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OPINION

Senate Legislative Agenda for 2023 – Stop Bad Things

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/John Raoux

If the projections are to be believed, Republicans are poised to take over both the House and the Senate in the midterm elections. The party has done an excellent job of hammering the Biden Administration for doing nothing to alleviate inflation. Republicans need to hit the ground running in the Lame Duck post-election session, and when they take over Congress next year, to put the brakes on big government.

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It sounds like some Republicans get it. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was asked on Fox News about the Republican agenda next year facing a hostile President. He was asked, “What is going to get done?” Sen. Rubio responded by saying, “one of our most important jobs is we need to stop bad things from happening – that includes nominees and that includes laws.” Hopefully, that agenda equals big cuts to spending, but I am not holding my breath. Rubio’s answer is excellent because it pushes hard against the common feeling by members that they need to ‘accomplish something’ which usually ends up spending borrowed cash and growing government. 

If Republicans end up taking the White House in 2024, this will put Republicans in a conundrum. They will have to choose between staying on the big spending road to ruin or opting for austerity measures that will be unpopular with a public that has become accustomed to free services from the government. Max Borders of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) wrote on November 4, 2022, “Our leaders on the left and right have been living in a fantasy world of unlimited spending, bailouts, and money-printing for far too long.” Borders argue that because “the interventionist machine has finally sputtered and stalled” resulting in a slowing economy will result in an “economic calamity” that “will put Republicans into a bind.” He puts out some scary statistics about how the leverage on the world economy is the equivalent of three years of economic output. 

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Republicans will have a challenge because they have proven unwilling to fight for a balanced budget that would result in cuts to some politically popular spending programs. One great example of how Republicans have shifted on spending is a comparison between the debate over the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), also knowns as the Wall Street Bailout, versus the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. The original version of TARP was a $700 billion blank check to the Department of Treasury to bail out failing institutions on Wall Street to stem big losses from the purchase of troubled assets. The original version of the bill was offered as an amendment to another bill and failed with 133 Republicans joining 95 Democrats to kill the idea. This was a big win for conservatives that was short-lived. The program later passed in another close vote. At least back in 2008, there was a caucus of Republicans willing to fight government spending – even spending initiated by a Republican president. That is not true today.

Fast forward to March 2020, and barely a peep of opposition was produced by Republicans in opposing the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relieve, and Economic Security Act that included the fraud-ridden Paycheck Protection Program. This bill is the largest government dump of cash into the economy in U.S. history and only one Member of Congress stood in opposition – Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY). Rep. Massie asked for a recorded vote so the American people could know the members who supported spending the $2.2 trillion program. Rep. Massie was almost kicked out of the Republican party for daring to put members on record. Republicans have lost the ability to push back against big-spending ideas from their leadership.

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A smart agenda would be to use the next few months for Republicans to educate Americans that wealth is created by the private sector, not the government. The government needs to respect private property rights and not interfere with private entities' negotiation of fair prices. Government, and media, should stop demonizing those who create popular products and services, thereby creating great wealth for themselves, investors, and employees. The rhetorical war on so-called ‘Big Tech’ is a great example of demeaning success.

A government that does not backstop bad decisions by companies that end up losing money is another principle that Republicans should embrace. Crony capitalism is not popular with either party and the American people. Finally, Federal Reserve should not be allowed to crank up the printing presses when things get tight, thereby dumping more cash into the government’s pocket, resulting in inflation. 

The bottom line is that our nation is on the brink of an economic collapse and Republicans are going to end up holding the bag if they don’t start the process of austerity right now. They need to use the power of the purse to force cuts to federal spending that will slow government growth while easing the party back to its free market, small government roots. If not, Republicans will shoulder some of the blame when our dollar blows up and the economy crashes.

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