Republicans who care about liberty should be thankful that President Trump is being tough during the shutdown. Sure, it’s messy. And there’s a “debate” about border security, but what is really going on is a power play between Republican who run the government and control the Senate and Nancy Pelosi’s increasingly socialist Democrat House. The best thing to come out of the president’s willingness to fight is that weak-kneed Republicans will learn not to cower in fear when Democrats threaten a shutdown.
The debate over whether or not to fund $5.7 billion for President Trump’s wall and border security measures is a topline issue. But there’s an elephant in the room, and it’s bigger than any proposed wall. Appropriators of both parties routinely use “shutdown” fears to jam through the over $4 trillion behemoth that is federal government spending each year. While it may seem hard to imagine today, the quarter of the federal government that has been shuttered since December will eventually re-open. And when it does, the question is will we be left with the same systemic problem we started out with: a bloated government that spends without regard to our nation’s economic future.
Club for Growth does not take positions on immigration, but we do advance free-market economic policies. And that entails supporting policies that reduce the size and scope of the federal government in order to secure economic prosperity for our children and future generations of Americans. President Trump deserves much credit for advancing that cause and for all its work rolling back the regulatory monstrosity that was the Obama administration’s nanny state.
But fundamental to the size of government is the amount of funding Congress allocates it to spend. That’s where the most recent Republican Congresses have gone off the reservation. For example, just look at the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill that both houses passed in spring of 2018. President Trump was justified in considering a veto of the legislation at the time.
Sadly, this year Republicans in Congress repeated the spending orgy — but simply broke the omnibus up into two smaller bills called “minibuses” and a continuing resolution that together maintain the same level of spending in the earlier omnibus. Setting aside whatever may be the ultimate resolution on wall funding, when the government gets up and running again, we will still have a $22 trillion national debt. So, what about spending cuts? What about the spending reforms in President Trump’s budget?
Looking at the current partial government shutdown strictly from a purely dollars and cents perspective, the Democrats’ prolonged shutdown does them no favors. Ironically, by some estimates a government shutdown costs the U.S. economy roughly $6.5 billion per week. In case the Democrats forgot, President Trump is only asking for $5.6 billion got his wall.
However, this is not to say an end to the partial government shutdown should be rushed. With the exception of the bloated bureaucracies that are only partially shutdown, the “essential” parts of government keep working in a shutdown — most Americans are not affected. The shutdown is a good reminder that we have more government than we need. The president has shown Republicans they don’t need to fear a shutdown. Now Congress needs to change its profligate ways and start cutting spending.
David McIntosh is president of Club for Growth, a nonprofit group that advocates for limited government. He represented Indiana in the United States House from 1995-2001.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.