Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

When existing spending authority expires on March 4, the “non-essential” parts of the federal government will shut down unless Republicans and Democrats reach an agreement. This is causing lots of agitation in Washington, both by Democrats who don’t want the money spigots in the off position and Republicans who fret that they will be blamed for (gasp) gridlock.

I have a new piece at National Review that explains how the GOP can win this fight. Indeed, I explain that Republicans actually did a pretty good job during the 1995 fight, even though they now have negative memories of the experience. This excerpt provides my basic assessment, but the full article has lots of additional information, including quotes from news accounts in 1995 showing that the GOP held the upper hand, as well as four specific recommendation of how advocates of limited government can do even better this year.

With the GOP-led House and the Democratic Senate and White House far apart on a measure to pay the federal government’s bills past March 4, Washington is rumbling toward a repeat of the 1995 government-shutdown fight (actually two shutdown fights, one in mid-November of that year and the other in mid-December).

This makes some Republicans nervous. They think Bill Clinton “won” the blame game that year, and they’re afraid they will get the short end of the stick if there is a 1995-type impasse this year.

A timid approach, though, is a recipe for failure. It means that President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can sit on their hands, make zero concessions, and wait for the GOP to surrender any time a deadline approaches.

In other words, budget hawks in the House have no choice. They have to fight.

But they can take comfort in the fact that this is not a suicide mission. The conventional wisdom about what happened in November of 1995 is very misleading.

Republicans certainly did not suffer at the polls. They lost only nine House seats, a relatively trivial number after a net gain of 54 in 1994. They actually added to their majority in the Senate, picking up two seats in the 1996 cycle.

More important, they succeeded in dramatically reducing the growth of federal spending. They did not get everything they wanted, to be sure, but government spending grew by just 2.9 percent during the first four years of GOP control, helping to turn a $164 billion deficit in 1995 into a $126 billion surplus in 1999. And they enacted a big tax cut in 1997.

If that’s what happens when Republicans are defeated, I hope the GOP loses again this year.

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I am pleasantly stunned that GOP leaders have increased the level of cuts in the bill that will fund the government for the final seven months of fiscal year 2011. Kudos to the freshman members, the Tea Party, and the conservatives who have led the charge and achieved so much. They certainly exceeded my expectations. Here’s the good news from the Washington Post.

Republicans, who control the House, yielded to calls from their conservative wing and roughly doubled the size of spending cuts to be considered next week as part of a resolution to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011. They offered a real cut in spending of almost $61 billion. But, more important to conservatives, the reductions amount to $100 billion less than President Obama’s 2011 budget called for. The budget was never enacted. …”It’s not about demands; it’s about us standing up on some principles and letting [people] know that we support them,” said Rep. Allen B. West (Fla.), an outspoken member of the new freshman class. West will give the keynote speech Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s conference. The package of spending cuts is the largest since just after World War II… The legislation would eliminate more than $121 million in funding inside the White House, including money for the so-called health-care czar and climate-change czar. And it would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s annual budget by almost 30 percent. Republicans proposed earlier this week to eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and AmeriCorps. …The House expects to begin debate on the bill Tuesday and to set up a final vote by the end of the week.

I’m particularly happy to see that my election-night buddy, Cong. Allen West, continues to be a strong leader on these issues.

But let’s not rest on our laurels (I’m not even sure what laurels are, but hopefully they’re not too comfortable since there’s a lot more work to be done). This legislation presumably will be approved by the House, notwithstanding a few big-government Republicans. But we know that Harry Reid and the Senate are a big obstacle, and President Obama surely won’t approve anything to reduce the burden of government.

So does this mean a government shutdown? Under current law, funding for the government runs out on March 4. If there’s not an agreement by that time, this will mean a high-stakes battle very reminiscent of the battle between congressional Republicans and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. Republicans feel they got out-maneuvered in that conflict, so they may be a bit gun-shy if the same fight occurs this year.

And let’s not forget that a similar dynamic will exist later this year on the vote to increase the debt limit. Republicans will be very reluctant to give the government more borrowing authority without getting something in exchange. But if Democrats are obstinate, that sets up another game of brinksmanship.

Having been very involved in those battles in 1995 and 1996, I’ll soon have more to say about how fiscal conservatives can win these government shutdown battles.

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This is the type of story that makes me sick to my stomach. I’ve already commented on how I don’t like redistribution from rich to poor, but I really, really hate redistribution from poor to rich. And that’s exactly what happens when taxpayers subsidize the presidential nominating conventions of the two big political parties.

Republicans claim to be on the side of taxpayers, but read this story from the Tampa newspaper to get a flavor for how the Republican National Committee was wasting our money.

They rented an exclusive waterfront mansion, wined and dined at five-star restaurants and hired family members and friends, all on the taxpayers’ dime. …Recently filed Federal Election Commission records show that Steele’s convention team, which was headed by Belinda Cook, his long-time personal assistant, spent most of a $1 million line of credit to the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements. That loan was backed by $16 million in federal funds the committee will receive for convention security next year. …Since the 1970s, the federal government has subsidized both the Republican and Democratic party conventions as part of the public financing program for presidential campaigns. Parties can use the money for any legitimate political expenses.

Political conventions are largely four-day parties for political hacks and lobbyists. And even if they were serious affairs, taxpayers should not be subsidizing private political organizations. Republicans and Democrats should be able to nominate candidates without reaching into my wallet…or your wallet.

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House Republicans will read the Constitution today, out loud, on the floor of the House of Representatives. I’m guessing this is how some politicians will react. More accurately, this is how they would react if the Supreme Court actually upheld the Founding Fathers’ vision of the Constitution.

I think I see Henry Waxman and Barney Frank in this video.

I’ll resist the temptation to say who is represented by the person in this video.

To be fair, most Republicans would be equally horrified if the Constitution was properly interpreted. After all, the Founding Fathers are probably still rolling in their graves at what GOPers did when they were last in power. The no-bureaucrat-left-behind education bill, the corrupt farm bills, the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, the pork-filled transportation bills, Sarbanes-Oxley, the TARP bailout, etc, etc.

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