Another Republican majority has come and gone. And with nothing to show for it.
Although Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress under a Democratic president during two years of Harry Truman’s presidency, the last six years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, there have been three times in recent history when the Republican Party had absolute control of the government.
The Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress during the first two years of Republican Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency.
The Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress for over four years during the presidency of Republican George W. Bush.
The Republicans have controlled both Houses of Congress since the presidential inauguration of Republican Donald Trump. However, because of Democratic gains in the recent midterm election, Republicans will lose control of the House when the next Congress (the 116th) meets in January.
Republicans under Eisenhower could have repealed the New Deal. They didn’t. And the road was paved for a massive welfare state.
Republicans under Bush could have repealed the Great Society. They didn’t. And the welfare state was expanded yet again.
Republicans under Trump could have repealed Obamacare. They didn’t. And the welfare state became inexorably entrenched.
Economist Walter Williams of George Mason University recently pointed out the terrible truth about government spending:
Tragically, two-thirds to three-quarters of the federal budget can be described as Congress taking the rightful earnings of one American to give to another American—using one American to serve another. Such acts include farm subsidies, business bailouts, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, and many other programs.
This is just as true under Trump and his Republican majority in Congress as it ever was.
In baseball it is three strikes and you’re out, but not in politics. In the months before the next election, Republicans will tell Americas that they should vote Republican so they can regain the House of Representatives in order to rein in government spending, reduce the size of the government, restore the Constitution, cut government waste, eliminate unnecessary regulations, fix the economy, and make America great again. And millions of Americans will believe them, vote for them, and give them yet another chance to not only do none of these things, but to make things even worse.
But of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. Republicans under Eisenhower could have done something. Republicans under Bush could have done something. Republicans under Trump could have done something. In fact, Republicans could have done almost anything.
So, what could the Republicans have done?
Could Republicans have eliminated Medicaid? Of course. Could Republicans have eliminated food stamps? Certainly. But let’s be realistic. Although Republicans could have at least made some real cuts to these programs, there is no way that they would ever try to abolish them. Even if they actually had some philosophical aversion to these programs, it would be politically inexpedient for them to try to abolish them.
What then, could the Republicans have actually done? What is the best we could have hoped for?
Here are twenty reasonable things that the Republicans could have done:
- Repeal Obamacare in its entirety
- Abolish the National Endowment for the Arts
- Abolish the National Endowment for the Humanities
- Eliminate refundable tax credits
- Eliminate the Department of Education
- Stop cash welfare payments
- Cease funding any scientific research on climate change
- Means test all welfare programs
- Abolish the TSA and returned airport security to the private sector
- Eliminate CAFE standards
- Allow people to sell their bodily organs upon their death
- Defund Planned Parenthood
- End the federal war on marijuana and leave the issue up to the states
- End the embargo against Cuba and allow Americans to freely travel there
- Eliminate all foreign aid
- End all restrictions on the production of hemp
- Eliminate all funding for manned and unmanned missions to Mars
- Privatize the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
- Abolish the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
- End all farm subsidies
And Republicans certainly could have eliminated Daylight Saving Time.
Not only could Republicans have done these things, they could have done them the first month that they had absolute control of the government. But they, as usual, did nothing.
Republicans are worse than useless. They are welfare statists just like Democrats. There is not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties. Libertarians who hold their nose and vote Republican when there are no libertarians on the ballot are wasting their vote.
Another Republican majority has come and gone. And with nothing to show for it—except a massive welfare state, perpetual war, a federal budget over $4 trillion, and a national debt over $21.7 trillion.