Guest Editorial: US Senate GOP anything but fiscally conservative

Farmington Daily Times
Guest Editorial

On May 17, the United States Senate overwhelmingly rejected a plan from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, to balance the federal budget.

The proposal, which called for balancing the budget over the next five years by cutting spending by $13 trillion over the next decade, was voted down with only 21 votes in favor and 76 opposed.

Paul took to Twitter to argue that Democrats and Republicans have made “an unholy alliance” to ramp up spending on each others desired priorities, with Republicans always clamoring for more military spending and Democrats more welfare spending.

With the United States national debt now above $21 trillion, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projecting trillion dollar-plus annual deficits over the next decade, it certainly seems that way.

For all of their limited government and fiscally conservative rhetoric, the Republican-controlled Congress has, to date, been anything but fiscally responsible. They have on the whole been revealed to be merely tax-cut-and-spend Republicans who want to take credit for reducing federal revenues with tax cuts while doing nothing to contain spending on the other side of things.

With the CBO projecting deficits as high as $1.5 trillion a year over the next decade, even after assuming continued economic growth, it should be apparent to anyone with an elementary understanding of how math and finance works that something has to be done to alter this trajectory.

But with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s inability to get any traction on entitlement reform even among fellow Republicans and general unwillingness on the part of congressional leadership to scale back America’s perpetual wars abroad, it’s hard to see anything meaningful being done on this front.

For instance, while Congress should be talking about ending our failed nation-building exercise in Afghanistan, which now costs at least $45 billion a year to continue, Republican leaders prefer to tinker at the margins.

Instead of taking on the big problems, instead of taking seriously their talk of free markets and limited government, the latest iteration of the farm bill was just another pork-filled, expensive giveaway to wealthy farmers on one end and a continuation of the costly food stamp program on the other.

Consistent with their preference for taking on politically easy reforms, congressional Republicans seem inclined to back mandating job training for food stamp recipients partly in the name of saving money. But as the Cato Institute has pointed out, most of the savings from that move ends up being offset by billions of dollars in spending needed to then pay for that job training.

Either Republicans actually believe their rhetoric on free markets, limited government and fiscal responsibility or they don’t. At this point, it’s clear the GOP will continue to be unable to live up to its rhetoric and actually limit the far reach and big spending of the federal government.

That’s a state of affairs that has to be corrected. It is a shame that those principles have been sullied by the political cowardice of the Republican leadership.

Orange County Register, May 23