By Andrew Moran
The promise of a so-called Blue Wave failed to materialize on Election Day, but the Democrats will still hold the keys to power in the House of Representatives for the next two years come January. In what will undoubtedly be a popcorn-worthy affair until 2020, President Donald Trump will go to battle with a party whose primary objective is to obstruct his MAGA agenda and dismantle his presidency with more pouting, whining, and the airing of grievances.
When the two parties are fighting each other, they have less time to bully the taxpayer.
Until the Democrats get their way, it will be Festivus every day. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will partake in Feats of Strength against President Trump, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) will erect an aluminum pole, and Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) will wish for Festivus miracles to fund her ambitious $42 trillion spending program.
It might not seem like it on the surface, especially as the Democratic platform veers further left, but there is a glimmer of hope for deficit hawks and officials who want to take an ax to spending.
Why? When the two parties are fighting each other, they have less time to bully the taxpayer. That could be good for the public purse.
Is There Precedent?
Unfortunately for Americans concerned about the skyrocketing national debt and swelling deficit, this may be wishful thinking.
Whenever the two parties exchanged legislative power every two years, the nation’s finances did not often improve in recent years. Dating back to 1992, only once has the midterm results caused government outlays to take a breather. This took place in 2010, when the Tea Party invaded Capitol Hill and demanded the return to fiscal sanity. It may not have been much, but after the GOP captured the House, expenditures dipped by approximately $30 billion.
But then President Barack Obama and Republican leaders made concessions and compromises. Despite campaigning on tackling the reckless spending of the Obama administration, lawmakers allowed the status quo to reign supreme the following election cycle.
Compromise is the Reality
In 2016, it was believed that Hillary Clinton would win the White House, but that Republicans would secure victories in the House and Senate. By having the GOP control these branches of government, it was unlikely that Clinton would implement a progressive agenda, one that would comprise of spending and tax hikes. This, many conservatives and libertarians argued, would rein in the outlays.
This did not occur. Instead, the real estate billionaire mogul and the Republicans controlled Washington. The result? Exploding debt, a ballooning deficit, and no spending caps in sight. The GOP successfully passed historic tax cuts, but these were not complemented with the necessary spending cutbacks.
While it is true that a GOP-led government would have resulted in fewer taxes, it is less likely it would have spawned a net spending decrease. The Republican leadership hinted at entitlement reform, and the president urged his Cabinet to institute budget cuts, but the meat and potatoes would have been ignored – as they always are by both parties.
Now that Washington will come to a legislative standstill until the 2020 contest, there is a belief that nothing will get done. Contrary to popular opinion, this might be a positive development for those who routinely demand drastic reductions in federal spending.
There are a few possibilities moving forward. The first is that nothing will get done, leaving spending alone – zero cuts or increases. The second is that Democrats will see the error of their ways and champion fiscal conservatism. The third is that both parties will reach a compromise and expand the budget again. The reality is likely to be option three with more tax dollars allocated to the welfare-warfare state.
Fiscal hawks can only pray that the Democrats despise Trump so much they don’t want to work with him on anything, shutting down the government and leaving the budget alone.
As LN’s resident sage, Graham Noble, wrote, “Democrats will focus the rest of their time on investigations of the president, his Cabinet, and House Republicans.”
This would be a win-win for the president, too. He has already achieved quite a lot as head of state that has pleased his base, and the Russian investigation is a ruse. In the end, he can blame Democrats’ obstructionism for any missing gains.
Gridlock seems the only answer to the ocean of red ink.
Victimizing the People
If you’re an anti-government voter, then you’re possibly pleased whenever the parties go to war at the highest levels of the leviathan. As politicians and bureaucrats bully each other, they have less time and fewer resources to harass the American people. Innovative services, like Uber and Airbnb, can pop up. Officials are too busy to establish taxpayer-funded progressive programs. The public can enjoy life without having a civil servant rain on their parade. The federal budget will likely increase, but at least policymakers are more inclined to go after the executive branch, not John Smith from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Teflon Don is the hero taxpayers need right now – he can withstand the pressure.