In the early morning hours of Saturday, the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate passed a tax reform package that, by many estimates, would balloon the national deficit and exacerbate inequality in the country. Only a single Republican holdout, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, refused to vote for the bill. The remainder of the 51–49 vote divided perfectly along party lines.
Now, the bill faces reconciliation with a similar proposal passed by the House of Representatives. Once the differences are ironed out, both chambers will seek to pass a unified bill.
Had the party held true to its conservative philosophy, it would never have considered such a drastic reduction in corporate and individual tax rates.
Perhaps Republicans never truly cared about fiscal conservatism. While they were in power under the presidency of George W. Bush, they passed massive tax cuts and greatly expanded our military presence in the Middle East. The deficit grew under their reign with nary a concern.
When the Democrats came into power under President Barack Obama, that support of freewheeling dealing — spending increases and revenue decreases — came to an abrupt halt, giving way to the rise of the TEA Party and the resurgence of deficit-minded hawks.
What happened? The sad truth: Though one party claims the national deficit is one of the most pressing issues the United States faces in the modern age, a potentially existential threat, neither party truly cares.
The political parties of our country are focused only on the short term — what will make them look good to the base in the present moment, so that they might prevail in the next election.
For Democrats, that’s increasing spending. For Republicans, that’s decreasing revenue collection. The conclusion is inevitable: The national debt will continue to rise at an unsustainable rate, the great leaders of our country knowingly shoving us down a spiral of death and doom and gloom.
R.I.P. fiscal conservatism. ■