If you don't want government spending to grow in perpetuity, it's OK to assault you. Or at least that's what Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.) seemed to imply when he took umbrage at Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for an ultimately futile attempt to hold up a nearly $400 billion increase in government spending.
In an hours-long floor speech last night, Paul excoriated both parties for their fiscal intemperance. "When Rand Paul pulls a stunt like this, it easy to understand why it's difficult to be Rand Paul's next-door neighbor," Dent then told Politico, referring to the neighbor who assaulted Paul and broke several of his ribs last year. "The whole delay and filibuster exercise on the budget agreement is utterly pointless."
Singer/actress Bette Milder was more blunt, tweeting this during Paul's mini-filibuster:
Where's Rand Paul's neighbor when we need him?
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) February 9, 2018
More frustrating than these tasteless jokes is the idea that underlies them: that an attempt to rein in federal spending, or even just to have an honest and open conversation about how broken the Congressional budgeting process has become, is just an annoying waste of everybody's time.
Dent, the chairman of the House's moderate Tuesday Group, is the epitome of the go-along-to-get-along kind of Republican who works hand in hand with Democrats to increase debt, bust budgets, and generally oversee an expansion of the government into more and more aspects of American life.
When the $800 billion bank bailout was before the House in 2008, Dent was happy to cast a vote in favor of it. At the beginning of 2017, when it looked like Republicans might have a real chance of ditching Obamacare, Dent's Tuesday Group worked overtime to ensure any "repeal" bill left most features of the law intact.
And yesterday, when Congress was considering a budget bill that would lavish $165 billion on our already bloated military, plus another $131 billion in other spending, Dent just wanted everyone to shut up and vote yes so he could go home for the evening.
The fact that Paul temporarily blocked the bill aggravated Dent far more than the actual bill itself shows Dent's priorities as a legislator. And those priorities are evidently shared by a majority of congressional Republicans, even if they chose to express their annoyance in a more tactful manner.