Republican opposition to the Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation package on the grounds that it is fiscally irresponsible is easily understandable. With a huge existing federal debt (currently more than $20 trillion and growing) and the dismal track record of Congress not providing adequate funding for an ever-expanding list of federal programs and entitlements, a call for fiscal responsibility is warranted. Since the Biden Administration and its Democrat supporters incredibly insist the proposed $3.5 trillion reconciliation package would cost “zero dollars,” Americans have little reason to expect any semblance of fiscal responsibility from the Biden Administration or Congressional Democrats in the foreseeable future.
Strong criticism of the fiscal irresponsibility of the proposed Democrat reconciliation package is warranted. But, Republicans need to avoid focusing just on the absurd price tag. Republicans should not leave themselves vulnerable to Democrats keeping many objectionable provisions intact and just lowering the ostensible price tag as a tactical ploy to get their massive wish-list enacted into law by abusing the reconciliation process.
It would only be a “Pyrrhic victory” if Congressional Republicans obtain a lower price tag without strenuously challenging the Democrats’ abuse the reconciliation process to enact objectionable provisions that are really substantive and not budgetary in nature. No legislation being enacted would be better than enactment of “affordable” bad legislation. America does not need “affordable” bad laws.
The Republican Study Committee has issued a summary of many objectionable provisions in the Democrats’ proposed $3.5 trillion monstrosity. See summary here. It makes for sobering reading and raises the question: what other objectionable provisions are buried in the proposed Democrat reconciliation package?
Given the abysmal track record of massive bills negotiated behind closed doors and presented at the last minute so that Members of Congress do not have the time to read or understand the proposed legislation before voting, what other objectionable provisions will be included in the Democrats’s proposed reconciliation package at the last minute?
It makes a mockery of representative democracy to reduce our elected representatives to passive rubber stamps for political deals made by a relatively small group of people behind closed doors without any meaningful transparency. And, it encourages the cynical and manipulative use of “comprehensive” omnibus legislation to obscure and camouflage policies and practices that would be unlikely to be enacted into law if considered on their own merits.
Such a practice is wrong and contrary to the basic principles of representative democracy. There is no excuse or justification for giving our Congressional representatives and the American people “the bum’s rush” instead of a meaningful opportunity to know and evaluate what exactly is contained in proposed legislation. “Hurry up, don’t read the legislation, don’t think about the details, just trust me and vote for it” is the kind of flim-flam technique that can be expected from a confidence man or a huckster, but it is not appropriate for our Congressional representatives. It is not an appropriate solution to legislative disagreement. It is a travesty that reflects a serious corruption of the legislative process in Congress. It is an insult to Americans and undermines their right to have meaningful representative democracy.
Americans need to look beyond the legislative price tag and educate themselves about what is buried in the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion massive reconciliation proposal (or any abbreviated version of it offered later). Americans need to tell their Senators and Representatives that principles and substance are more important than just the ostensible price tag. People need to demand that their Senators and Representatives do their job and read, understand, and deliberate on proposed legislation, and not let themselves be manipulated into voting blindly to rubber-stamp massive legislation presented at the last minute.
Passage of ostensibly “affordable” bad legislation does not benefit the American people. Congressional Republicans should not forget or forsake their principles and the tenets of the Republican Party in exchange for ostensibly “affordable” bad legislation. Congressional Republicans should strenuously oppose abuse of the reconciliation process and not quietly let Democrats include substantive provisions that are not really budgetary in nature. And, Congressional Republicans need to stand firm and oppose cynical manipulation of the legislative process that precludes reasonable consideration of, and meaningful deliberation about, proposed legislation.