Economy & Business

GOP’s Omnibus Bill Should Have Gone off a Cliff

House Speaker Paul Ryan (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)
Republicans began 2018 on a roll, but quickly collapsed.

The Republican party needed just 90 days to tumble from triumph to self-humiliation.

On December 22, President Donald J. Trump signed the $1.5 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the most significant levy reduction since 1986. Even Trump’s critics conceded that Republicans ended 2017 on an unexpectedly high note, with their free-market banners flapping smartly in the tail winds.

But on March 22, the GOP House hosted a drunken orgy of bipartisan fiscal recklessness. The resulting $1.3 trillion omnibus bill should have been steered off a cliff.

The omnibus hiked military outlays by $80 billion. After years of Obama’s Pentagon spending from behind, higher expenditures on weapons and warriors made sense, although the precise amount seemed to be: “More!” To garner Democratic support  for the GOP’s national-security priorities, Republicans co-sponsored Democrats’ social-spending bacchanal:

• A 12.5 percent hike in low-income housing credits

• $145 million for federal apprenticeship subsidies — 53 percent above the $95 million shelled out last year

• $152.8 million each, for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, not the $0 that Trump originally budgeted

• $456 million more for IRS operations than Trump requested

• Beneath the headline “Progressive Policy Wins in the Omnibus,” a Center for American Progress article gushes: “The bill includes an unprecedented increase in federal child care funding, expanding current discretionary resources by 80 percent for a total of $5 billion in 2018.”

• The omnibus finances fugitive cities that harbor violent illegal-alien criminals.

Conversely, this bill prohibits funds for President Trump’s border-wall prototypes. They now languish in the San Diego desert, awaiting the cash to shield the southern frontier.

Even worse, this legislative Godzilla was conceived much as Republicans decried the creation of Obamacare — absent the promises of “quality, affordable health care.” Top GOP and Democratic leaders huddled behind sealed doors and drafted it with virtually zero input from mere members of Congress. They then dragged this unread, nine-inch-high, 2,232-page monstrosity to a vote 17 hours later, not in three days, as House rules require.

The Senate soon followed, and after an encouraging-but-fleeting threat to veto this calamity for its lack of border-wall funds, a previously disengaged President Trump approved it anyway. “I will never sign another bill like this again,” Trump said March 23. “I was thinking about doing the veto. But because of the incredible gains that we’ve been able to make for the military, that overrode any of our thinking.”

This GOP epic fail was totally unnecessary.

Republicans began 2018 on a roll. Their tax cuts gained popularity as 468 companies, to date, started to share their savings with some 4 million employees via bonuses and increased wages, benefits, and business-development investments. The Schumer Shutdown soon detonated in Democrats’ faces like an exploding cigar. What the Associated Press called “the strongest nine-month stretch of growth in a dozen years,” plus rising corporate and consumer confidence, confirmed GOP economic prowess.

This GOP epic fail was totally unnecessary.

Republicans then pitched these advantages into the garbage.

February’s budget deal erupted some $300 billion above previous spending caps and hiked outlays 14 percent — seven times last year’s 2.1 percent inflation rate. Last week’s omnibus then smothered any remaining Republican claim on its signature issue.

What happened?

House speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky cannot trade horses. Had they negotiated the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, Americans would traverse the left side of the road, call senators “lords,” and bow before King Donald I.

Yes, Republicans hold a precarious 51-seat Senate majority. Until they scrap the filibuster, Democrats will hold inordinate sway in that legislative chamber. Still, Ryan and McConnell should have demanded:

• Immediate border-wall funds in exchange for legalizing 800,000 DACA recipients.

• Subsidies that finance state-level women’s health programs, rather than Planned Parenthood. Abortion-funding decisions should shift from Washington to America’s state capitals.

• Domestic-spending hikes, if any, no higher than inflation.

• Private-sector audits for every federal agency, complete with recommendations for reform or repeal.

• An agreement from Democrats to debate each presidential nomination for three hours, maximum (not a crippling 30), and drop endless “holds” on nominees that bar key people from crucial duties, such as Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D., Ore.) freeze on Richard Grenell, U.S. ambassador-designate to Germany.

Had Democrats spurned these modest proposals, Republicans should have blamed them for closing the government on March 23. Had Republicans collectively scraped together three vertebrae, they could have crushed “Schumer Shutdown: The Sequel.” Instead, Republicans collapsed like jellyfish.

Thus, the GOP has flushed fiscal conservatism into the sea. Its leaders no longer can advocate limited government without inspiring sneers. And all because they didn’t even try.

Trump-hating Democrats will crawl chin-first over lava to reach the polls and punish their anti-Christ.

As for November’s midterm elections, Trump-hating Democrats will crawl chin-first over lava to reach the polls and punish their anti-Christ. Republicans will require equal fervor to counteract the Left’s infinite rage and impressive talent for showing up — as last week’s March for Our Lives gun-control extravaganza demonstrated, yet again.

The GOP will lose its tenuous grip on Congress if it makes its loyalists hurl into buckets. Deep down, one wonders, do Washington Republicans really want to keep control?

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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