If you’re a conservative voter who believes the federal government ought to spend within its means and pass balanced budgets, the Republican party is insulting your intelligence.
Fresh off of passing a 2,232-page monstrosity of an omnibus bill that spent $1.3 trillion, House Republicans now say they want to take up a balanced budget amendment (BBA) when they return from recess. For years now, fiscal conservatives have pushed adopting a BBA in the Constitution to rein in Congress’ appetite for deficit spending and force real cuts to end the growth of the national debt. The Republican Party, supposedly the party of fiscal conservatism, has paid lip-service to this amendment on the campaign trail for years.
But do not celebrate a vote on the balanced budget amendment in Congress. Do not be fooled by this sudden rediscovered love for fiscal conservatism. A House vote on the amendment would be nothing more than a show vote, meant to cover the butts of lawmakers who irresponsibly advanced the largest spending increase in American history despite full Republican control of the government.
As Congressman Thomas Massie, R-Ky., predicted in his recent interview with Conservative Review, Republicans in Congress are about to engage in a series of “pretend votes” to virtue-signal their conservatism ahead of the 2018 midterm elections without actually accomplishing anything.
Here’s what Massie told CR:
Absolutely nothing good will happen between now and the election. And the most that you can hope for is that nothing will happen. All the conservatives are terrified of their own shadow; they will not put a conservative bill on the floor that has a chance of getting a vote in the Senate. Don’t get me wrong, we’re going to have a lot of great pretend votes.
In fact, our leadership told us in the conference, “Well, once we get [the omnibus] behind us, this is the only piece of must-pass legislation, then we can do all those things you all want to do.” Now, there’s some cognitive dissonance in that statement, that this is the only piece of must-pass legislation; now we can do all the stuff you want to do.
I took that to mean, “Now we’re going to pass a whole pile of pretend bills, and you all can put your name on it if you’ve been a good little soldier and never voted against one of these rules. We’ll get you a bill on the floor with your name on it, and it’s going to pass, we know it’s not going anywhere in the Senate, and you can go home with that bill and say, ‘I got this passed in our chamber.’”
A vote on the balanced budget amendment would be one of those “pretend votes.” A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress to pass and be submitted to the states for ratification. That means 290 representatives in the House (Republicans have 238 members) and 67 senators (Republicans have 51) would need to vote yes before it’s sent to the states for ratification, and 38 states would need to ratify the amendment before it could be added to the Constitution.
That is not going to happen.
So what’s really going on here is that after fundamentally betraying conservatives in the omnibus bill, Republican leadership figures they have to pretend like they’re fighting for conservative principles so that GOP voters show up in November and they can keep their majorities. They’ll vote on the balanced budget amendment, it will fail, and they’ll turn to you and say, “See, we need more Republicans up here in the swamp; otherwise, we’ll never get the things you want done. There are just too many Democrats.”
Don’t believe this crap. It would be one thing if Republicans were consistently messaging that massive government spending is a problem and they are the party equipped to solve it. A balanced budget amendment is a great idea, a necessary restraint on Congress to curb spending. But if they were actually serious about cutting spending, Republicans would be fighting to cut spending at every opportunity and then taking the case for the balanced budget amendment to the American people.
That is not what they did. A majority of Republicans just voted for an additional $1.3 trillion in spending that funded Democrat priorities, like Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities, and did not fund President Trump’s priorities, like a border wall.
When their votes mattered, Republicans increased government spending and the budget deficit. Now that their votes don’t matter, they’re talking about a balanced budget amendment.
Republican leadership and the rank-and-file members who voted for the omnibus need to be held accountable for this disgusting hypocrisy.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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