Politics

The Serial Capitulations of Your GOP Congress

Republicans have a ready store of white flags to wave for Obama

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? — Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”

If you were a GOP voter, you might just be an ardent supporter of Donald Trump. To the conservative voter, watching congressional Republicans surrender to Democrats time and time again, it’s easy to think that every day is exactly the same, and that nothing one does matters.

It’s a frustrating pattern. Mr. Politician enters an election and runs on a conservative platform, promising to rein in government spending and waste, and to advance conservative principles. He wins the election. Then Mr. Politician goes to Washington and — faster than one can say “special interests” — he promptly forgets about conservative principles and begins to eagerly participate in government spending and corpulent waste.

American conservatives received a stark reminder of this last week, as the Senate approved a massive $1.1 trillion spending omnibus and a tax break bill topping $500 billion. The budget is being touted by GOP Establishment figures as some kind of win for the right, due almost entirely to an included lift of the ban on oil exports.

But while higher profits for big oil will undoubtedly leave a few of the top GOP donors happy, the omnibus bill, which maintains funding for every plank of the progressive platform, left most conservative voters horrified. Conservative stalwart Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama spoke for those voters when he asked his fellow Republicans on the Senate floor, “Who do we represent?”

Rebuking his own party, Sessions said: “There is a reason that GOP voters are in open rebellion … they have come to believe that their party’s elites are not only uninterested in defending their interests but — as with this legislation, and fast-tracking the president’s international trade pact — openly hostile to them.”

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Remarkably, the GOP Establishment still doesn’t understand this, preferring to stick its collective head in the sand and just wait for Trump to go away. But outsider candidates are dominating the race across the board. Nationally, Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — the candidates least-associated with the GOP Establishment — have the support of 63.9 percent of GOP primary voters, while in Iowa, their support is at 69.4 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.

It’s easy to understand why.

Famously, there was the Republicans’ humiliating surrender over the debt ceiling in 2013. What’s worse, that occurred under a Congress with a clear Republican majority. Some saw it coming, despite the bluster.

More recent examples abound from this year.

In February, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill to fully fund the DHS without defunding Obama’s executive amnesty plans. On March 3, conservatives across the country watched as 75 Republicans voted with Democrats to pass it.

In April, a Republican-controlled Congress surrendered its treaty negotiation powers to Obama, effectively rubber-stamping the president’s Iran deal. The legislation, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, was introduced by Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Also in April, conservatives looked on aghast as the Senate approved the nomination of Loretta Lynch as attorney general. McConnell was instrumental in this as well, despite having claimed earlier that whoever hoped to replace Eric Holder as AG must “commit to avoiding at all costs as a condition of his or her confirmation.”

Then in June, the GOP congressional leadership worked to give Obama fast-track authority over the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. This authority was even opposed by a significant number of Democrats, and was only able to pass due to Republican support.

In September, in the wake of revelations revealing that Planned Parenthood engaged in the illegal harvesting and sale of fetal body parts, GOP leaders in the Senate introduced a spending bill with a measure that would have funded the government through the year but stopped all funding for Planned Parenthood. Seven Republicans — including presidential candidate Rand Paul — voted against the measure. It was defeated by five votes.

This isn’t a recent phenomenon, either. Throughout the Bush years, government continued to grow in size and spending. Even Reagan, patron saint of the modern conservative movement, left government bigger upon leaving office than when he entered it.

The GOP Establishment would like to ascribe Trump’s continued success in the polls solely to his ability to tap into populist fears over immigration. But the evidence suggests voters’ rejection of the GOP Establishment has been a long time coming.

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