- - Friday, February 23, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

With the upcoming spending bill, Republicans have two options. They can deliver on their campaign promises to rein in spending, or they can double down on the Democrats’ failed fiscal policies. The wrong choice here will likely have dire consequences in the midterm elections in November.

In my position representing Tea Party Patriots, an organization that formed in response to the federal government’s out-of-control spending, my advice to the GOP is to make sure the spending bill reflects your campaign promises. Translation? Avoid massive deficit-spending and, equally importantly, avoid using the spending bill to prop up Obamacare or to extend DACA.

Republicans have campaigned over the years on reducing the federal deficit, implementing spending restraints, and reforming the entitlement system. But now that Republicans control both chambers of Congress and the White House, we are hearing about GOP-crafted spending proposals that bear little resemblance to the party’s campaign theme of fiscal discipline.

During the Obama years, Republicans voiced their concerns about the deficit. But now, the Treasury Department is forecasting that the federal government will borrow roughly $1 trillion per year for 2018, 2019 and 2020 - an 84 percent increase over last year. This is what passes for fiscal restraint with the Republicans in control?

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, in a recent speech on the Senate floor, asked of his Republican colleagues: “How come you were against President Obama’s deficits, and then how come you’re for Republican deficits? Isn’t that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty?”

Sen. John Thune, remarking on Mr. Paul’s floor speech, said it was “a colossal waste of time.” Apparently, from the GOP establishment’s perspective, that kind of talk should be reserved for the campaign trail only.

Speaking of campaign promises, Republicans campaigned during four consecutive elections on the pledge that they would repeal Obamacare. That promise, of course, has yet to be realized. One of the more ludicrous spending proposals floating around Washington these days is that Congress might extend the Obamacare insurance bailout programs, including the cost-sharing provisions and the risk corridor program. The details, while somewhat complex, are worth examining.

Obamacare is as much of a disaster as conservatives had predicted it would be, and it has required a variety of bailout programs. One such program was the risk corridor program, which required insurance companies that earned “excess” profits during the first three years of the Obamacare exchanges to pay into the program to offset the insurance companies that lost money through the exchanges. The result was easy to predict. Losses far exceeded the “excess” profits, and the risk corridor program ran significantly over budget. By law, the risk corridor program expired in 2016.

Now, despite the fact that the risk corridor program has expired - and despite the fact that the Justice Department under both President Obama and President Trump has said the risk corridor program is no longer the taxpayers’ responsibility - Congress is conspiring to resurrect the program in the spending bill.

In related news, Congress is also considering using the spending bill to allocate funds for Mr. Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional “cost-sharing” insurance bailout program. The issue here is that President Obama, whose understanding of the separation of powers was always a bit shaky, appropriated the funds for that program himself. Congress, which has the constitutional “power of the purse,” never actually appropriated funds for that particular Obamacare bailout program. The courts sided with conservatives (and the U.S.  Constitution) and rebuked Mr. Obama for his executive overreach.

So, why is the Republican-led Congress considering propping up Obamacare through these two bailout programs?

There is one additional Republican campaign promise that plays into the spending bill - the promise to restore the rule of law in immigration policy. Republicans railed against Mr. Obama’s illegal DACA program. It was a flagrant example of Obama’s disregard for the Constitution’s limitations on his executive authority. Without Congress, Obama unilaterally decided in 2012 to create an amnesty program for illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors. That program was one of the most controversial aspects of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Incredibly, Democrats are pressuring Republicans to extend DACA for several years in the spending bill - and too many Republicans seem willing to go along.

The insurance industry bailout and the DACA extension have something in common - both were Obama-orchestrated executive overreaches. And both are entirely inappropriate inclusions in a GOP spending bill.

The 2018 midterms are fast approaching. If Republicans want to win this year, they should recommit themselves to fiscal restraint and abandon all talk of propping up two of the most egregious examples of executive overreach from the Obama years - the Obamacare insurance bailouts, and the DACA amnesty program.

Simply put, Republicans have to get this spending bill right. If they don’t, GOP voters may conclude that voting for a party that promises one thing but does the opposite is, well, to borrow a phrase from Sen. Thune, a colossal waste of time.

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