Hey GOP establishment! Want to know why 59 percent of Republican primary voters are supporting outsiders, and the GOP electorate is so angry they don’t trust anyone who has ever held elective office?
Look no further than the disastrous budget deal outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate GOP leaders just negotiated with President Obama.
The deal raises discretionary spending by $112 billion over the next two years and suspends the debt limit through March 15, 2017, after Obama leaves office. The bill passed in the ostensibly Republican-controlled House only thanks to the near-unanimous backing of 187 House Democrats.
With deals like this, the GOP deserves Donald Trump.
Republican leaders claim that all the new spending is offset by spending cuts elsewhere. But according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, that is not true. “We estimate that when interest is added and gimmicks are removed, only half of the bill’s cost is truly paid for,” the committee declared.
For example, Republican leaders claim that part of the new spending is “paid for” by selling 58 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve between now and 2025. But when the Congressional Budget Office scored the bill, it was directed to assume that the oil would be sold for $87 per barrel – which is about twice the current price. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, oil won’t likely reach that price again until 2026.
In another gimmick, Republicans moved Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp premium payments forward by one month beginning in 2025, shifting them into the next fiscal year, a timing change which magically “saves” $2.6 billion.
This is the kind of budget trickery that drives Republican voters crazy — and rightly so.
What did the GOP get in exchange? The deal includes a desperately needed boost in defense spending, but this came at a cost of political capitulation. Obama took funding for our men and women in uniform hostage, refusing to raise defense spending unless Republicans agreed to commensurate increases in domestic spending. In this deal, Republicans cried uncle and gave him what he wanted.
The truth is the only thing Republicans got out of this deal was incumbent self-protection. Obama got his domestic spending increases, while Republicans got to avoid a debt ceiling or government shut down standoff before the next election.
GOP leaders were willing to give up principled governance for political gain. The budget deal’s stated purpose was to “clear the decks” for new Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) so he would not inherit tough political fights with Obama right after taking office. Boehner capitulated so Ryan would not have to.
No wonder GOP voters don’t trust their elected leaders, and are turning to outsiders in the presidential election. It is no coincidence that while the outsiders are surging, not one single current or former GOP elected official is in double digits in the Real Clear Politics polling average . Indeed, if you add up support for all the current and former elected officials — Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Rick Santorum — together those 11 candidates have the backing of just 35 percent of GOP electorate.
Republican voters are fed up. They were told: “We need to win the House to block Obama!” So they elected a Republican House — and nothing changed. Then they were told: “That’s not good enough, we need to win the Senate, too.” So they elected a Republican Senate. And the result is this budget capitulation.
The message to the grassroots is clear: Elected Republicans care more about their own preservation than they care about principle.
If the Republican establishment wonders why Donald Trump has been surging in the polls, they need only look in the mirror. They are the Dr. Frankensteins that created the Trump monster that is now wreaking havoc on the GOP village. They have no one to blame but themselves.