Rumblings From The Base

I have written at length about my disgust for the irresponsible spending undertaken by the current administration and the ‘faux’ fiscal conservatives in the House and Senate, so I am glad that Adam at Red State is equally disgusted:

On Friday, the Senate passed a slew of major bills. Looking specificially at the Transportation Bill and Energy Bill it is clear that despite the well-earned reputation of fiscal conservatism, Republicans seem determined to match or surpass the 1960-1980s Democrats on pork barrel politics. In the Senate, the Transportation Bill and the Energy Bill passed by lopsided votes of 91-4 and 76-24. The only silver lining, if it can be called that, is that Democrats generally joined in on the pork barreling thus giving up the chance of winning over good government, anti-pork moderates that put Republicans in power in the 1994 revolution.

Insert Pogo quip.

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21 replies
  1. 1
    demimondian says:

    [D]espite the well-earned reputation of fiscal conservatism, Republicans

    <snark>Wow, John — and here I thought you lived in the United States. Our Republicans sure don’t have a reputation for fiscal conservatism; they’ve been borrow-and-spendtrifts for the past fifty years.</snark>

    Think about Reagan’s borrow and squander fiscal policies. Bush I got thrown out of office by the theocrats because he raised taxes to partly balance the budget. Clinton was broadly attacked by the Republican party for raising taxes to successfully balance the budget. Nixon and Ford triggered a ten-year-long bout of hyperinflation through their machinations of the Vietnam war economy.

  2. 2
    demimondian says:

    Hey, John — wordpress strips HTML entities! My first paragraph was wrapped in “snark” tags, but they got stripped.

    Is that by design?

  3. 3
    Stormy70 says:

    There is no such thing as fiscal discipline in the Congress, all their words saying differently are just smoke being blown up our asses. McCain I still despise. At least Cornyn voted against the pork pie known as the highway bill.

  4. 4
    Bernard Yomtov says:

    I’m with demimondian.

    “Well-earned reputation of fiscal conservatism?” Utter nonsense.

    I think you’ve been swallowing the rhetoric and ignoring the facts.

  5. 5
    John Cole says:

    No Demi- I had a formatting problem in the initial post, and it screwqed up everything that followed.

    BTW- The words you object to were his, not mine, although the 1994 takeover and the subsequent years while Clinton was President, Congress was dominated with Republicans who were concerened with fiscal responsibility. Clinton didn’t balance those budgets on his own. Folks like Kasich, etc., ruled the day.

  6. 6
    eileen from OH says:

    Clinton didn’t balance those budgets on his own. Folks like Kasich, etc., ruled the day.

    Which is a great argument for not having one party control both the executive and legislative branches.

    eileen from OH

  7. 7
    demimondian says:

    [After the] 1994 takeover and the subsequent years while Clinton was President, Congress was dominated with Republicans who were concerened with fiscal responsibility. Clinton didn’t balance those budgets on his own.

    Well, actually, he did. In fact, Al Gore was forced to cast the (incredibly unpopular) tie-breaker in the Senate. Frau Doktor Docktor Demimondian and I stayed up late to watch the vote. In fact, I believe that the 1994 takeover was largely caused by the Clinton tax increases — the Republicans actually ran against them.

  8. 8
    John Cole says:

    Here.

    I appreciate cults of mythology as much as anyone, but Clinton did not do everything himself.

  9. 9
    Miller says:

    Where is the leadership? The 50-equal-states nature of the Senate rarely encourages fiscal responsibility. Can we look to the House for leadership as we did in the late 1990’s? … not likely with Tom Delay as the all-powerful House Majority Leader and arbitrator of pork. So we must look to the White House, where the President only threatens to use the veto but has yet learned how to exercise it.

  10. 10
    demimondian says:

    The Concord Coalition page you cite only reaches back to 1995.

    In fact, the Republican minority in the Congress voted as a bloc against the 1993 tax increases, planning to run against them in 1994, as they, in fact, did. It took a huge amount of Presidential arm-twisting to get the votes together in the House. (In addition, it’s worth pointing out that one of the first three bills passed by the 103rd Congress was a repeal of a part of the 93 package, which increased the deficit. What “fiscal conservatism” is this?)

    No, John, I’m sorry, but the conventional tale is simply a fraud. The Republican party is the party of low taxes and excessive spending, and has been so for half a century. Bizarre as it sounds, it’s been the Democrats who’ve been the party of fiscal conservatism. It’s one of the shameful lapses of the MSM that the facts have been lost in a propaganda fog, but,

  11. 11
    John Cole says:

    It must be convenient to forget who controlled congress for most of the 1980’s, or who reneged on the spending cuts after the 1990 Darman/Mitchell/Panetta budget deal. Convenient, because when you do all that, you get to say things like ‘the Republican party is the party of low taxes and excessive spending and has been for 50 years.’

    You will get no qualms out of me for the current spending behaviors, however.

  12. 12
    demimondian says:

    It must be convenient to forget who controlled congress for most of the 1980’s, or who reneged on the spending cuts after the 1990 Darman/Mitchell/Panetta budget deal. Convenient, because when you do all that, you get to say things like ‘the Republican party is the party of low taxes and excessive spending and has been for 50 years.’

    Given that every one of the Congressional budgets in the 1980’s was actually significantly more balanced than the budget proposals submitted by the President during that era, I don’t think I need to defend the Democrats then, either. I’d even put Reagan’s “If it will get the tax cuts passed, put it in the budget” attitiude in the first part of his administration as the archetype for the Republican party’s irresponsibility.

    But I can’t dodge the Panetta agreement. That, unfortunately, shows that the Democratic party is also willing to pander to its base. I think it’s fair to argue that the Dems were less bad than the Repubs, even then, but that’s scant comfort for me.

  13. 13
    jg says:

    The republicans are running this country the way Tony Soprano ran the sporting goods store he won in a card game. Bustout.

  14. 14
    Bernard Yomtov says:

    Clinton didn’t balance those budgets on his own. Folks like Kasich, etc., ruled the day.

    No. But remember the Republican reaction to Clinton’s tax increase. It was going to be economic doomsday, everyone should buy gold, etc.

    While Democrats are no saints on fiscal issues, it is very clear that they have the much superior record.

  15. 15
    KC says:

    Look, representatives in both parties have always wanted more federal spending in their own districts. That’s the system we have. And, I don’t think it was any different 100 years ago. I would like a more austere Congress, no doubt about that. However, when one party controls all three branches of government, the only budget enforcement that’s likely is what we’ll see on television in campaign commercials. Moreover, I think the balance-the-budget campaign theme isn’t exactly a winner. There were really only a few times in my lifetime in which it seemed to have play (and the minority party is always the one to push it). The Dems pushed it in the last election, did it do them a lick of good? As long as voters don’t care about balancing the budget or wasteful spending, whenever politicians can effectively use war or whatever crisis maybe coming our way to spend more, we’re going to run deficits–and spend a lot.

  16. 16
    Jess says:

    I’ve heard the claim many times that Reagan and his followers, including W, deliberately ran up huge deficits in order to weaken the government, forcing it to downsize. What do you guys think? Paranoid? Accurate? a bit of both?

  17. 17
    Kimmitt says:

    It’s called “starve the beast,” a term coined by Grover Norquist. So, no, not paranoid.

    I’m baffled and frustrated that the Dems joined in on the legislation; it’s so very, very bad.

  18. 18
    Mark-NC says:

    Actually, the 90’s were different that any of you state.

    In simple terms, Clinton made getting the deficit under control a major priority. The bill of ’93 was voted against by every Republican but passed anyway. This increased taxes on the highest brackets but gave some relief to the middle class.

    From that point, Republicans used that vote to win control of both houses of Congress. Their goal was to make Clinton’s life miserable morning, noon, and night – and one of the ways they did this was to try and brand him as a “tax & spend liberal”. They positioned themselves as “fiscal conservatives” and forced Clinton’s budgets to be tight and well controlled.

    The combination of a president that tried to control spending and a belligerent Congress that rode his butt endlessly, created the first balanced budgets in a generation.

    The problem today is that Bush spends money like Reagan, and the Republican Congress doesn’t give a damn. They will rubber stamp anything Bush wants.

  19. 19
    Mr Furious says:

    I’ve heard the claim many times that Reagan and his followers, including W, deliberately ran up huge deficits in order to weaken the government, forcing it to downsize. What do you guys think? Paranoid? Accurate? a bit of both?

    Accurate. And guys like Norquist aren’t shy about it. It’s no secret agenda, it’s out there. It’s more of a think-tank / behind-the-curtain strategy not fully practiced by all elected officials on the Right — it’s for the true believers like Norquist and those he can infuence. Most clowns in Congress are still too worried about their own ass and district to go all the way. Bankrupting the government isn’t something you can run on, but if it’s the side effect of all the drunken spending sprees they won’t lose a wink of sleep over it.

    MY problem with the Dems on these bills is that they went along for the ride. This is perfect material to run on next year, but you can’t cast the Republicans as the out of control maniacs that they are if forty Dems vote for it too. Fucking retarded long-term strategy.

  20. 20
    Kimmitt says:

    They positioned themselves as “fiscal conservatives” and forced Clinton’s budgets to be tight and well controlled.

    If what you say is the case, then you should be able to produce the following to support your thesis:

    (1) The size of the budgets Clinton (or, more to the point, his designated sponsors in the House) submitted vs. the budgets that got passed during the Republican years.

    (2) The reduction in the size of the Federal Government during the 2 years the Democrats held both Houses of Congress vs. the 6 years in which Republicans held at least the House (in percentage of GDP). If what you’re saying is true, then the Federal Government would shrink faster during the 6 years of Republican “assistance” than in the two years without.

    I’m looking forward to seeing (1), because the CBO says you don’t have (2). It’s a myth.

  21. 21
    Sojourner says:

    I read an article a few months ago which said that Norquist is pissed off at more than a few Repub governors who he thought he had on the team. As soon as they bcome governor, they reject the starve the beast concept.

    Clearly, the American people aren’t keen on the concept.

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