In a recent interview with the Conservative Review, Representative Thomas Massie (R-Ky), not only condemned the congressional Republican leadership for the recent “omnibus” spending bill, he argued that most of the Republican membership of the House of Representatives is hypocritical. “A more complete betrayal of the American electorate I have not witnessed.”
For years, Republican voters have been told to just wait — the Republicans will get the majority in the House, and then they will begin attacking federal spending. That happened in 2010, but then the manta became, just wait, we need control of the Senate, too. Of course, that happened in 2014. Once the Republicans had the majority in the Senate, they blamed the man in the White House, Barack Obama, for the fact that they could not do anything. So the voters sent a Republican into the White House in 2016 to replace Obama.
“I thought we were improving things when we got rid of [Speaker] John Boehner … but things have gotten progressively worse,” Massie told Conservative Review.
And while Massie agrees that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis) deserves all the blame he is getting from the Republican base, he is blunt in arguing that just blaming Ryan does not absolve the rest of Congress. “It’s Congress’ fault for accepting this leadership, and for voting for these leaders, and then letting them betray their promise to us so blatantly.”
Massie noted that the omnibus bill was introduced about 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday. “By 10:00 p.m., we had to have our amendments. If we wanted to amend this bill, we had to have our amendments offered, and 30 copies delivered to the Rules Committee, within two hours,” Massie said, explaining that it was a 2,232-page bill. “You’ve got to read it, digest it, and offer and craft your amendments in a form that is germane and legal and have them all done within two hours of seeing the bill for the first time.”
Some members, like Massie, quickly went to work and drafted amendments, to take out funding for sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood, “things we promised our electorate, which were not in the bill.” Then, the Rules Committee met and dropped a rule on the House that “not just one of our amendments would be disallowed, but all amendments would be disallowed.”
Such behavior is clearly demoralizing the base of the Republican Party, Chris Pandolfo of Conservative Review noted to Massie, and Massie agreed. “Without a doubt … I can see it in my Twitter responses, I can see it on my Facebook page.”
Massie said the Republican grass-roots needs to “quit voting for congressmen who [put] people like [Paul Ryan] in charge.” Sadly, he doesn’t see anyone “in the wings” who is likely to be any better. Ryan had promised that he was going to fix “the process” that allowed a 2,232-page bill to be voted on “that we’ve not had time to read,” but “he’s broken those promises.”
Now the Republicans in Congress are expected to run an amendment to the Constitution that proposes to require a “balanced budget.” This, of course, is simply to offer political covering for the omnibus bill crafted by these same Republicans! It is simply the type of subterfuge intended to fool the base. Of course, a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) would not pass, even if every single Republican in both houses were to vote for it (as it takes two-thirds vote of each house of Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution).
Then, when it inevitably fails, the Republican National Committee, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee could all run their fundraising efforts, decrying how the Democrats voted against balancing the budget.
The blunt truth is that there is nothing stopping the Republicans from balancing the budget right now, as they control both houses of Congress and the White House. In fact, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution does not address the actual problem, anyway. The problem is that Congress presently votes for spending not authorized by the Constitution, as it is. What purpose would be served by adding another provision to the Constitution that Congress will not follow?
A balanced budget provision in the Constitution would actually be quite dangerous, as the budget would most likely be balanced, not by cutting spending, but rather by hiking taxes on the backs of the taxpayers.
A much better proposal, while still not perfect, is that offered by Massie. “We shouldn’t be doing an omnibus, that’s an anathema. We should be doing 12 separate appropriations bills, so that nobody can take all of the discretionary spending hostage in one fell swoop. Not the Freedom Caucus, not Chuck Schumer, not Dick Durbin, not Ted Cruz, not Thomas Massie. Nobody should be able to take all of government funding hostage on one vote."
“There should be 12 separate votes. That’s how you get responsible government done.”
Photo of Thomas Massie: Gage Skidmore