Howard Rich

Have recent elections taught Republicans nothing?

Routed from power in 2006 and 2008 for their wholesale betrayal of the American taxpayers, the GOP was granted a new lease on life because Democrats chose to put Bush-era bailouts and deficit spending on steroids while forcing a socialized medicine monstrosity down the throats of the American people.

Yet scarcely a month after being handed control of the U.S. House, Republicans are already losing sight of why they were given another chance. In retreating from their commitment to cut $100 billion from the budget (which let’s face it – will barely make a dent in our $14 trillion debt) the GOP is demonstrating a fundamental but all too familiar lack of courage. Republicans are also refusing to address the entitlement behemoths of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – ticking time bombs that pose even graver dangers to our nation’s long-term solvency.

Such squeamishness is not surprising given the party’s recent pattern of backing down in the face of an ideologically inferior foe. In fact, I refer to this flight reflex as “going Gingrich.”

Riding a similar wave of limited government fervor in 1994, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” promised taxpayers balanced budgets, less government and term limits – but quickly caved on all fronts. As a result the “era of big government” that Democratic President Bill Clinton promised was “over” ended up coming to pass – under GOP rule.

“The party that in 1994 would abolish the Department of Education now brags in response to Clinton’s 2000 State of the Union Address that it is outspending the White House when it comes to education,” Cato Institute founder Ed Crane wrote a decade ago, noting that “the combined budgets of the 95 major programs that the Contract with America promised to eliminate have increased by 13%.”

Far worse was coming. With Republicans holding the purse strings, federal spending jumped from $1.79 trillion in 2000 to $2.73 trillion in 2007 – a 23.5 percent increase after adjusting for inflation. By contrast, America’s population grew by just 9.7 percent over the course of the entire decade.

Where was Gingrich during this then-unprecedented orgy of new spending? Embracing the fuzzy science of global warming in a television commercial with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“Our country must take action to address climate change,” Gingrich said in the ad.

Pelosi took action – spending billions of American tax dollars to create “green jobs” in other countries.

Howard Rich

Howard Rich is the Chairman of Americans for Limited Government.