie Sanders’ Rules for Government Handbook. No Republican had any business applauding such a dumb idea, let alone conservative Republicans.
In his 1996 State of the Union Address, Bill Clinton of all people said, “The era of big government is over.” He was wrong. It was just getting started and if Donald Trump has his way, the era of big government will come roaring back under Republican leadership and the country will be worse off for it.