MILLER: Republicans cave on budget and principle of cutting runaway spending

Face voter backlash in 2014 primary elections

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Republicans are again battling each other rather than fighting against President Obama and congressional Democrats.

The conservative wing in Congress, backed by like-minded outside groups, hate to stand by while a federal budget is enacted that increases spending and adds to the $17 trillion debt dragging down our economy.

The GOP can’t seem to stick to the concept of uniting behind the principles that got them elected. 

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the budget deal struck by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, by a vote of 64 to 36. President Obama said he will sign the blueprint that settles spending levels for 2014 and 2015.

All 36 who voted against it were Republicans. Those included some in leadership who are in tough primary races in 2014, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.

GOP senators who have aspirations for a presidential run in 2016 also were nays, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas. 

When the House passed the budget last week, the most conservative members were among the 94 nays. All of the House leadership voted for the “bipartisan” deal. House Speaker John A. Boehner had greased the skids on it in order to avoid media coverage about a possible government shutdown in January. 

Republican leaders want to keep the public focused on the unraveling Obamacare disaster, and not get sidetracked by a financial debate, such as the one during the first two weeks of October. Unfortunately, in their effort at conflict avoidance, they caved on keeping spending at existing legal limits. 

The Budget Control Act of 2011 was a true bipartisan deal between Mr. Obama and congressional Republicans that set 10 years of budget caps that reduced the increase in spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. 

Mr. McConnell noted in a statement Tuesday that the budget caps have been so effective that federal spending has actually decreased for the past two fiscal years — the first time that has happened since after the Korean War.

(However, the spending cuts were almost entirely out of defense and the bloated unemployment-benefit spending that Mr. Obama had demanded.)

Now the caps will be busted to the tune of $45 billion in 2014 and $18 billion in 2015. 

While there are $85 billion in offsets written into the legislation, the biggest ones don’t take place until the end of the 10-year window. One truism in Washington is money spent now is real, and savings in the future never happen. 

“By the time they say we’re spending less, we’ll have one or two new presidents and four different Congresses — half of today’s Congress won’t even be there,” the president of Club for Growth, Chris Chocola, told me in an interview.

“To say we’re going to do hard work later instead of today does not instill confidence in any American. All this does is create more debt, deficits and bigger government.” 

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