Here Lies the Budget Control Act; May It Rest in Peace
Eight years ago, the Republican Party actually meant what they said.
They said they wanted smaller and more efficient government, and they meant it. With nothing but the majority in the House of Representatives, they pushed Barack Obama to accept the Budget Control Act (a.k.a. “the sequester”), which put the brakes on the normal runaway spending increases to which Washington had become so accustomed.
As I noted four years ago (when I was still a Republican)….
Yet much like Gingrich and the aforementioned 1997 deal, Boehner’s chief accomplishment will go unheralded – the Budget Control Act of 2011. It was imperfect, and imprecise, but it also led to the first sustained reduction in real government spending since the 1950s. Today, federal spending as a percentage of GDP has fallen back to 2007 levels – something that not even the hallowed Simpson-Bowles commission believed was possible.
That was 2015, though. Three months before I wrote that, Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy – and made it clear none of that limited government stuff was a priority.
That lack of concern came to fruition this week, when Trump himself touted the latest budget deal: spending goes roughly $320 billion over what the BCA would have initially allowed. Also of note, the BCA itself expires in 2021, so this was, in theory, the last time the spirit of 2011 would provide any restraints on Washington.
So much for that.
The Budget Control Act is, effectively, dead. For a time, it really did change Washington. Then the Republican Party decided being the Party of Big Government for White People was more fun … and here we are.
How absurd is the current situation? Consider this — the Club for Growth bitterly opposed this. Among those who voted with the Club were … Amanda Pressley and Ilhan Omar …
… yes, that Ilhan Omar.
I’m guessing the Club won’t be congratulating her for supporting fiscal conservatism.
In truth, those of us who prefer a more cost-effective smaller government lost the Republican Party three years ago when Trump cemented his control of the party. This week was merely the aftermath.