Free Minds & Free Markets

How GOP Fiscal Sanity Died, in 7 Easy Steps

Here are the moments when Republicans, including professed deficit hawks, snuffed out the 2009-2014 flicker of budgetary sanity

And then there were three. ||| Rand PaulRand Paul"I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits," a rightly outraged Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Thursday. "Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits. I can't in all honesty look the other way." Now more than ever, Rand stands nearly alone.

The turnabout in fiscal approach just since Paul's 2010 Tea Party wave election is enough to snap vertebrae. "Republicans repeal the Tea Party," ran the headline of Philip Klein's Washington Examiner piece, and it's hard to argue with his logic: "Despite many setbacks, the Tea Party had one tangible achievement to show for all of the havoc it caused: the enactment of spending caps that resulted from the 2011 standoff over raising the debt ceiling….In 2017, for the first time in the post-Tea Party era, Republicans finally gained unified control of government….They have now agreed on a deal with Democrats that would blow up the spending caps that were a legacy of the Tea Party movement—to the tune of $300 billion over the next two years."

When the first Tea Party senators and congressmen were sworn in, Washington was already filled with urgent talk of deficit reduction, spending restraints, and long-term entitlement reform. Yet eight years and $10 trillion of debt later, precisely none of that is on the table anymore from either major political party. So what the hell happened?

Democrats, who have now succumbed fully to Bernie-style fantasia when it comes to what Bill Clinton warned about in his 2012 Democratic National Convention speech ("We've got to deal with this big long-term debt problem or it will deal with us"), have surely played their role. But they haven't run Congress since 2014, nor the White House since 13 months ago. There's a deep fiscal rot at the heart of Grand Old Party.

President Donald Trump inked the final surrender Friday—junking the sequestration caps, increasing the budget on both defense and nondefense discretionary spending by more than $100 billion each, waiving the debt ceiling for another year, all after debt and inflation worries triggered one of worst week in years for the stock market. But there were many missteps taken by Republicans, including hardcore Tea Party fiscal conservatives, that led us to a point where a GOP Congress and president signed a deal that the Committee for a Responsible Budget estimates could add more than $2 trillion in debt over the next decade. "This amount of deficit increase," the CFRB observed, "is unacceptable and the result of a budget process that has recently disregarded all constraints."

Some of these decisions were defensible in the moment, others remain hotly contested, and the more recent actions in particular were plum awful from the jump. Here, in chronological order, is my list of seven key forks in the road that led us to our current fiscal box canyon.

1) December 2010: Rejecting Simpson/Bowles

Yes, there were many reasons not to back the long-term budget recommendations made by the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, chaired by former senators Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, with the goal of balancing the budget by 2020 and re-jiggering old-age entitlements so that they don't swallow the government whole when the Baby Boomers retire. The plan accepted as a baseline reality that the federal government would consume an ahistorically high share of the economy. It didn't really touch Medicare, shied away from lopping off questionable federal departments and agencies, raised taxes.

But the framework they proposed—roughly, $2 trillion in future spending cuts, $1 trillion in future tax increases (much of it in payroll taxes), raising the retirement age on and doing some means-testing for Social Security, lowering personal and corporate income taxes, ditching many tax breaks (including mortgage-interest deductions), and imposing caps on discretionary spending—had three virtues that are now totally absent from the discussion: It aimed at least semi-credibly to balance the budget in 10 years, it put Social Security on much firmer fiscal footing, and it shared responsibility between the two major parties for tackling the country's hardest budgetary question.

The proposal never got voted out of committee. Needing 14 out of 18 votes to be forwarded to the full Congress for debate and then an up-or-down vote, the deal received just 11, with the nays including three House Republicans: Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Dave Camp (Michigan), and Paul Ryan (Wisconsin). Ryan, who had the nerve in 2012 to criticize then-President Barack Obama for not supporting the same Simpson/Bowles deal he himself voted against, was a main shepherd of this week's debacle.

Simpson/Bowles was flawed, but in some ways better than what it inspired—the Budget Control Act of 2011. That law, which this week's action effectively wipes off the books, did not touch entitlements or long-term deficit reduction (aside from prompting a new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which got much less further along than its predecessor). Instead, it included as punishment for the supercommittee's eventual failure spending caps that were lower than Simpson/Bowles', and tax hikes that were the most significant in 20 years.

||| ReasonReason2) May 2012: Choosing Mitt Romney

Romney, to a degree that escapes the notice of most political journalists, was in many ways an ideological precursor to Donald Trump. He was the GOP field's biggest hardass on immigration in 2012, and (as I wrote at that Republican National Convention), "campaigned on 'rebuilding' the military, restoring Medicare cuts, and shoring up Social Security." Sound familiar?

The Tea Party was then too embryonic to mount candidates, though Ron Paul was busy doubling up on his 2008 run. The selection of Paul Ryan has V.P. nominee was seen as a sop to emerging fiscal hawks, even though Romney rejected Ryan's most famous entitlement proposals, and the keen-eyed among us had a bad feeling about the Wisconsinite's philosophical reliability.

Still, what Romney did was prove that—counterintuitively!—you can run and win on big-government conservatism in a GOP primary even in the midst of a populist limited-government revolt. Slot that ideology into someone who actually resonates with the culture and aspirations of the fed-up grassroots, and you have, well, Donald Trump.

3) May 2013: Walking away from bicameral budget negotiations

This one's already been memory-holed, but it really shouldn't be, not least because at least one Tea Party senator, Utah's Mike Lee, was central to the dubious call.

Long story short, House Republicans in 2013, after arguably getting their bells rung on fiscal cliff negotiations at the beginning of the year, pulled off a neat switcheroo: In return for kicking the then-contentious debt-ceiling deadline down the road a few months, then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) included as part of the deal a provision for the Senate to finally pass a damn budget, a nicety that governing Democrats in the upper chamber had all but abandoned.

Then something wondrous happened: The Senate passed a budget, and just two days after the House passed its own. One was Democratic and taxy, the other was Republican and cutty, but it was basically $3.7 trillion vs. $3.5 trillion, meaning that all you'd need was the usual partisan theatrics followed by a bipartisan conference committee that would arrive, kicking and screaming, at $3.6 trillion, essentially flat year-on-year. There have been worse outcomes.

||| ReasonReasonWhich Mike Lee and his pals in the Senate promptly chose. Before conference negotiations could begin, the Tea Party caucus simply refused to appoint conferees. After bitching righteously for years about the fundamental irresponsibility of not passing budgets, conservatives held their breaths and turned purple rather than finish what they'd finally managed to start. Lee claimed he was merely preventing a "backroom deal" from being foisted onto an unsuspecting public, sounding perfectly juvenile in his explanation: "We are fully aware that Washington and the establishment in both parties don't like what we're saying….In case no one's noticed, the way Washington works stinks."

All of this became precursor to the Ted Cruz/Mark Meadows October 2013 government shutdown, whose unpopularity and practical ineffectiveness would neutralize one of the Tea Party's best negotiating tools for restraining spending under Obama: the debt ceiling.

4) February 2014: Waving away the debt ceiling.

Having lost the taste for brinkmanship during the Ted Cruz adventure two months prior, Republicans first passed a Paul Ryan-negotiated budget deal lifting some of the spending caps, then resigned themselves in February 2014 to just suspend the debt ceiling for a year, no conditions attached. "Republicans are trying to put Tea Party politics in the rear view mirror," observed then-Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at the time. Boy, were they.

Literally the moment the GOP re-took control of the Senate that November, incoming Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this: "Let me make it clear: There will be no government shutdowns and no default on the national debt." The debt-ceiling extension was soon extended through 2017; President Trump and Schumer re-upped it last September, and on Friday waved it on through until 2019.

5) April 2016: Choosing Donald Trump

Candidate Donald Trump did not spend much time talking about deficits and debts on the campaign trail, and when he did it was often nonsensical. You could almost feel the exasperation of forecasters attempting to measure the effect his various proposals would have on long-term finances.

This much is clear, though: Like Mitt Romney only moreso, Trump not only ran against but openly mocked conservative plans to trim the welfare state. Like Romney only moreso, he made extravagant promises to jack up immigration enforcement, and rebuild the allegedly depleted military. Add on top of that a trillion-dollar infrastructure ambition and some anti-Romneyesque views on Mercantilist trading policies, and you have a right-wing economic populism at odds with limited-government ideas.

Chances are more than strong that observers who detected a strong new grassroots taste for cutting government back in 2009-2010 were overrating the role of policy ideas in the Tea Party, and underrating the ideologically incoherent cultural and tribal components of it all. As the libertarian-leaning Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told me last year, when describing his attempts to campaign in Iowa for his friend Rand Paul's presidential campaign:

I thought the libertarian ideology within the Republican party was really catching on, that it was popular. But then when I went to Iowa I saw that the same people that had voted for Ron Paul weren't voting for Rand Paul, they were voting for Donald Trump. And the same thing happened in Kentucky, the people who were my voters ended up voting for Donald Trump in the primary. And so I was in a funk because how could these people let us down? How could they go from being libertarian ideologues to voting for Donald Trump? And then I realized what it was: They weren't voting for the libertarian in the race, they were voting for the craziest son of a bitch in the race when they voted for me and Rand and Ron earlier. So Trump just won, you know, that category, but dumped the ideological baggage.

6) April 2017: Failing to pass a budget.

The Budget Control Act of 1974 lays out a process by which Congress is supposed to deliberate on and pass a dozen appropriations bills every year by certain deadlines. When out of power, Republicans bitterly noted that the law has only been followed properly four years since. Since taking control over both houses, the GOP has upheld this disreputable tradition.

The best thing you can say about this week's agreement is that at least it's a two-year bipartisan budget deal. But it still did not go through anything like a normal voting and amendment process, and if anything just puts a longer time frame on the usual business of 21st congressional work—governing through last-minute, must-pass monstrosities that no one has read.

When the 2011 Budget Control Act still placed some restraints on continuing resolutions, there was a theoretical side-benefit to the irresponsibility: At least they couldn't spend too much. Now that those shackles are officially removed, we have the worst of both worlds—congenital avoidance of deliberation and on-the-record votes, along with literally no ceiling on expenditures. Wheee!

7) October 2017: Agreeing on $1.5 trillion in new deficits

There is no greater poster child for the death of the Tea Party than Mick Mulvaney. In March 2015, the then-Freedom Caucus member of the House of Representatives, wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined: "The Republican Budget Is a Deficit Bust," which argued that "There is no honest way to justify not paying for spending, no matter how often my fellow Republicans try."

What was Mulvaney's tune just 30 months later as a key economic-policy player in the Trump administration? "We need to have new deficits." At that point the white flag was just a formality.

It came two weeks later, in the form of the Senate's 51-49 approval of a 10-year budget blueprint that—even based on hopelessly optimistic numbers—consciously raised cumulative debt by $1.5 trillion. This was the necessary parliamentary precondition for passing tax cuts on party lines two months later. After that the only real drama was exactly how the Senate's purported fiscal hawks would end up justifying voting in favor of a tax deal they had long claimed must be deficit neutral, not deficit-exploding.


Is there a political ticket out of this mess? Not through the Republican Party, as currently constituted. As Mulvaney presciently warned us three years ago,

Until this budget, Republicans were beginning to convince people that they were serious about reducing spending. GOP budgets in recent years have made hard decisions on everything from defense to Medicare to food stamps. Republicans had begun making the argument that all spending is subject to scrutiny. Now there is a new message: Republicans will cut things they don't like, but they lack that same conviction on things they like.

Because of the hard decisions that defense hawks and deficit hawks had made together, Republicans were gaining the moral high ground on spending. Last week we lost it, and it will be harder to regain the next time.

It will be a long time, if ever, before Republican complaints (from anyone not named Paul, Amash, or Massie) about debt, deficits, and federal spending will be met with anything but gales of laughter. The question is more whether anyone besides those three will ever bring the subject up. It's certainly not on the front burner of the party's unchallenged leader. We could soon be in a season where the only alarm bells at Washington's reckless spending will be rung not by national politicians, but by bond traders.

In memoriam:

Photo Credit: Rand Paul's Twitter feed

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Maddow's Fleshlight||

    hihn is also robert and they shat all over this thread

  • Robert||

    I'd expected Hihn to be on the opposite side of this one!

  • Eidde||

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's easy to stand alone when his grandstanding has no chance of success.

    Empty gestures with no chance of succeeding have few negative consequences because they'll never succeed.

    Where was Rand Paul when the Senate was voting to cut $1.022 trillion and $772 billion of that from Medicaid?

    I'll tell you where he was: he voted against that bill.

    Fiscal conservatism is as fiscal conservatism does, and grandstanding doesn't do anything.

  • Eidde||

    He has no chance of success in the current climate whether he "grandstands" or not.

    His only option is to work to change the climate. Maybe that means running for President.

  • Ken Shultz||

    He had a chance. When he had a chance, he voted to kill the spending cuts.

    The House passed a bill to cut spending by more than $1 trillion, about $800 billion of it from Medicaid, an entitlement program.

    The president lobbied hard for the senate bill I linked above, which likewise cut more than $1 trillion in spending, $772 billion of it from Medicaid. Trump called Rand Paul personally to try to convince him to vote for it.

    When the bill came up on the senate floor, Rand Paul voted against it--with Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Elizabeth Warren.

    That's not how I feel.

    That's what he did.

    I will not forget it anytime soon.

    I don't care what you do when it doesn't matter. When it matters, that's when it matters.

  • vek||

    I think that was pretty dumb, but the truth is that it wasn't going to pass anyway as I recall, so I think he felt like he could vote against it on principle because of other bad parts of the bill.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The reason it didn't pass was because five senators from red states--led by Rand Paul--voted against it because of what it supposedly didn't do--not because of what it did.

    If those five ostensibly fiscally conservative senators had voted for the bill to cut $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending, it would have put tremendous pressure on Dean Heller, Murkowski, or Susan Collins from Maine to cast the deciding vote in the bill's favor.

    I argued that at the time, that one of those three would have to cave if they were the only Republican senator holding out, but that was before Susan Collins caved when she was the only senator holding out on the tax reform bill. I was right when I predicted that she would cave under those circumstance, and now that she actually succumbed to pressure on the tax reform bill, there's no longer any speculation about it.

    If Rand Paul and his foolish followers hadn't sold fiscal conservatism down the river so they could grandstand on the issue, we'd have cut $1.022 trillion from the budget. It would have been the first time Medicaid, an entitlement program, was ever cut. It wasn't cut because of "fiscal conservatives" like Rand Paul voting against it--and along with Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Elizabeth Warren.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I suspect Paul did it because Kentucky is one of the states hardest hit by the opioid addiction crisis, and they're also among the states with the highest Medicaid participation rates. Regardless, applauding Rand Paul for grandstanding on fiscal conservatism now is patently absurd.

    An actor acts. A swimmer swims. An author writes. A libertarian fiscal conservative votes to cut entitlement spending. As a libertarian fiscal conservative, Rand Paul makes an excellent ophthalmologist.

  • vek||

    All true, and dumb. As a gesture I think he should have voted for it, no matter how flawed, versus gesturing that it wasn't hardcore enough, which is essentially his stance.

    Oh well, not everybody can be Ron Paul... Not even his less awesome curly haired son!

  • Robert||

    The other parts were only "bad" because they weren't as good as we would've liked to be enacted. But they were the best we were going to get, & significantly better than the status quo.

    What kind of principle can Rand stand on now? Even if it didn't pass, at least voting for it would've identified him as a serious, responsible budget cutter. I was furious then. I don't know how he maintains such great cred @ HyR, but then the same could be asked of Amash. Seems we pick certain horses & continue to back them even when they turn off the track. Also certain hobby horses to be over-critical of while they mostly do good.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Two quick points:

    1) It's an election year.

    It's silly to expect elected politicians to be more ideologically rigid than swing voters. There's this thing called "democracy".

    2) The Republicans in the House passed a bill that cut more than $1 trillion in spending. The Senate would passed a bill that would have cut $1 trillion from the same programs.

    It didn't pass because of the objections of Rand Paul, Reason, and other so called fiscal conservatives, who claim to care about fiscal conservatism, but objected to cutting $1.022 trillion in spending and $772 billion from Medicaid, an entitlement program.

    Spare me criticism of elected Republicans who aren't really fiscal conservatives--when it was the establishment GOP that voted to cut more than a trillion from entitlement programs. Fiscal conservatism is as fiscal conservatism does, and the reason we didn't cut more than a $1 trillion in entitlement spending isn't because of the establishment GOP. It's because Rand Paul, Reason, and others shit all over the bill that would have cut that spending.

    Now you want credit for being fiscal conservatives again?

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, . . .

    You won't fool me twice.

  • Eidde||

    So, Rand Paul voted against a budget-cutting bill because he's against budget cuts?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I've actually heard his explanation, and it's preposterous.

    Do you oppose cutting $1.022 trillion in spending if it doesn't also get rid of the requirement to cover preexisting conditions, and if you oppose cutting $1.022 trillion in spending for that reason, do you still expect people to think of you as a fiscal conservative?

  • Eidde||

    As I understand it, if you have a pre-existing condition ban, you will at some point need to compensate insurers for the extra expense, or else have them risk bankruputcy. Did the bill Rand voted against make provision for this problem?

    Is there any poison pill so poisonous that it would make a budget-cut bill undesirable?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Can you give me a list of problems that need to be solved before you can support cutting $1.022 trillion in spending--and still be considered a fiscal conservative?

  • Eidde||

    Yeah, the debt.

    If you keep the pre-existing conditions provision in the health care law, that may lead to demands for more spending if the insurance companies can't survive on their own.

    "Look, we're cutting spending (while setting the stage for much more spending by this other part of the bill which I hope you will overlook)!"

  • Eidde||

    Anyway, I asked first - is there any poison pill to poisonous?

    What about a Deficit Reduction and Executing Terrorist Suspects Without Trial bill?

    Or the Deficit Reduction, Free Puppies, and appointing a Caudillo To Serve For Life and Make All Our Law For Us Bill?

  • Eidde||

    *too* poisonous

  • Robert||

    Anyway, I asked first - is there any poison pill to poisonous?

    Of course, all the time we're making judgments on expected mixed effects. But who's the fool who'd think otherwise? What has that to do w the actual hx before us?

  • Ken Shultz||

    You oppose cutting $1.022 trillion from the budget, $772 billion of it from a socialist entitlement program--because you're worried about "the debt"?!

    There's this thing called intellectual honesty, and it requires us to call a spade a spade, even when doing so makes our favorite rock stars look bad.

    Besides the total betrayal of small government and capitalist principles that Rand Paul's indefensible vote represented, the thing that bothers me most is the way it made a fool out of all my fellow well-meaning libertarians, who continue to cling to the idea of Rand Paul even after the reality has proven to be such a disappointment.

    You end up tying yourself in irrational knots, all in the hope that this hero is somehow gonna save us.

    You're being played.

    When asked whether God was on his side, Abraham Lincoln is said to have replied something to the effect that, "The question is not whether God is on my side but whether I'm on his". I'd like to suggest to you that the question here isn't whether you're on Rand Paul's side but whether Rand Paul is on the side of fiscal conservatism.

    He says he's a fiscal conservative, but who cares what politicians say? When the time to cut $1.022 trillion in spending came, $772 billion of it cut from Medicaid, a low down, disgusting socialist program that badly distorts our healthcare markets, Rand Paul voted against cutting spending. That's what he did. That's who he is.

  • Eidde||

    "There's this thing called intellectual honesty, and it requires us to call a spade a spade, even when doing so makes our favorite rock stars look bad."

    Thank you for those inaccurate insinuations - I'm sure that everything else you say is equally accurate.

  • Eidde||

    I should add that I specifically criticized Rand Paul for his naive belief that the Supreme Court supported federalism when it came to states recognizing "same-sex marriage." I countered that the Supreme Court had no interest in federalism except as a temporary expedient, and that it was working to impose its version of marriage law on all the states.

    To repeat, I specifically singled out Rand Paul for criticism.

    So take your "rock star" slurs and put them where the sun doesn't shine (although you think the sun shines out of there).

  • Eidde||

    And while I answered your questions, you didn't trouble yourself to answer mine.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I've responded to everything that merits a response.

  • Eidde||

    I've gone far beyond that.

  • Deven||

    Ken, while RP is not perfect, perfect is the enemy of good.

    His reasons for voting no in that particular case could have been many; politicians are constantly voting no on bills that might have something that they like within them.

    I'd consider applying your intellect towards more deserving politicians.

  • Robert||

    His reasons for voting no in that particular case could have been many; politicians are constantly voting no on bills that might have something that they like within them.

    He stated about 3 reasons IIRC. None of them seemed worthy, in fact I don't even remember them, they were so unimpressive. I'm always looking at the details of bills, I know how it is, but I also know it's possible to put one over on some people by convincing them something's there that ain't.

    I'd consider applying your intellect towards more deserving politicians.

    They're all deserving. It's a mistake to be wedded to any of them, unless you expect your loyalty to be personally repaid. For the rest of us, who aren't in position to make a deal, everything & everyone is up for criticism.

    For instance, I think the current POTUS is possibly the best in my life (b. 1954). But plenty of individual things he does are untoward. If everything stays anywhere close to the current course, I'd support him for re-election because he's likely far & away the best we could reasonably get. I'd probably support Rand Paul for re-election too, likewise, but w a significant chance somebody better from Ky. could come along.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm the one pointing out that Rand Paul, supposedly, let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Because the bill didn't completely repeal the ACA, Rand Paul opposed cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending?

    That's Rand Paul letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    Not me.

    I'm willing to "settle" for $1.022 trillion in entitlement cuts.

    What Rand Paul got instead of a full repeal of the ACA was absolutely nothing.

  • Peter Duncan||

    Excerpts from the forthcoming book:

    Angy Ken's Hormonal Tsunami

  • Ken Shultz||

    Peter Duncan,

    I think I'd attack me personally in your position, too--if Rand Paul's vote were indefensible from a fiscally conservative perspective and I cared more about supporting Rand Paul then fiscal conservatism.

    How's it feel to defend the indefensible anyway?

    Rand Paul voted with Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Liz Warren, apparently to save Medicaid funding just like they did, too.

    If you can't defend Rand Paul's vote, then why not go ahead and lash out at me personally? Tell me, how's it feel to defend Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, and Liz Warren from a fiscally conservative/libertarian perspective?

    Does it make you feel like you want to lash out at Ken Shultz?

    Are you a progressive?

    On this issue, you might as well be.

    How's it feel to be a progressive? They lash out at people because their positions are otherwise indefensible, too.

  • Peter Duncan||

    Progressive? Fuck you, Nazi!

    How that taste, Angry Ken?

    Assumtions is all you have. Where the fuck did I support Rand Paul's vote in my comment to you? Please show me, I'll wait.

    In the meantime I'll continue to call you out on your bedwetting, virtue signaling rants.

  • Peter Duncan||

    By the way and for the record, I'm a fucking anarchist.

    Thanks for the cheap entertainment, AK!

  • Ken Shultz||

    An anarcho-capitalist?!

    You're an anarcho-capitalist who personally attacks people for going after a politician for refusing to kill $1.022 trillion in taxpayer spending on a socialist wealth redistribution program!


    If you think that's in any way consistent with anarcho-capitalism, then you don't know anything about it.

  • Robert||

    If you keep the pre-existing conditions provision in the health care law, that may lead to demands for more spending if the insurance companies can't survive on their own.

    "Look, we're cutting spending (while setting the stage for much more spending by this other part of the bill which I hope you will overlook)!"

    You're writing as if that bill created that problem. It did not. That problem was already there. The bill also didn't do anything about problem dandruff, the designated hitter, or the extinction of all life by collision of the Earth w a similarly massive body.

    Did you think that by defeating that bill, the pre-existing problem would then be addressed? It wasn't. What evidence was there to think so?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "You're writing as if that bill created that problem. It did not."

    I'd only add that voting against cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending wasn't the solution to the problem either.

    That bill did not create the problem, and voting against the bill that cut all that spending didn't solve the problem either.

  • Robert||

    True, but at least the bill more directly addressed the fiscal situation than getting rid of the pre-existing conditions mandate would.

  • AlmightyJB||

    That is not what I promised voters. I promised repeal

    Totally outlandish. A politician trying to keep his campaign promises. What a rube.

  • Ken Shultz||

    My point is that Rand Paul sold fiscal conservatism down the river when it mattered and only grandstands on the issue when there's no danger of his efforts actually having any real impact on entitlement spending--and to counter that, you cite an excellent example of Rand Paul grandstanding on the issue when it had no chance of passing?

    You're actually reinforcing my point.

    Thank you.

  • Eidde||

    Yes, he may pick up a few supporters who think he's just dreamy, but his appeal is to people with a more realistic worldview, who for precisely that reason aren't going to expect his every vote to be super-prudent and the best possible vote.

    Maybe he dropped the ball and should have taken half a loaf (if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor). There's a line somewhere between selling out and being realistic, and the line is constantly fluctuating and it's hard to tell where the line is at any particular moment. Voting against a couple bills which include bad content isn't a dealbreaker for me even if it turns out that the more prudent thing would have been to swallow hard and vote for those bills.

    It could be argued that he needs to differentiate himself from those who *never* make a vote out of conscience but always go along to get along - considering the bad agenda of the people he's supposed to be getting along with, this wouldn't be a good thing.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Graham Cassidy never made it to a vote.

    I'm talking about the bill Rand Paul voted against.

    I've linked it, what, two three times in this thread?

    The bill Rand Paul voted against got rid of the individual mandate, the employer mandate, slashed ObamaCare taxes like mad, and slashed entitlement spending by $1.022 trillion.

    What part of ObamaCare did the bill Rand Paul voted against not get rid of--that's so important that you oppose cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending?

    Do you still oppose cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending if whatever bill that does that doesn't also do whatever it was you wanted to get rid of by repealing ObamaCare?

    Are you saying that we shouldn't cut $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending because ObamaCare out of one side of your mouth--and complaining that the Republicans won't cut spending out of the other?

    Because that would be stupid horseshit.

  • Eidde||

    You seem angry, and apparently it blocks you from seeing what I actually wrote.

  • Ken Shultz||

    That wasn't in response to your comment.

    It was in response to Leo's.

  • Robert||

    Yeah, Rand's better than Ted, & I'd take The Rand in preference to The Donald. But as the 3 of them are currently arrayed in their respective offices, I can't anticipate whether they're going to act on any given matter just to spite each other or to actually do good.

  • AlmightyJB||

    GOO promised repeal, Trump promised repeal. He held their feet to the fire and said to weekday you said you were going to do if you want my support. You have no idea whether or not Rand would have voted for it had he been the deciding vote because it was clear that it was going down with or without him. Not voting for it could have been grandstanding or it could have been a negotiating strategy for future legislation. He is saying you better take me seriously.

  • Ken Shultz||

    So you're saying that because the world didn't work out the way we want it to, you're against cutting $1.022 trillion in spending?

    And you're also complaining about the fact that the GOP didn't cut spending?!

    I've noticed women sometimes demonstrate a capacity for holding two contradictory positions with equal enthusiasm, but that kind of logic escapes me.

    Meanwhile, Rand Paul said he wanted smaller government and less spending. When the bill to accomplish that came up in the senate, he voted against cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending.

    I'm not supposed to have any faith in the establishment GOP to do what they said they were going to do and be principled. Wasn't it Rand Paul who was supposed to be different? I'm not disappointed in the GOP because I didn't have much faith in them to begin with. If I can't depend on Rand Paul to vote to cut entitlement spending on a socialist program by $1.022 trillion, then what use is he to a fiscal conservative?

    As an anti-socialist, pro-capitalist, small government, fiscal conservative, he performed exactly as well as Bernie Sanders and Liz Warren.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Whoosh. That was my point going over your head.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Did you oppose the healthcare bill Rand Paul voted against that would have cut $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending?

    Are you now blaming Paul Ryan and the rest of the Republican party for not cutting spending?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Would it help your brain if you tried reading slower? Rand was was not the deciding vote and he knew he wasn't the deciding vote which means he gets to stick to his original offer. Since you don't know anything about negotiation and politics, the way negotiating works is if you always give in on all your demands then you will never be taken seriously in future negotiations . Not being the deciding vote means it cost him nothing to stick to his original demand to repeal. He is the only person who knows how he would have voted had he been the deciding vote. There is also a very good argument for nor wanting to take ownership of the shitshow that is the ACA. Once they vote to change it without repealing, all future nightmares it causes will be blamed on republicans. Hell the dems may have even renamed Obamacare to GOPcare just like Vietnam forever became Nixon's war.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Rand was was not the deciding vote and he knew he wasn't the deciding vote which means he gets to stick to his original offer.

    Rand and his five foolish followers in the Senate were the reason the bill didn't pass.

    When those same five senators voted to support tax reform, Susan Collins caved in support of the bill.

    Because Rand Paul wasn't the last vote doesn't mean his support and his vote wasn't the one that killed the bill. If he and his five followers had supported it, it would have passed--and those five were from deep red states and ostensibly fiscal conservatives.

    Again, the the point that keeps flying over your head is the fact that fiscal conservatives aren't fiscal conservatives because they say they're fiscal conservatives. Fiscal conservatives vote for bills that cut $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The other point that keeps flying over your head is the absurd contradiction of condemning the Republican establishment for not cutting spending--even after the Republican establishment voted to cut entitlement spending on, especially Medicaid, by more than $1 trillion. Meanwhile, some of the same people are pointing to Rand Paul as some exemplar of fiscal conservatism, even though he voted against cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending.

    Not only is that pathetic, it's counterproductive to the cause of fiscal conservatism. How will we achieve fiscal conservatism in congress if we're rewarding those who betray fiscal conservatism and damn those who pass bills to cut entitlement spending by the trillions for not being fiscally conservative?

    If we never achieve fiscal conservatism, it will probably because of lifestyle libertarians, who don't seem to have actual fiscal conservatism as any kind of goal--they just want to cheer for their favorite rock stars and hiss at their enemies regardless of who is and isn't a fiscal conservative. Nobody likes to be shown that they've been fooled, but those who continue in their delusions even after their delusions have been exposed are a big part of the problem.

    If the shoe fits, wear it.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Senate just passed a budget. All your "fiscally conservative" buddies did a bang up job. I know the GOP lies about being fiscally conservative. I've stated that on this site time and time again. That's mainly what turned me to Libertarianism. I also know that if the GOP followed Rand Paul's lead that the ACA would have been repealed and that this Budget would have had real cuts. I'm not throwing the most libertarian Senator under the bus because of one vote that most likely would have made zero impact on the overall federal budget because your buddies would have just used the money for something else. Probably for another war. He was given a bully pulpit and he used it to preach for more freedom. That's what you call grandstanding. If you want to focus all of your vitriol on Paul, knock yourself out. That and $10 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, if even the fiscal conservatives damn you when you vote to cut more than $1 trillion in entitlement spending, then, from a reelection strategic perspective, why bother?

    If actually passing bills to cut more than $1 trillion in entitlement spending doesn't impress fiscal conservatives, then what does?

    The establishment Republicans all voted for the bill to cut that spending. It didn't pass because of a small group of ostensibly fiscally conservative senators led by Rand Paul. If they don't stick their necks out like that again for fiscal conservatism, maybe it's because of Rand Paul.

    If the establishment Republicans don't bother with fiscal conservatism in the future because passing a bill to cut over $1 trillion in entitlement spending doesn't impress voters like you, maybe the fault isn't with the establishment Republicans. Maybe it's because of voters like you.

  • vek||

    Well, we could just round up all the leftists and line them up on a wall and shoot them? That's always a pretty good plan for dealing with commies!

    I really think the only way this country is ever going to be decent again is if a shooting war starts, and a lot of the lefties can be whacked during the fog of war. I'm hoping I'm wrong (but only barely), but I'm pretty sure this country is either going to turn into a total left wing shithole, or we're going to have a civil war... Maybe both! We'll see.

  • vek||

    No worse than being a progressive hiding in libertarians clothing I suppose! LOL

  • vek||

    AND YET you often stump for large government programs that are definitely NOT libertarian!

    You also seem to have many correct "orthodox" libertarian views mixed in, and I usually don't disagree with you on these things. But you definitely tilt heavily towards the left-libertarian side of things in most instances. And occasionally just straight up leave the reservation when large government programs are involved, or forcing social values you personally believe in, etc.

    I don't line up 100% perfectly with "orthodox" libertarian views either, so I get where you're coming from... Libertarianism can get pretty stupid in certain circumstances when taken to the extreme. I just differ VASTLY on when/where/why I break from the orthodoxy. There is a reason people broke the spectrum into left-libertarian and right-libertarian, because it defines the "angle" one is coming from on many issues... I am definitely NOT a left-libertarian.

    That to me is utopian, love everybody (including those who don't deserve it), kumbaya singing, dirty hippies that actually understand economics. I'm more of a normal, non degenerate, understand that the real world is unfair (but it can't be any other way), fiscal conservative who understands crack should still be legal even though smoking crack is dumb.

  • vek||

    "NAME ONE. i gave proof, you SLANDER"

    Well, I'm not going to go through 1000 articles to get quotes, but you've been far too accepting of the ACA numerous times, implying support for it. Which few libertarians can get behind. Same with some other large programs. MAYBE that's just you accepting a "real world" compromise you find acceptable, but I don't, and most others don't. Even what we had before the ACA was better than the ACA, fucked as it was.

    "Right-libertarians came from the right. For most their PASSIONS are are still on social issues, but they SUPPORT the social left as their moral obligation to individual liberty"

    I would somewhat disagree. I think most right libs are more interested in fiscal and general small government issues. I accept personal choices, and not having laws against them, even when I don't like them. I'm not even very far right at all on social issues (pro abortion, pro gay marriage, pro pot, etc), BUT the outright hatred of traditional values on the left in recent years, and my getting older and wiser, has made me kind of disgusted with how the left and left libertarians are getting thuggish with trying to force social values they think are best. Traditional marriage for instance IS the best for any society, look at economic and social outcomes of children from broken homes. Yet anybody who speaks up for it being a value to hold in esteem is somehow a retrograde Christo-fascist??? Please.

  • vek||

    Where I think the break is mentally with many left libs is that MANY have been cheering the forced compulsion of social values they like. That is wrong, and has been irking right libs a LOT lately. I want private entities to be able to do whatever they want, even if it's not something I would do. If I owned a bakery I'd bake the fuck out of gay wedding cakes! But I support people not doing it too. Many left libs have been all too happy to have the outcomes they want from corrupt means of achieving them IMO.

    I have no problem with gays or trannies. But a libertarian should not be cheering forcing by law trannies being able to use whatever shower room they want. Compulsion is not free association.

    You claim many places to be majoritarian, but most people are opposed to a 15 year old boy (who thinks he is a girl) being naked in a shower room with their 15 year old daughter. So which wins here for you? Majoritarianism, or your personal preference? Personally, I draw the line at bathrooms. I don't think that's too weird, but shower rooms and the like I think making 100 kids awkward so one person can fulfill their fantasy is perhaps a bit much, and can understand people who don't like it.

    Does that make me a horrible person? Maybe in some peoples eyes, but I don't really care. I'd tell my tranny friends the same thing if it ever comes up in conversation when I'm out partying with them. I'm not alt-right, but they do have some valid points on some issues.

  • vek||

    I throw orthodoxy out when I think it is an existential threat to our civilization/liberty in general (mass immigration), or when it is extremely likely to completely fuck up the day to day functioning of a society for minimal/zero gain (forced by the government transgendered "rights" for instance, despite me personally having no problem with trannies). No social norms should be dictated by law, but many should be enforced in society by individuals having standards they hold each other to, because having standards and norms helps a society function.

    You throw out the orthodoxy when the feelz don't line up with how you think things should be in social situations... Even if the end result is normalizing or encouraging damaging behavior. Hippie if I ever have seen one! LOL

    That's my take anyway.

  • vek||


    I don't have demons of hatred! I don't want forced government compulsion of, errr, almost anything really. But that doesn't mean I have to like all the same shit you do. As I said above I'm not even very right socially, but I do have a few lines that I think should not be crossed. I don't think those should be government enforced, BUT I also don't think being a libertarian means that I have to give up all social standards that I think are healthy and good for society. If people, not government, impose standards on other people there is nothing wrong with that.

    I mean a 75 year old banging a 15 year old complies with the NAP, right? But I can still be free to think that's skeezy, and that society should very strongly look down on such behavior, EVEN IF I were to say that such a thing should be legal.

    I believe in social shaming of bad behavior. I don't think it's the governments job though.

  • vek||

    LOL Whatever Hihn. I told you why I said that, and then backed it up with your too positive (IMO) opinions on some horrible ani freedom government programs. I'm done babbling with you in this dead thread.

  • eyeroller||

    The tone of this article is crazy. Republicans have NEVER been "fiscally responsible". (And remember all those tea party marchers chanting "Cut my medicare and my social security"? I don't either.)

  • Ken Shultz||

    Much of the Tea Party was about cutting discretionary spending to save Medicare and Social Security. The Tea Party wasn't libertarian.

    That doesn't mean they weren't fiscally conservative.

    They opposed ObamaCare and TARP on fiscally conservative grounds, even if they weren't small government libertarians.

    People don't have to be fiscally conservative for my reasons to be fiscally conservative.

  • vek||

    Yeah, and also as far as things go, there is a hierarchy of things that are reasonable to cut first versus last. Poorly structured welfare, oops I mean healthcare, programs? Crony capitalist bullshit? Screwing grandma?

    I think we can all see that there are degrees. I'm down with getting rid of/highly modifying all of the above, but I can understand people who have different priorities.

  • Tony||

    Yeah, fiscal reasons was why they opposed Obama policies.

  • vek||

    Well, it was why the actual voters were against most of it... As far as the politicians, they were only "against it" to convince the voters they had morals and values too! Which they didn't, which is why they're behaving like shit now that they're in power.

    The House seems to have enough decent people to actually pass REAL conservative/libertarian reforms, it's always been the senate filled with the real traitors. Not that the house guys are perfect or amazing, but far less sold out than the senate, for whatever that's worth.

  • Tony||

    People who disagree with you on policy aren't traitors you dumbfuck.

    Also, Obamacare reduced the deficit, so put that in your fiscal pipe and shove it up your ass.

  • vek||

    It depends on the type of disagreement actually! There are many things to argue about that are not against the principles this country was founded on, and aren't against the constitution... Like what the budget should be for the military, or immigration policy even... But there are many things either in law now, or proposed by some, which are quite traitorous.

    To name one even a leftist might agree with, let us start with The Patriot Act. Anybody who voted for that is a traitor to this country. Preemptive war against Iraq? Traitor. And plenty more that were voted on by Rs and Ds.

    I would also add that lefty laws like Obamacare are close enough in my book. Forcing people to buy private services against their will is un-American as it gets.

    And it didn't reduce the deficit long term, and even if it did it was still forcing more Americans to shell out a ton more money, even though it was going to crony capitalists instead of the government coffers.

  • Robert||

    If you look state by state across the US from now several decades back, it's clear Republicans are fiscally responsible. Check out the fiscs of Republican vs. Democratic states.

  • wef||

    Maybe have to go back to Calvin Coolidge, the last president who wasn't a Progressive.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I notice these spending sprees always happen as bipartisan compromises after bumping into the debt ceiling. Why don't we just get rid of the debt ceiling? Then no more government shutdown panics and no more bipartisan compromises!

    I am a fucking genius.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Mikey reads The New York Times


  • Crusty Juggler||


  • Crusty Juggler||

    Classic Mikey.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Key words: "this incredible story"

  • SimonP||

    It's amazing to me that you can read and excerpt everything that you have and come away with the conclusion "Mueller is finished."

  • Deven||

    If Russia were trying to sell kompromat on Trump the whole time, they obviously were not blackmailing him.

    Thus, the Mueller investigation is pointless.

    But an intelligent person wouldn't need a NYT article to understand this in the first place.

    "Multi-billionaire stakes his freedom and reputation on 200k dollars worth of Russian Facebook ads to win election."

    Anyone who believes Trump collusion is lacking in basic intelligence.

  • SimonP||

    If Russia were trying to sell kompromat on Trump the whole time, they obviously were not blackmailing him.

    Is that your takeaway from the piece? The agents themselves evidently didn't think the offer was genuine, and was instead designed to disrupt American politics. Which is absolutely consistent with what every reasonably intelligent person believes Russia was attempting to do during the 2016 election (and is continuing to do now).

    Thus, the Mueller investigation is pointless.

    The Mueller investigation is intended to investigate the Russian attempts to influence American politics in a way that serves their interests. Whether they have ever attempted to blackmail Trump, or indeed whether Trump ever actively sought to collude with the Russians, is a relatively tangential consideration to the primary focus of the investigation.

    But an intelligent person wouldn't need a NYT article to understand this in the first place.

    Lots of "intelligent people" apparently reach the conclusions they summarily assert without the need for any kind of evidence whatsoever.

    Anyone who believes Trump collusion is lacking in basic intelligence.

    As is anyone who believes this is a comprehensible sentence. But maybe English isn't your first language?

  • Deven||

    Okay, you give me an allegation and let us try to figure out the motive and means. A basic critical thinking exercise, if you will.

    I noticed you implied that I am a Russian bot. Hilarious if it weren't so sad.

  • SimonP||

    Okay, you give me an allegation and let us try to figure out the motive and means. A basic critical thinking exercise, if you will.

    If you were interested in "critical thinking," you wouldn't be asking me to educate you on this now years-long saga.

    What is clear is that Russia attempted to sway the outcome of the 2016 election, and it did so with the intention of helping Trump. We understand how they did this and why they did this, by hacking the DNC e-mails and coordinating their release through Wikileaks and promoting those releases through bots and trolls on Twitter and Facebook.

    The extent to which the Trump was aware of and actively participating in this activity is not currently publicly known, and is an important focus of the Mueller investigation. If Trump and his aides were just a bunch of gullible neophytes that were along for the ride - and so not engaged in any actually illegal activity - then so be it. But we already know that Flynn violated federal law when he met with the Russians to undermine Obama's foreign policy - yeah, yeah, under a law no one cares about - and a lengthening record of lies, perjury, and obstruction of justice does not suggest to me that Trump has nothing to hide.

    I noticed you implied that I am a Russian bot. Hilarious if it weren't so sad.

    I never implied you were a bot. But if you'd prefer that I infer that you are simply an idiot, rather than a clever Russian troll, I'm happy to go that route.

  • Robert||

    No, the Mueller investig'n is pointless because, why didn't that investig'n turn this up?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    No way. Mueller is going to fix the mess created by #TrumpRussia hacking and collusion. And with any luck, Hillary can still be President.

    MAGA = Mueller Ain't Going Away

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    As time passes it's cute to see successive generations come to the realization that their political heroes are cowards and liars. Tears are salty no matter the team colors.

  • SimonP||

    An important step not listed here is the gullibility of the Republican and libertarian base. I couldn't keep count of the number of "libertarians" here who sagely informed me - parroting Ryan - that the tax cuts would be followed by "entitlement reform" and "spending cuts." That was how y'all justified the price tag for that tax cut bills, don't you remember?

    And I remember saying, back then, that y'all were crazy to think that the Republicans would pass that expensive corporate tax giveaway to turn around and grab the third rail of politics firmly with both hands. And lo, so it has come to pass, now y'all are clucking about how of course the Republicans are walking back from their promises to cut spending, because it's an election year, and who wants to commit political suicide? Etc., etc.

    The Republicans are inconsistent because their supporters are morons. That's all there is to it.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Their supporters are voters, and voters are morons regardless of political stripe.

  • Ken Shultz||

    With all respect Mr. Simon, as I linked above, the House Republicans passed a bill that slashed entitlement spending by more than $1 trillion.

    "CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, as passed by the House of Representatives . . . . CBO and JCT estimate that, over the 2017-2026 period, enacting H.R. 1628 would reduce direct spending by $1,111 billion . . . . The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the replacement of the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) subsidies for nongroup health insurance."


    Read it for yourself.

    I don't think it's right to go after Ryan and the House Republicans for failing to cut spending or failing to cut entitlement spending--not after they actually passed a bill to cut entitlement spending by more than $1 trillion.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If they weren't willing to shut down the government over it, right now, in an election year, I don't blame them for keeping their constituents in mind. If there's any fault, it's with we libertarians for failing to persuade enough swing voters that we need fiscal restraint.

    We should be rewarding Paul Ryan for passing a bill to cut entitlement spending by $1 trillion. No speaker has ever accomplished that before. It's just that Reason staff has people's heads screwed on so backwards, they think opposing spending cuts is fiscally conservative because . . . Rand Paul.

  • SimonP||

    I don't think it's right to go after Ryan and the House Republicans for failing to cut spending or failing to cut entitlement spending--not after they actually passed a bill to cut entitlement spending by more than $1 trillion.

    Because you're evidently a moron; you're falling for the schtick.

    Trumpcare was a hastily cobbled-together mess of policies designed solely to kick the can to the Senate. There were several provisions in that bill designed to pass the House that would likely have been struck by the Senate parliamentarian or summarily dropped in reconciliation. It was a massively cynical act of governmental incompetence, really without comparison in recent member until the tax scam bill was rammed through shortly thereafter.

    It wasn't, in other words, a serious attempt at reform or cost-cutting. It was an Obamacare repeal like all the rest - go-nowhere legislation designed to make inaction look like delivering promises to the base. And idiots like you just lap it up.

  • Deven||

    Remember when the Senate voted to move the embassy to Jerusalem, then many of those same Senators lost their minds when Trump did it?

    Voting on something or not does not necessarily mean you are for or against something, it is often optics, and the reasons for a vote are often based on other deals and details in the background.

    Is it a fucked up way of doing things? Yes. But hating on Rand Paul for not voting a particular way once is ridiculous if you do not and cannot know the full background. Rand is one of the most principled, decent people in all of politics. Sure, it is a low bar, but he has been pretty damned consistent over the years on many, many issues that matter to libertarians. Even when he has no chance, at least the man is creating awareness.

  • SimonP||

    Voting on something or not does not necessarily mean you are for or against something, it is often optics, and the reasons for a vote are often based on other deals and details in the background.

    I don't blame politicians for playing politics. I blame voters - including the commenters on sites like this one - for being so easily played by the politicians.

    Like I said in my initial comment, upthread - Republicans and their supporters here lauded the tax cuts, waving off concerns over the massive increase in deficit spending as something they'd get to later, through spending cuts. Yes, of course, we were told - spending cuts must follow. Ryan promised to do that, deflecting attention from the massive price tag the tax cuts carried. But now push comes to shove and... well now we're singing a different tune, aren't we? You yourself are just waving it all of as politics. Convenient, that. In the same breath you celebrate Rand Paul's meaningless protest as an act of principled leadership. Which is exactly why, when he turns around and contradicts himself later, as he already has repeatedly done, you'll have some other argument about the unfortunately cynical character of modern politics.

    And on and on it goes.

  • Deven||

    No, my point is to simply take the entire body of work rather than a single vote when making an assumption on someone. The idea that Rand Paul is not a true fiscal conservative because he once voted a certain way on a single bill is quite ridiculous.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't know what's dumber: thinking that passing a bill to cut entitlement spending by more than $1 trillion doens't mean they want to cut spending, or thinking that Rand Paul voting against a bill to cut more than $1 trillion means that he's still a fiscal conservative.

    Did you guys volunteer for that phony fiscal conservative, Rand Paul or something?

    It seems like an emotional response.

    You guys don't want Rand Paul voting against cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending to mean something, so you pretend that the rest of the Republicans voting to cut more than $1 trillion in entitlement spending doesn't mean anything too?

    Is that what's going on?

    Are any of you actually in favor of cutting spending, or is it all about Rand Paul and whatever Reason staff are pitching this week?

  • Deven||

    I'm a consistent critic of Reason, Ken. I feel that they are turning libertarianism into nothing but Trump bashing virtue-signaling, a space that is already saturated and does nothing for our cause.

    Anyway, yes I am for cutting spending. I simply do not understand the anger towards Rand Paul for once voting the wrong way.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm supposed to be able to depend on him to cut the most socialist spending program in America--and he betrayed my trust.

    Meanwhile, he's leading my fellow libertarians into making asses of themselves over spending.

    Rand Paul blew a chance to cut more than a $1 trillion in purely redistributive socialist spending. To get anymore libertarian, what would he have needed to do--repeal the income tax, corporate tax, and capital gains tax?

    Maybe that's not more libertarian. Fiscal conservatives might argue that cutting spending first is harder and more important.

    Anyway, for having made a mistake, it was a doozy.

  • Ken Shultz||

    And I'm not sure it was a mistake. I think he was probably taking a page out of his dad's political playbook, like when his dad voted against NAFTA, not for the ridiculous reasons he stated but because Perot and Reform were eating into his core constituency in Texas, and Texans were worried about their jobs getting sucked across the border into Mexico. I think Rand Paul voted to kill those Medicaid cuts because Kentucky is one of the states with the highest Medicaid participation rate--and is being hit hard by the opioid epidemic. I think he did a political calculation and sold us fiscal conservatives down the river . . .

    And it makes me sick, knowing that, and seeing people support him for being a fiscal conservative.

    To believe he believed what he said about why he voted against cutting $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending, I'd have to think he was stupid. I'm giving Rand Paul the benefit of the doubt. There may be rationalizations for what he did--just like there were rationalizations for Ron Paul voting against free trade. The difference is that Ron Paul's necessary opposition to free trade to keep his seat in congress didn't stop NAFTA from passing--but with Rand Paul's support, that $1.022 trillion entitlement spending cut probably would have happened.

  • Deven||

    I think Rand Paul voted to kill those Medicaid cuts because Kentucky is one of the states with the highest Medicaid participation rate--and is being hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

    I remember this being my thought at the time now that you mention it.

    Would it have cost him an election? I don't think so, but maybe he thought the possibility was real? Maybe he thought without proper market reforms it would have hurt Kentuckians more than the budget cuts would help overall.

    The thing about Rand is that he understands the long game and that he needs to put politics over principle sometimes. This is the key difference between him and his father and why he is and will be more effective in the long term. In this case, I think you're right that he miscalculated.

  • Robert||

    I think he was probably taking a page out of his dad's political playbook, like when his dad voted against NAFTA, not for the ridiculous reasons he stated but because Perot and Reform were eating into his core constituency in Texas, and Texans were worried about their jobs getting sucked across the border into Mexico.

    I'm afraid I'm less sanguine than you about that. I don't think Ron's House seat was seriously in jeopardy, but rather that he was playing to the sovereign-nationalist-populist crowd nationwide.

    I think Rand Paul voted to kill those Medicaid cuts because Kentucky is one of the states with the highest Medicaid participation rate--and is being hit hard by the opioid epidemic.

    Meanwhile here I'm more cynical than you. I think Rand's also playing to the nation for a possible future run for prez. He wants to establish himself as the Anti-Trump and maverick in the GOP.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I suppose it might have been different back when Obama was in office, and the chances of him signing a law to repeal ObamaCare was absolute zero.

    Yeah, back then, voting to cut a lot of spending didn't mean much--because there wasn't a president to sign the repeal and they didn't have the votes to override a veto.

    That wasn't the case with the bill that Rand Paul voted against that would have cut $1.022 trillion in entitlement spending.; Not only did we have a president who was willing to sign the spending cuts--the president was lobbying individual members of the senate to vote for it.

    Rand Paul and his followers refused--presumably because they knew it would pass if they supported it. After all, the president was practically begging them to send it to his desk to sign, and the House had already voted for it.

    Nah, don't think about how Rand Paul voted against what was probably the most anti-socialist bill in American history. Much better to go around repeating lies--like that Paul Ryan should be ashamed of himself for never passing any spending cuts . . . despite the fact that less than a year ago, Paul Ryan not only sponsored but got passed a bill that cut more than $1 trillion in entitlement spending.

    The only real phony around here is Rand Paul and anyone who still supports him because he's a fiscal conservative.

  • Deven||

    I agree with your assessment that Rand Paul's vote was incorrect in this case.

    I just don't agree with the idea that it makes him a phony. I also do not agree that supporting Rand Paul more than the 99 other Senators makes one a phony. He is still, by far, the best overall Senator from a libertarian perspective.

  • Robert||

    I don't blame politicians for playing politics. I blame voters - including the commenters on sites like this one - for being so easily played by the politicians.

    What choice do they have?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Voting on something or not does not necessarily mean you are for or against something"

    Actually, voting for a law that cuts entitlement spending by more than $1 trillion is a necessary requirement for actually cutting that spending.

    It''s in the Constitution and everything.

    You remember how tax reform got passed?

    First, the House passed it. Then the Senate signs off on the same or a similar bill. If it's only similar, they work out the differences, and the House passes something (again) that conforms to the Senate's version.

    Then the bill goes to the President. If he signs it, it becomes a law.

    You see, they're actually taxing people less now--and that couldn't have happened if the House hadn't voted for it.

    If you've got some brilliant plan for how to cut entitlements without the House passing a bill to do so, I'd be interested to hear it, but I doubt it's brilliant at all. Talking about cutting spending without the House voting to do so is unconstitutional and stupid.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "I don't think it's right to go after Ryan and the House Republicans for failing to cut spending or failing to cut entitlement spending--not after they actually passed a bill to cut entitlement spending by more than $1 trillion."

    I'm not falling for schtick.

    That's a fact. A verifiable fact.

    In fact, I gave you a link so you could verify that fact yourself.

    Do you know the difference between facts and opinions?

    The fact that Paul Ryan passed a bill to cut entitlement spending by more than $1 trillion, most of it coming straight out of Medicaid.

    See the link?

    Here it is again.

    "CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have completed an estimate of the direct spending and revenue effects of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017, as passed by the House of Representatives"

    It's not moronic schtick.

    It's a fact.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The 500th time the Republicans promise to cut spending, they'll really mean it. They'll be super cereal.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Americans are not smart enough to vote for Rand Paul for President. Republicans sure arent giving him the primary. They don't really care about fiscal responsibility.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Excellent piece, Matt. But, in fact, the Tea Party, however much they talked about cutting the budget, never meant it. What they "meant" was "stop taking my money [i.e., cutting Medicare] and giving it to black people and foreigners!" It was Obama, after all, who actually cut entitlements, and that was the biggest reason why the Democrats got crushed in 2010. Ron Paul's speech was impressive, and accurate, but it was given by a guy who had already voted to increase the deficit by over a $100 billion a year for the next ten years and counting, via massive tax cuts. I think it's "interesting" that just after the tax cuts went through, Charlie Koch said "we've made more progress in the past four years than in the past 50." More progress in cutting his taxes, I guess he meant. Doesn't sound like old Charlie is any more worried about the deficit than Uncle Donald.

  • DajjaI||

    Trump is no longer the gravest threat to the republic. Now it's the Congress, spending like drunken sailors. Fox News seems to be the only news outlet that cares about this issue. They have been taking a more explicit libertarian approach on various subjects. I think that's great!

  • CE||

    Plus Trump basically said entitlement reform is off the table.

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    No, the GOP is. Not Congress. Congressional Republicans, WH Republicans and Supreme Court Republicans

    Go swallow more Hannity

  • vek||

    It would be kind of baller if Trump vetoed some major bullshit sent to him one of these times. Just said "Nope, cut all this bullshit the Dems want, then I'll sign it." If the Dems were truly on board of course they could override it, but it would be good optics if nothing else.

  • vek||

    Not really Hihn. It was the fact that the so called conservatives that got elected promising one thing NEVER had the courage to follow through. They have had the mandate to cut government and taxes over, and over, and over again from the public. The fact that the country has deteriorated so far now that they have to resort to brinkmanship doesn't change the fact that half or so of the country would throw a party if they actually grew a pair and finally did what they promised!

  • vek||


    Well it's technically the politicians fault for not following through of course! But voters also need to be smarter and stop buying obvious lies from pols with a history of obvious lies!

    I think almost everybody in congress SHOULD be thrown out... But not to be replaced with Democrats who will be even WORSE for freedom! There should be a shit ton of primary challengers from actual principled fiscal conservatives/libertarians who might actually vote for the things the voters put them in office to do!

    "Let's kick out these nasty Republicans and replace them with these Stalinists over here instead! That'll teach them from not rolling back government!!!" just doesn't make a lot of sense... Maybe when there were Democrats like Bill Clinton still actually getting elected, but that isn't the situation anymore.

  • PlaystoomuchHALO||

    The first mistake would be thinking that today's GOP is actually the same party we had prior to 1980, because it isn't. When the tattered remains of the early 20th century Christian Socialist Party were firmly driven out of the DNC over abortion they set their sights on the GOP as a good fit for their supposedly "conservative" values of theocracy & Marxism.

    A decade later, when the takeover was complete, all pretense of small government laid to the side, and every nominee since that time has essentially been an anti-abortion, big-government democrat from 1965. This merely shoved the DNC more fully into their end form Stalinism-lite.

    We now have two political parties that would be pretty much at home a century ago in Russia, arguing if a purge is needed this year or next.

  • vek||

    That sounds about right. The Republicans have always been my biggest disappointment. The Dems are openly left leaning, so you can't blame them for doing what they say. If the Rs actually governed conservatively, and showed that that could really do for people in their daily lives, I have no doubt they would be more popular than they are by far.

  • Robert Crim||

    Justice is coming!

  • Sevo is my bitch||

    The GOP has never been a party of anything but borrow and spend. Since the 1980s

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Breaking news from Britain: Riot over bad wine in Oxford kills 90 people.

    Some students complained about the quality of the wine served at the Swyndlestock tavern, on the corner of Queen Street and St Aldates, and "snappish words" passed between them and the innkeeper — which ended with the students throwing the wine at the innkeeper's head.
  • Eidde||

    Breaking news from 1355.

  • Tony||

    Something has to be alive before it can die. Ask the dead horse I'm beating.

  • IPL 2018 time table||

    IPL 2018 point Table is released today

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    When Republicans aren't the stupid austerity party, they're the stupid deficit party.

  • CE||

    I don't recall any austerity in the past 50 years.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Matt, the only deliverable differences between the GOP and Dem platforms is that the Republicans want First Responders™ with guns to kick in your door over plant leaves. The Democrats want First Responders™ with guns to kick in your door over electric power generation. The undeliverable promises looters make can safely be ignored.

  • Liberty Lover||

    Study history. The Republicans have never been fiscally conservative. Up to Obama the biggest have always been a Republican president with a Republican congress. We will have to see if this president and congress continues that trend, but they seem on track. Their rhetoric has never match their actions. Republicans have lied to you.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    It's simple Darwinian evolution. Once politicians can buy votes with borrowed money, it's all over, because the ones who genuinely want to balance the budget get outbid by the ones who will borrow to buy votes, and end up not in office.

    This is one of those cases where the underlying rules dictate the end result, regardless of ideology or motivation.

    Don't worry, though, we'll balance the budget somewhere down the road, after our creditors won't loan us any money.

  • Vandalia||

    There is a much more fundamental problem: not paying the bills; or, in other words, the "cut my taxes crowd."

    If you want a BMW, you have to pay for it. No one who actually runs a business believes that cutting prices increases income. If you don't believe me, check out the articles from the franchise owners who are roaring mad over the national McDonald's and Subway discount menus. I have run several businesses, and served as a "mentor" for people wanting to start new businesses. All you need to know is that the current tax policy was devised by people who never ran a business in their life; to make money, you raise prices.

    As long as there is a disconnect with the payment side, there will be deficits. There is a very simple tax strategy: you add up the federal spending in the previous year, and that much money has to come in as taxes. Neat, simple, and then you raise the tax rate so that it matches the amount of income needed to balance the budget.

    Every single non-criminal business in the country runs that way and there is no reason the federal government should not be any different. If people actually had to pay for the programs they say they want, spending would be dramatically reduced.

  • vek||

    "If people actually had to pay for the programs they say they want, spending would be dramatically reduced."

    FACT. Which is why the Democrats would never want to see it done. And The Rs realize it is a bad idea IN THE SHORT TERM for other reasons... But if they wanted to be truly long term planners they could well offer to raise taxes on the wealthy and middle class to cover 100% of the budget. After a year or three of that people would be up in arms and demanding cuts. It'd be short term pain, but long term gain. Hence the status quo is maintained :(

  • CE||

    An even simpler plan: add up the proposed spending and divide by the number adult Americans. Example: 4 trillion dollars divided by 200 million adults is 20,000 dollars. That's your annual tax bill each if it passes. Now vote.

  • Allutz||

    #3 May 2013: Walking away from bicameral budget negotiations is largely a lie.

    The Cruz shutdown attempt was sabotaged by McConnell's lack of desire to take a stand when he had a strong negotiating position and intentionally abdicating the more highground.

  • Allutz||

    #3 May 2013: Walking away from bicameral budget negotiations is largely a lie.

    The Cruz shutdown attempt was sabotaged by McConnell's lack of desire to take a stand when he had a strong negotiating position and intentionally abdicating the more highground.

  • CE||

    Not bad. In 108 million years, you could pay off the national debt by yourself!

  • CE||

    Step 8: Lard in another 300 billion dollars to keep the government going this year.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online