Hayward: Who Needs the ‘Resistance’ When You’ve Got the GOP Writing the Budget?

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Why does the left bother with “Resistance” theatrics when the Republican Congress funds their entire wish list anyway?

That’s a bit of a trick question because the left still plans to seize more power and money by recapturing Congress and the White House. They’ll never stop attacking the legitimacy of the Trump administration. The only lingering mystery is why so many Republicans think they can counter this strategy by appeasing Democrats.

At a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars in other people’s money, Republicans purchase a couple of sound bites that allow them to claim they aren’t heartless monsters because they funded every left-wing priority, from “sanctuary cities” to Planned Parenthood.

In reality, these capitulations don’t win Republicans anything. Democrats will still depict them as tightwads on welfare spending, reactionaries on social policy, and footmen to the evil rich. As soon as the Republican “leaders” who meekly funded 100 percent of the Democrat agenda for 2017 object to 20, 30, or 50 percent increases in that agenda, they will be denounced as greedy pigs who want poor people to die.

We won’t even have to wait that long because Democrats are already cranking up the class-warfare machine to defeat Trump’s tax reform proposals. How can any GOP leader be dense enough to think that caving to the Democrats on spending will secure their cooperation, or even slightly mute their objections, for dramatic pro-growth tax reform?

Indeed, the flabby bulk of these trillion-dollar spending deals will be used as an argument against tax cuts. How can Republicans propose cutting taxes after they just agreed to finance the entire Democrat wish list? Tax cuts are the one thing we’re told we can never, ever “afford.”

The GOP appears to have given up on even the minimal fiscal responsibility of serious budgeting. From here on in, we’ll have nothing but bloated omnibus spending bills, crammed with pork and passed in a feverish haze of shutdown panic. You’d risk shutting down the government for cuts to Planned Parenthood, green energy programs, or the EPA? You maniac!

You can vote for Trump presidencies all you want, peons, but the GOP leadership has conceded that Democrats hold the ultimate budgetary trump card. It’s an article of Republican faith that they will lose any and all budget battles, no matter the size of the GOP majority, because in the final hours Democrats will simply shrug and say, “Give us what we want, or we’ll shut the government down and you’ll be blamed for it.”

The Democrats are so confident of their eternal whip hand in budget disputes that they openly threatened to shut the government down if their demands were not granted this time around, without bothering to conceal the threat at all. They know Republicans believe they will be held responsible for any such crisis. It doesn’t matter how many red-ink-stained Democrat fingers are on the shutdown. It wouldn’t matter if Democrat senators and representatives were caught on video running around Washington and pulling the plugs out of government computers. Terrified Republican leaders are convinced the media will never, ever frame the crisis as “Democrats Shut Down Federal Government to Protect Illegal Alien Criminals.”

The GOP Establishment just emerged from a presidential primary in which Donald Trump bulldozed a huge field of top-shelf Republican contenders, in no small part because the public was furious with Republican inability to make progress on a conservative agenda despite holding both House and Senate. They seem to have learned nothing from the experience.

The GOP promised that if voters gave them the Senate in 2014 – an outcome deemed extremely unlikely going into the election cycle – they would march over former Majority Leader Harry Reid’s political grave and get things done at last.

That didn’t happen. We were told the power of President Obama’s veto pen was unbeatable. But Obama didn’t even have to use that pen, because the revolutionary new GOP Congress immediately set about giving the Democrat minority near-total control over the budget. The first item on the Republican leadership agenda in 2015 was sidelining every young Republican representative who took all that balanced-budget limited-government stuff seriously. By the end of the year, Democrats were crowing that House Speaker Paul Ryan and his allies “gave away the store.”

It’s funny how having a Republican president doesn’t slow down Democrat budget priorities a bit, isn’t it? In 2009, Republicans said they were helpless without congressional majorities. In 2010 they won the House, but said they were helpless without the Senate. Then they took the Senate, but said they were helpless without the White House. Democrats today are basically where Republicans were in 2009… but they’re not helpless at all. They’re still writing the budget and treating the GOP leadership like Harry Potter’s house elves. Paul Ryan can only hope that one day Nancy Pelosi will mistakenly give him a sock and set him free.

The winter of Republican triumph in 2014 gave us the horror of the “cromnibus” bill – a complete surrender to the losers of the midterm election. Democrats effectively wrote the first budget after the big GOP midterm triumph. After listing all of the Republican capitulations, including legislative tricks that made it easier for President Obama to shoot down every Republican idea he didn’t like, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote in December 2015 that the only bright spot he could see were “significant” steps toward “repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood.” How significant do those steps look in retrospect?

Angry and disappointed Republican voters sent an unmistakable message by turning to Trump in the GOP primary, even though every Establishment official and well-connected pundit assured them nominating Trump was tantamount to throwing the 2016 election away. The stunning upset of the 2014 midterm was surpassed by the even more stunning election of President Donald Trump in 2016. One hundred days in, the leaders of both party establishments and 90 percent of the punditocracy are still walking around like they use tasers on their temples in the shower every morning.

And the result of all those shocking upsets is… this? A budget bill Barack Obama would cheerfully have signed, assuming he didn’t think he could squeeze a few billion more out of Republicans at the eleventh hour? Voters keep giving the GOP astounding election victories, and they keep responding with the same budget, over and over again.

Nearly everything Trump proposed cutting is funded in full – in many cases with substantial increases? $1.5 billion for border security, but not a nickel for the border wall – the single most concrete, unambiguous promise Trump made, both before and after the election? We were given endless excuses why the congressional “power of the purse” could not be used to thwart Obama’s agenda, but apparently, the Democrat minority can use it to thwart Trump’s with ease.

The big achievement touted by the White House and congressional leaders is increased military spending. “We have boosted resources for our defense needs without corresponding increases in non-defense spending,” Speaker Ryan proclaimed.

Those defense spending increases might be vitally needed, but what Ryan is saying here violates everything he previously stated about the need for fiscal discipline. The only enduring accomplishment of the Budget Control Act of 2011 was modestly restricting federal spending by menacing Republicans with military cuts and Democrats with domestic spending cuts – an Obama idea that was supposed to terrorize Republicans out of insisting on fiscal discipline at all.

Here we are in 2017, and the big “achievement” is that Democrats agreed to let Republicans spend more on the military, while Republicans gave Democrats everything they wanted on domestic spending. Republicans ended up right where Obama wanted them to be all along.

The message sent by this budget betrayal is that elections don’t really matter all that much. The special interests that demand lavish funding from taxpayers will not be denied. Most of the matters we have heated political arguments over are actually beyond debate – the left will be funded no matter how you vote. What’s the point of entering the arena of ideas, to do the hard work of arguing against the abortion lobby, when Planned Parenthood gets its bulging sack of taxpayer cash from a Republican House, Senate, and White House?

Do Republicans have the faintest clue how hollow and insincere their rhetoric sounds when the budgets and resolutions dribble out, and everything they claimed to oppose with passionate fury is fully funded? They’re already reeling from the embarrassing “Obamacare Lite” debacle, after years of vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act at every fundraiser – years of passing repeal bills they knew were doomed, folding them into paper airplanes, and tossing them at the window of Obama’s Oval Office. How often do they think they can get away with fighting for nothing before disgusted voters throw up their hands and walk away forever?


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