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Republican Congress Delivers a Year to Forget

Blowing the budget left and right

Paul RyanMeet the PressA tumultuous year for the Republican-led Congress has come to an end. If you were a supporter of the GOP establishment's shallow goal to show the country that it could "govern" by passing bloated spending bills, congratulations. If you're a special interest, congratulations are probably in order, as well. If, however, you held out hope that the GOP would put up a fight for smaller government, I hope the New Year's Eve champagne helps with the disappointment.

Let's get something straight: It wasn't a tumultuous year for the Republican Congress because of the Democratic opposition. Oh, sure, there was the usual partisan bickering and political point scoring. But that was just gamesmanship, because the Democrats knew all along that they merely had to wait the GOP out. The Republican establishment had long ago telegraphed its intention to sneak through 2015 in order to focus on maintaining control of Congress and adding the White House in 2016.

No, the source of the turmoil was intraparty, and it occurred because a small, stubborn group of more fiscally prudent Republicans refused to quietly acquiesce to the politically expedient motivations of then-House Speaker John Boehner and his allies. Tired of watching the Boehner machine consistently losing battles that it never wanted to fight to begin with, the rebels made life increasingly difficult for the K Street-friendly GOP leadership. That culminated in the collecting of Boehner's scalp in the fall.

Enter the new speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, whose "I don't want to be speaker, but if I agree to do the job, then I expect the troops to fall in line" approach was reminiscent of Frank Underwood's feigned reluctance to seek the White House on the popular television series "House of Cards." The rebels promptly backed down, and the reunited GOP just as promptly got to work on passing a series of horrible bills with critical help from their colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

Immediately after Ryan's ascension to the throne, Republicans and Democrats agreed to a two-year budget framework that scrapped the limit on the federal debt ($18.8 trillion and counting) and busted—for the second time—caps on spending that were put in place only four years ago. Congressional Republicans argued that the spending increases were offset, but that's only if one takes seriously offsets largely not occurring until 2025.

One shouldn't.

After that, transportation lobbyists scored a long-sought-after victory with the passage of a five-year transportation bill that sets the stage for higher levels of federal spending and perhaps tax increases in the future. Perhaps most insultingly, the transportation bill reauthorized the notoriously crony Export-Import Bank of the United States, which had expired in the summer thanks to a popular revolt against corporate welfare. Sadly, the undue influence of the large corporations that benefited from the bank's subsidies and their K Street allies ultimately could not be overcome.

There was also passage of the absurdly named Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced the lamentable and equally absurdly named No Child Left Behind Act. Those wishing to see every student succeed should be advocating the complete extraction of federal involvement in education. Instead, Republicans teamed with Democrats to keep the federal government's tentacles firmly entrenched in the classroom.

The spending spree concluded with a 2,000-plus-page omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2016, which will cost $1.1 trillion, and a $680 billion bill renewing tax breaks that were set to expire. The combined package was a massive Christmas gift from Congress to the throngs of lobbyists who made sure that Beltway Santa fulfilled their wish lists. What about the needs of taxpayers? Congress, bless its generous heart, gave the IRS an extra $290 million to help the government's revenue collectors provide better service.

Happy 2016!

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Photo Credit: Meet the Press

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  • Pat (PM)||

    This is why we need [some candidate] 2016, to clean up Washington.

  • EndTheGOP||

    Pat -- Trump is the LAST chance this country has of remaining a capitalist country. If Hillary wins she brings the senate and probably the house with her, and she gets to nominate 2 or 3 supreme court justices, and then it's over, socialism wins.

    So it's either Trump or it's socialism. Those are our only choices.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Keep on idioting...dumbass.

  • Fun at Parties||

    End the GOP has a point here. Trump is our only hope of not slipping down the slippery slope of socialism.

  • B. Woodrow Chippenhaus||

    Yes, that is exactly how to fill out the 2016 GOP "Most Important Election Ever!!" MadLib. In 2012 it went like this:

    Romney is the LAST chance this country has of remaining a capitalist country. If Obama wins he brings the senate and probably the house with him, and he gets to nominate 2 or 3 supreme court justices, and then it's over, socialism wins.

    So it's either Romney or it's socialism. Those are our only choices.

    Yawn.

  • Suicidy||

    The real last chance is the armed revolution that I forsee. And that is probably a lot more realistic than someone reforming the system at this point. The socialists need their numbers eliminated, or at least greatly reduced. Electing the right person is at best a temporary measure. unless they do a lot of things none of you here are willing to back.

    I have friends (shocker, I know) who tell me that sounds crazy. But I notice that each year they react less incredulously. A few now are starting to think that I might actually be right.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Yeah, isn't the Libertarian Moment wonderful?!

  • Rockabilly||

    The socialist crybabies win in the end. They lock themselves in the bathroom and cry until daddy gives them a bigger allowance.

  • Win Bear||

    Give credit where it's due: they didn't pass a lot of bills. I think that's something to celebrate.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    You don't need to pass "a lot" of bills if you roll everything into a Crapnibus.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    We got rid of the Big Crier, and replaced him with Little Beard.
    It is difficult to think how much worse it could be.

  • CarolGuzman||

    Im making over $9k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do,

    ---------- http://www.onlinejobs100.com

  • B. Woodrow Chippenhaus||

    Anyone else remember what a tight-fisted, penny pinching, fiscal hawk Paul Ryan was touted as back when he was Romney's pick for VP?

  • MegaRog||

    The Republicans won seats by CLAIMING they would do this and that while doing nothing they promised. I didn't anticipate Ryan being any different from Boehner.

  • MegaRog||

    The Republicans won seats by CLAIMING they would do this and that while doing nothing they promised. I didn't anticipate Ryan being any different from Boehner.

  • MegaRog||

    The Republicans won seats by CLAIMING they would do this and that while doing nothing they promised. I didn't anticipate Ryan being any different from Boehner.

  • MegaRog||

    The Republicans won seats by CLAIMING they would do this and that while doing nothing they promised. I didn't anticipate Ryan being any different from Boehner.

  • Jason Vick||

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