Becker: The need of a sober sailor in turbulent waters
Rick Becker is a leading conservative of the North Dakota legislature and joins The Dickinson Press' opinion page as a guest columnists.
The three-ring circus is back in town in Washington DC, and it’s a doozy. In one ring, we see great feats of hypocrisy and double-speak. In another is the clown act, showcasing a little red car and a little blue car. We’re treated to an act where all the clowns cram into the two cars, and sometimes the clowns get mixed up and cram into the wrong-colored car. In the third ring is a magic show. Here the people can witness amazing tricks such as printing an unlimited amount of money without inflation, spending $3.5 trillion without any cost, and taxing businesses without any negative effect on people.
The never-ending saga of DC politics is currently playing out on two fronts. The first is the debt limit or debt ceiling. Generally, having a limit on the amount of debt one takes on is a very good thing, whether personally, or in business. For the federal government, however, it’s merely a political football. Perhaps a better analogy is a political hot potato, because when the “time is up” both Democrats and Republicans routinely suspend or increase it, but neither of them want the responsibility. Republicans do it reluctantly, with much public hand-wringing, but their “yes” votes are the same as the Democrats, who do it happily. The key is that neither party wants the responsibility of doing it alone. If both parties are complicit, they needn’t worry about one party pointing out the damage the other party is doing to the country. The damage is being done, but with both parties complicit, we are told it was truly necessary, and in our best interest.
So here we are, it’s time once again to raise the debt ceiling, and the Democrats are in charge. They want to raise it, and they can - without so much as a single Republican vote, but the Democrats are angry the Republicans won’t help share the blame. White House press secretary Jen Psaki even said, “This is their debt. They chalked it up themselves…..Republicans spent like drunken sailors over the last four years before President Biden took office.” In light of the fact that Democrats are trying to spend double or triple what the Republicans spent, you may be shocked at the sheer audacity of her hypocritical statement. What she said is true, though, and Republicans should not be given a pass for their extraordinary spending. Putting the country so much further into debt was the wrong thing to do, and suddenly becoming fiscally conservative again now that they’re in the minority is just plain sad. Not just sad, as in pathetic, but actually sad. As in, you’re supposed to help save the country from ruin, but you are failing.
The second front is composed of the two spending bills known as the $1 trillion “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill” and the $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better Act”. The former includes various bits of infrastructure, and portions of the Green New Deal, while the latter is a host of tax proposals and policies so debilitating to the US economy, it is the making of a Bernie Sander’s nocturnal emission. The $1 trillion bill has already passed the senate with the aid of 17 Republicans, and is simply waiting to pass in the House. The House Democrats are struggling, however, with moderates wanting to pass it now, and leftists refusing to pass it until the $3.5 trillion bill is passed in the Senate. The Republicans that voted for the $1 trillion say they did it to help prevent passage of the $3.5 trillion. I call it “malarky”. Spenders spend, because it’s who they are.
There is something I noticed in the rosters of the 17 Republicans who voted for the Biden infrastructure bill, and the 11 who voted to give the Democrats breathing room by temporarily suspending the debt ceiling. There are a handful of big spenders that voted for both, but there is a significant component that jumped aboard the sinking ship as a state delegation. For the spending bill, both North Dakota Senators, both Idaho Senators, and both North Carolina Senators were complicit. For the debt suspension, both South Dakota Senators sold out. I believe this is a sign of gamesmanship. Both Senators sign on, so one can’t be labeled a big spender compared to the other. I understand that politics is all about such gamesmanship, but I think we’re at a point where it should start becoming about principles.
The American people shouldn’t have to choose between “drunken sailors”, and “drunken, Ritalin-addled, trust-fund bequeathed, teenage sailors”. How about a sober sailor that gets the ship efficiently and directly where it’s supposed to go?