Just as winter follows autumn, Republicans become concerned about spending when the Democrats are in power.
“Deficits don't matter,” Darth President Dick Cheney said while Dubya's administration lined up the affluent at the trough for enormous tax breaks, squandering the budget surplus left by Bill Clinton — his wallet was the one thing he could keep in his pants.
Now, Republicans have rediscovered “Fiscally Responsible Jesus” as evidenced by their recent histrionics over raising the debt ceiling to pay off bills they ran up when they further richified the rich with even more massive tax breaks under Trump — the most massive-ist ever!
According to the usual blueprint, if we gave billionaires more money, some of it would tumble out of their overflowing pockets like parade candy. It would pay for itself! Predictably, as soon as that prediction proved pernicious, Mitch McConnell began threatening Medicare cuts. A rising tide drowns those who can't afford a boat.
Herr Trump pledged to eliminate the national debt (insert laugh track), then added $8 trillion to the credit card. It's as close as he ever got to being Reaganesque. The Gipper tripled the national debt.
Republicans are either hypocrites or schizophrenic.
Under Clinton, with guidance from budget guru Kent Conrad, America was on course to be debt-free. However, Bush II doubled the debt and presided over the biggest meltdown since Mel Gibson got a DUI. Republicans then complained that Barack Obama didn't pull the economy out of the ditch quickly enough. Let's add amnesia to schizophrenia and hypocrisy.
Now that Joe Biden's been handed the baton three laps down, they're whining again, this time about a long-overdue infrastructure bill. No one in Washington really believed a $3.5 trillion bill was going to pass. It's a negotiation. It has to be because the Democrats don't have a real majority in the Senate. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema are DINO's.
Manchin's hands are tied. Just as North Dakota Democrats Conrad, Dorgan, Heitkamp and Pomeroy had to be mindful of their conservative constituents' wishes, so, too, does Manchin in the most pro-Trump state in the union. North Dakota's No. 2.
Manchin's a walking miracle in the Senate but he's on a tightrope. If he doesn't reflect some fiscal conservatism, he'll be out, and a DINO is better than a RINO for Democrats. Same deal with Sinema, who's been vacuuming up political donations from Big Pharma in our legalized system of bribery in preparation for her 2024 campaign. To win, she must abide by the wishes of Arizonians, which apparently include paying higher prices for Xanax. Exorbitant drug prices increase anxiety which requires more medication. It's a brilliant, vicious circle, really.
You're witnessing a necessary balancing act by the Biden administration. He lacks the tools to Build Back Better. You want change, Democrats? Elect more Democrats. Until the will of the people is reflected in a clear majority, change will be incremental.
It takes decades of work from the bottom up as illustrated by Republicans. The GOP's been declared DOA several times in my lifetime but they keep rising from the crypt like Michael Myers on Halloween. Only with more malevolence. We can, however, put a stake in the heart of the myth that Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility. They're the party of the rich.
Tony Bender writes an exclusive weekly column for Forum News Service. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of this publication, nor Forum Communications ownership.