The Santa Claus principle, which dominates both parties in Washington, says that if politicians spend voters’ money, voters will elect them in perpetuity. They take your money, then give it back in some program or other, and you’re supposed to be grateful. The recent budget deal, the 2018 Omnibus made between big-spending Republicans and bigger-spending Democrats, has killed any pretense at limited government, for now.
Democrats are the original Santas, but at least they’re honest about their love for big spending. They brag about how much they’re doing for us (really, it’s to us). Republicans are ever a pale imitation. Republicans always campaign to reduce spending and shrink government, but when they get to Washington they spend, piling up enormous debt for the rest of us.
The $ 1.3 trillion omnibus is 2,232 pages long. It was impossible to read, let alone understand, in the time allotted. When Democrats offered huge bills with little time to read them, we rightly complained. Now Republicans are doing it. Here’s what some of what was was funded:
$12 million for Lebanese scholarships.
$20 million for Middle East scholarships.
$12 million to fund the Vietnamese military.
$3.5 million for Laotian nutrition.
$15 million in developmental assistance for China, our main military and economic rival.
With one stroke, Republicans managed to depress their base, make a Republican President look weak, and put their majority in peril. Brilliant.
One reason why this bill is such a budget-buster is that Democrats insisted on discretionary spending increases before they would fund modernization and pay raises for our military.
Tom Reed correctly voted against this spending free-for-all, a courageous decision to be sure in the face of what had to be enormous political pressure.
Why does this matter? The Republican Party is supposed to stand for individual freedom and its essential component—limited government, in direct opposition to Democrats. Big spending and limited government are mutually exclusive. You can’t have both. With the Republican surrender on omnibus, we now have two big-government parties.
Limited government is important because as government grows, it requires more of your money. According to the Tax Freedom Foundation, we now work until almost May to pay our taxes each year. Citizens have a limited lifespan, and money taxed from us means less time to enrich our lives, and those of our children and grandchildren. That is precisely why this is such a bad deal. What’s to be done?
Former Governor Al Smith said, “Nobody shoots Santa Claus.” For now, people love big spenders. Politics is always downstream from culture. And until more of us demand smaller and more limited government, we’ll get free spending Santas and rotten sellout deals like the 2018 Omnibus.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.