Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Real World

“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”
-Jonathan Swift

At the risk of attempting to do exactly that, Matthias Shapiro has penned a piece that seeks to undercut the popular sentiment among GOP voters that the Republican Senators and Representatives they helped elect in recent years (2010 and 2014 especially) have “done nothing” to seek to stymie the Obama administration’s plans and according to some have even collaborated with President Obama to help implement his progressive agenda to transform the country. He employs a number of facts and figures to bolster his argument which means his appeal to reason is likely to fall on ears quite deaf to such logic and quite sold on the belief that the cuckservative GOP establishment has abandoned their principles and the only hope now lies in burning it all down.

Nevertheless, for those open to embracing statistics rather than slogans it is well worth reading.

The GOP Won the Spending War While No One Was Looking:

But after Republicans took control of Congress in 2011, despite what you may have heard, they really did put a brake on federal spending. A really good brake. In fact, since 2011, federal spending has increased at only 1.3 percent per year ... the slowest rate since the aftermath of World War II.

During this lengthy and exhausting (physically, morally, and spiritually) campaign season numbers were thrown about with reckless abandon. Yet, I never once heard that 1.3% growth in government spending per year since 2011 mentioned. Seems like a pretty salient number.

This might not seem like a big difference. After all, spending is still growing, isn’t it? But capping the spending increases by that much year over hear has a massive cumulative effect. Consider what Obama projected in his budgets against what the Republican Congress gave him.

In 2009, Obama promised to cut federal spending by $100 million, which sounds big but is actually hilariously small in terms of federal spending. By contrast, by 2012 (the first fiscal year the majority GOP could even influence), the Republicans had slashed Obama’s budget expectations by $217 billion … more than 2,000 times that amount.

And that was just the beginning.

The difference between Obama’s 2015 spending projection and what was actually spent was an astounding $697 billion dollars. That’s more money than we spent on Medicaid.

Let that sink in.

In five years, the Republicans managed to hold back Obama's spending increases by more money than if they actually got rid of Medicaid. And so far 2016 looks like it will hold to that trend.

Has the Republican Congress fulfilled the expectation of the conservative voters who elected them? Not even close. Have they missed opportunities to stand on conservative principles? Too many to even count. Have they done everything they possibly could in a strategic and sensible manner to thwart President Obama’s ambitions? Probably not.

However, that’s a long ways from “doing nothing” or even worse supporting President Obama’s efforts. Acting within the constraints that our imperfect yet best possible political system provides they did make a considerable difference in slowing down the spending train whose fire the Democrats were more than happy to keep fueling. While they weren’t able to starve the beast at least they were able to reduce its intake.

So before we go all in on threats to “burn it all down” and lap up vacuous promises that will only be fulfilled in fairy land, let’s take a moment and recognize the reality of what’s really happened or not happened over the last five years when it comes to spending.