By Senator Chris McDaniel
In 1984, as a 13-year-old boy, I fell in love with the message of Ronald Reagan. He spoke to my heart about liberty, limited government, and personal responsibility. He made me proud to be an American. I believed in him; but perhaps more importantly, I loved the Republican Party’s message and platform. I’ve been a member of the GOP ever since.
But something’s different. We’ve forgotten the lessons of history. Instead of being champions for our cause, we’ve become serial compromisers. Even worse, we manage to celebrate our perpetual surrenders, convincing ourselves that our republic’s slow slide into the abyss is somehow preferred.
What happened to our conviction? Our courage? Our sense of right and wrong?
“Always stand on principle,” John Adams once said, “even if you stand alone.” I believe in those words. I just wish my party would do the same.
The GOP is supposed to serve a particular purpose: To espouse certain specific principles and to give the people who believe in those ideas an organization to rally around and promote them. It works well on one condition — when elected Republicans defend the platform.
This week witnessed disappointing activity in Congress, especially in the Paul Ryan-led House of Representatives, as long-standing Republican principles took a back seat to political expediency.
First, Republicans passed an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government until the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The bill essentially handed the Democrats everything they wanted and gave conservatives almost nothing.
Here is what the 2016 GOP platform says on the subject, under the heading “Balancing the Budget”:
“Republican budgets will prioritize thrift over extravagance and put taxpayers first. We support the following test: Is a particular expenditure within the constitutional scope of the federal government? If not, stop it. Has it been effective in the past and is it still absolutely necessary? If not, end it. Is it so important as to justify borrowing, especially foreign borrowing, to fund it? If not, kill it.”
None of that high-minded rhetoric made it into the GOP omnibus bill, nor does it seem to be in Trump’s budget blueprint for his first fiscal year beginning on October 1.
Unfortunately, despite already having a $20 trillion debt, the omnibus bill will spend more than a trillion dollars in the next five months, and fully fund such items as refugee resettlement, funding for sanctuary cities, a bailout for Puerto Rico, $2 billion more for the National Institutes of Health, which now has a budget of $34 billion, and full funding for abortion-providing Planned Parenthood, none of which has any constitutional support. Yet the bill does not provide a single cent for construction of the border wall, which is a constitutional function of the federal government.
Even more disappointing, four out of five GOP members of Mississippi’s congressional delegation — Thad Cochran, Roger Wicker, Steven Palazzo, and Gregg Harper — voted for it.
Of course, the idea of cutting spending is about balancing the budget, which is what the party’s platform demands. But it also calls for reducing the national debt.
On that subject, the platform reads:
“Our national debt is a burden on our economy and families. The huge increase in the national debt demanded by and incurred during the current Administration has placed a significant burden on future generations. We must impose firm caps on future debt, accelerate the repayment of the trillions we now owe in order to reaffirm our principles of responsible and limited government and remove the burdens we are placing on future generations. A strong economy is one key to debt reduction, but spending restraint is a necessary component that must be vigorously pursued.”
Again, it was ignored. We saw no “spending restraint” in the congressional bill. The only vigorous pursuit was more spending. This is no way to balance the budget and reduce the national debt.
Next, House Republicans passed the American Health Care Act. It purported to “repeal” Obamacare. We now know we’ve been misled by the DC establishment. There was no repeal; Obamacare was simply repackaged or “repaired.”
So how does the party platform address Obamacare? Under “Restoring Patient Control and Preserving Quality in Healthcare,” the party declared that it was “time to repeal Obamacare.”
The opening of the plank reads: “Any honest agenda for improving healthcare must start with repeal of the dishonestly named Affordable Care Act of 2010: Obamacare. It weighs like the dead hand of the past upon American medicine. It imposed a Euro-style bureaucracy to manage its unworkable, budget-busting, conflicting provisions. It has driven up prices for all consumers. Their insurance premiums have dramatically increased while their deductibles have risen about eight times faster than wages in the last ten years.”
But with the AHCA we did not get a repeal, which Republicans have campaigned on (and fundraised) in every single election beginning in 2010. According to Mark Levin, the new bill was “about 90 percent Obamacare.”
Though some Republicans might tout some of the good parts of the bill, the bottom line is the dishonesty associated with it. We the people were promised repeal of Obamacare. We voted Republican because of the promise of repeal. But we were bamboozled.
And now that they are taking credit for a so-called full repeal, what makes us think they will take any additional action to stop Obamacare? After all, it’s “repealed,” correct? Nothing left to be accomplished, right?
Put simply; they surrendered the issue and accepted the liberal premise that providing healthcare is a federal responsibility. Then, after betraying the party’s platform, they had the audacity to wildly celebrate a pyrrhic victory.
We are a party of principle no longer.
Republicans, because of the hard work of the people at the grassroots since 2010, now control the House, Senate, and the White House, in addition to a bulk of state governments.
So now what’s the excuse?
If Republicans are not going to stand firm for the principles of the party, then what’s the point?
Chris McDaniel is a three-term State Senator, Former U.S. federal law clerk, attorney, conservative commentator and MS counsel against Obamacare. He was awarded the 2016 American Conservative Union’s Award for Conservative Excellence.