Calling Out the GOP’s ‘Surrender Congress’

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet in the United States – especially if you’re a member of the shrinking American middle class.

As median household incomes continue their decline (down 1.5 percent from last year and 7.2 percent from their 1999 peak), the opportunity to thrive has given way to a pervasive pressure just to survive.

Millions of Americans who should be driving real economic growth – investing, innovating and creating new jobs – are instead struggling just to keep their heads above water.

One personal financial expert recently calculated that for a family of four to live comfortably after paying a mortgage, addressing rising health care bills and setting aside enough for retirement and college tuition – they would need to earn around $100,000 a year. That’s roughly twice the current median household income.

No wonder the consumer economy is struggling!

Yet as the American dream becomes increasingly elusive or outright unattainable – government in Washington, D.C. grows more invasive and unsustainable. In fact its mindless growth is compounding our economic malaise. As of this writing, the national debt has soared to more than $18.5 trillion (roughly $155,000 per taxpayer), entitlements are on the verge of insolvency, 94.5 million working age Americans aren’t in the labor force and economic growth hasn’t hit the three percent threshold in ten years.

Everyone knows government is the problem – in fact they’ve known it for decades. They’re just not doing anything about it.

On September 23, 2010, then-U.S. Rep. John Boehner and a group of House Republicans ventured from their Capitol Hill offices to the Tart Lumber Company in Sterling, Virginia – a Washington, D.C. suburb. There, in response to mounting public frustration, they vowed to pursue “a new way forward that hasn’t been tried in Washington: An approach focused on cutting spending instead of accelerating spending, and eliminating uncertainty for the private-sector innovators and entrepreneurs who create jobs.”

“Across America, the people see a government in Washington that isn’t listening, doesn’t get it, and doesn’t care,” Boehner said in unveiling his party’s so-called Pledge To America.

Boehner’s eventual successor as Speaker – U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin – noted at the time that the GOP document wasn’t meant merely as a contrast to profligate spending of the administration of Barack Obama.

“It’s a contrast to the way we conducted ourselves a decade ago,” he acknowledged.  “We spent too much money.  We lost our way.”

In bold, declarative language, the pledge vowed to turn off the bipartisan special interest spigot. Its signatories also vowed to reassert the Article I authority of the U.S. Congress – and to reform the legislative branch to make it more responsive to the people.

“An unchecked executive, a compliant legislature, and an overreaching judiciary have combined to thwart the will of the people and overturn their votes and their values, striking down longstanding laws and institutions and scorning the deepest beliefs of the American people,” the document stated.  “Like free peoples of the past, our citizens refuse to accommodate a government that believes it can replace the will of the people with its own.”

Unfortunately, after taking control of the House in 2011 (and the U.S. Senate in 2015), Republicans have done nothing but accommodate. They’ve caved on the debt ceiling, on the budget, on Obamacare, Obamatrade, on immigration, on Planned Parenthood – on everything.

Far from reasserting their authority and reining in spending – they have engaged in chronic capitulation, most recently approving a reckless two-year budget plan.

“I’m not one to use the term ‘surrender’ loosely,” columnist Philip Klein wrote in response to the latest ‘bipartisan’ budget deal. “But … this is what Republican surrender looks like.”

Indeed. And we’ve seen enough.

Dozens of committed conservative leaders across the country are joining this month to launch “White Flag Congress.” This project will expose the culture of surrender in the GOP-controlled House and Senate – and encourage candidates willing to challenge the capitulators.

Here is our pledge to Republicans: If you are going to continue selling us out, we are going to start calling you out by name – and actively working against you in your districts.

Ed Martin is the President of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum.