GOP Should Slam on the Brakes

December 16, 2010

Conservatism and responsible government won a resounding victory in November’s elections, and yet just a month later, we’re witnessing legislative arrogance on a scale you wouldn’t expect if voters had ratified the ruling class’ sprint toward national bankruptcy. Can you imagine how it would be acting if it hadn’t received a “shellacking”?

It seems that Washington is embracing all the principles and practices the voters soundly rejected, without the slightest indication it either received the message or cares. Are we seeing any evidence of greater transparency, a rejection of earmarks, budgetary restraint or legislative deliberation?

To me, it looks more like defiance from lame-duck Beltway elites who have again created a false climate of urgency to pressure disunited and disorganized opponents to make damaging concessions that are not worth what they’re receiving in return.

There is no real urgency here, and those saying otherwise are crying wolf. This is the first Congress in the history of the budget process that failed even to vote on a budget for the next year. They’ve known all along this moment was coming.

On the omnibus spending bill, they can still pass a continuing resolution for another three months and avert a government shutdown. There is no excuse for them to be legislating from the political grave a full year beyond the date congressional control changes hands. It’s outrageous they would even try it, and it’s discouraging that Republicans are considering being rolled like this.

This bill violates every conceivable mandate the voters issued in November, including a bill too long and complex even to read, let alone digest, in this artificially accelerated time frame. It contains almost 7,000 earmarks, totaling some $8 billion, and includes egregious new spending provisions that constitute another monumental slap in the face to an electorate that emphatically said “no” to further deficit spending.

And it’s not just the spending bill. Just consider the other important bills they are also trying to shove through in crisis mode, which has now been firmly established as the default legislative mode. We’re told they have to pass the following measures in the next few days, lest the world come to an end:

–A so-called tax bill full of extraneous provisions that is being marketed as a tax cut for the wealthy when it is not a cut at all, but an extension of existing rates, and is not just for the “wealthy” (who aren’t all wealthy), but for all income groups. Not being a “cut,” but a continuation of existing rates, it would not “cost” a dime. But if the linguistic distorters insist on saying it would “cost,” then they must acknowledge that the bulk of the cost would come from continuing the rates for all other income groups, a fact that’s too inconvenient for the left to concede because it doesn’t fit their template of demonizing the “wealthy.” Plus, the rate extensions would only continue for two years, injecting great uncertainty into an already unstable economy and working against entrepreneurial investment and economic growth. The bill also would reinstate the estate tax and further extend unemployment benefits in the name of compassion, with no one making the case that it’s not

compassionate to implement policies that do more harm than good by exacerbating unemployment and retarding economic growth.

–An enormously important arms deal with the Russians known as New START, which they’re trying to rush through without full and thorough hearings. Despite support for the treaty, many troubling issues remain, such as verifiability and implications for conventional warfare. Also, the dangerously volatile North Korean and Iranian regimes are not affected, and there is ambiguity over the treaty’s language concerning missile defense. There are discrepancies between the administration’s and Russia’s interpretations, and the administration refuses to clear those up by releasing its negotiating records. Some have pointed out that the proposed treaty is a product of this administration’s fundamentally flawed approach to arms control, in that it is based on the goal of global nuclear disarmament when even the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States says the global elimination of nukes is not presently possible.

–Congress is also trying to cram through the DREAM Act, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and other controversial measures with far-reaching consequences.

This is no way to conduct the nation’s business — ever — but especially not when the overwhelming majority of the people sent a clear signal they’d had enough of such recklessness. Those who fear backlash to the GOP from another perceived GOP-caused government shutdown are misreading the electorate’s mood.

This process is out of control, and it’s time for Republicans to slam on the brakes. Now. Enough is enough.