March 21, 2011
By Brian Darling
Washington Republicans, Look to Wisconsin
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s principled stand can teach Washington Republicans an important lesson in bravery.Al Aitken, a good friend of mine who is a Marine veteran and a commercial airline pilot, explained to me a few years ago the difference between courage and bravery. Courage is taking action and not considering the consequences. Bravery is when you take action knowing that you are going to face pain or peril, yet you take action anyway. Walker showed bravery in his fight to balance the state budget and modify collective bargaining for certain public employees.
Washington Republican politicians, by contrast, seem fearful of fighting for anything these days.Government Shutdown DisorderRepublicans in Congress have “Government Shutdown Disorder.” This illness causes Republicans to shudder and make bizarre decisions when they feel like they’ll be blamed for shutting down the federal government. Democrats, of course, are preying on this anxiety. They know how to use this disorder to force Republicans to undermine themselves.Why didn’t House Republicans send over to the Senate a measure to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year and dare Senate Democrats to not pass it? Government Shutdown Disorder. The House passed $61 billion in cuts this year, defunding elements of ObamaCare, EPA regulations and Planned Parenthood. Then they engaged in a strategy insuring that the House-passed measure never saw the light of day. House Republicans passed two- and three-week resolutions to fund the government. They removed any pressure building on the Senate to pass its own spending measure. Clearly, House Republicans fear being blamed for a government shutdown more than Democrats do. House Republicans and the conservative movement need to declare a truce. They need to sit down find a way to pass the necessary cuts. Any chance Gov. Walker can jet into Washington, D.C. for some leadership training?So Much to Spend, So Little TimeLiberals in the Capitol, meanwhile, are dealing with their own malady. They have a bad case of “Liberal Binge Spending Disorder.” They binge spend on the stimulus, ObamaCare, bailouts and other pet “infrastructure” programs, yet they can’t find any cuts to pay for it all. Usually these binges cost taxpayers about $1 trillion apiece.Liberals can’t find one real spending cut in the whole budget. The President and congressional Democrats brag that they’ve teamed up with Republicans to cut $10 billion this year. The $10 billion in “cuts” includes billions and billions of earmark money that would have never been spent, and programs that no member supports. Is the President willing to veto a spending bill and shut down the government rather than cut $61 billion (a mere fraction of the estimated $1.5 trillion in debt projected for this year)? Is he so devoted to liberal pet causes that he’s would do all this to protect federally funded abortion and National Public Radio (NPR)?Net Neutrality Internet RegulationsLeft-wing Sen. Al Franken (D.-Minn.) wants to regulate the Internet. He publicly stated last week that he supports so-called “net neutrality” and considers it an important free speech issue. Net neutrality is the concept of using the federal government to regulate traffic on the Internet. The goal of such regulation is to force Internet service providers to charge the same amount of money for different levels of access. The Federal Communications Commission has issued Internet regulations consistent with Franken’s wishes. The regulations would allow bureaucrats to bring the heavy hand of government down to regulate Internet service providers’ fees. This violates the idea of free market capitalism, where the market is allowed to determine pricing for service providers and service users.Defund ObamaCareFormer Iowa GOP Congressman Ernest Istook, now at The Heritage Foundation, and Representatives Steve King (R.-Iowa) and Michele Bachmann (R.-Minn.) have identified $105 billion in secret mandatory spending in ObamaCare. Istook has identified “$23.6 billion being spent right now to implement ObamaCare” and this spending is difficult for conservatives to stop. Almost all of the discretionary functions of the federal government are funded through the annual appropriations process. ObamaCare was drafted to avoid the regular appropriations process. Liberals used something called “advance appropriations” to make $105 billion in ObamaCare funding untouchable.The only way to get rid of the funding is to change the law and repeal all the funding in ObamaCare over an Obama veto. Clearly this is going to be virtually impossible while this President is in office.
Brian Darling is director of U.S. Senate Relations at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared in Human Events
Senior Fellow for Government Studies
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