Republican Big Spending Déjà Vu — All Over Again - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Republican Big Spending Déjà Vu — All Over Again

As the 2016 Major League Baseball season gets underway, I’m reminded of the famous quote attributed to Yankee legend Yogi Berra: “it’s like déjà vu all over again!” Only, I’m not talking about the Yanks’ Opening Day loss — I’m talking about the GOP spenders in Congress setting the Republican Party up for failure come November.

The issue, of course, is pork. It’s almost always pork. And as we know, pork begets cronyism, and cronyism? Cronyism enables corruption, and it begets failure for the Republicans who support it.

I’ve been to this dance before. Ten years ago, during the 2006 cycle, the GOP was reeling after congressional scandals were calling into question just whether Republicans had betrayed their core value of reducing spending when they held both the Congress and the Presidency. Republican appropriators, said conservative stalwart Grover Norquist, were like a “Fifth Column,” whose transactional approach to the political process revitalized the essence of cronyism, “pay to play”.

When we talk about money in politics, it is this “transactional” approach that we need to guard against — the idea that someone makes a (sizable) campaign contribution to get some sort of direct monetary benefit. “Special interests” aren’t the problem (since everything is a “special interest”). It’s those who want money: grants, subsidies, contracts… and special tax breaks. Like those for green energy.

For those who want to siphon massive amounts of money from the public fisc, green energy is the latest cause célèbre. The PR is terrific — after all, who could possibly be against green energy? But the reality is, since most so-called “green” technologies are simply “not ready for prime time,” they require massive amounts of public money in order to prop them up, and this means easy money for those who seek it.

It goes far beyond the Solyndras of the world. In 2014, liberal activist Tom Steyer was the single-largest campaign donor, spending nearly $100 million. But Steyer wasn’t spending… Steyer was investing. He knew that his donations could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in support money for his green boondoggles. It’s reminiscent of George Bailey’s admonition to the people of Bedford Falls in It’s A Wonderful Life, “Potter’s not selling, Potter’s buying!”

But despite these lessons. Despite the fact that cronyism, or, as the left calls it, “corporate welfare” is roundly decried on both the right and the left, despite the fact that the GOP lost the Congress in 2006 in no small measure on the issue of cronyism and spending, here we are again, in 2016.

In December, Congress purposefully allowed a series of tax credits for so-called “green” energies to expire. This was not some mere oversight as some have alleged, but a purposeful recognition that as the energy landscape has changed, the need to extend some two dozen of these credits was unwarranted. Others were allowed to continue — but roughly $1.5 billion were not.

But now, four months later, claiming that the expiration of these tax credits was a mistake, members of Congress on both the left and the right have tacked them back into a must-pass FAA reauthorization bill. What do green energy tax credits have to do with the Federal Aviation Administration, you might ask? Absolutely nothing — except the crony capitalists in green energy need their credits, and the FAA’s reauthorization is the nearest piece of essential legislation that these folk can sink their hooks into.

Nearly three-dozen free-market and limited-government organizations have sent a letter to Congress voicing their strong opposition to this — for a host of policy and procedural reasons.

But the political ramifications are clear, as history has taught us. Republicans who give in to cronyism, who give in to profligate spending… they get nothing in the end. Worse, they do considerable damage to the concept that Republicans are the party of lower spending and less government. In a political cycle where the future is entirely uncertain for Republicans at all levels, those who are pushing for these tax breaks do their colleagues no great service.

It’s déjà vu all over again. We’ve seen how this all plays out before — and if things continue the way they are, the GOP could be doomed to repeat 2006 this fall.

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