Bob Corker: Our party wouldn't be voting for this garbage spending bill if Hillary were in the White House

He’s not blaming Trump, in case the headline’s unclear. Trump’s more opposed to the omnibus than Republican leaders in Congress are. Corker’s making a point about the cynicism of GOP “small government” rhetoric. When a Democrat’s president, Republicans bleat endlessly about spending. When a Republican’s president, they polish up whatever turd bill leadership presents them with, debts and deficits be damned.

Another way of saying that is Republicans don’t care about fiscal responsibility because they care about fiscal responsibility. They care about fiscal responsibility to the extent it can be used as a cheap cudgel against Democrats, who make no bones about their desire to expand government. In practice one of the core principles of Reaganism, starving the federal beast, is nothing more than a mindless tribal rallying point against Team Blue. When Team Blue’s not in power, who cares?

You could fashion a half-serious argument from that hard reality that it’s actually better for the cause of fiscal conservatism to have Democrats in power. You don’t think an angry, “let’s pretend we care about cutting spending” GOP minority could have forced a better deal than this out of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer?

How could they have done worse?

At least we’re not pretending anymore that this party stands for anything except getting elected. And by “we,” I include some of its own members on the Hill:

Republicans on Thursday objected to not only the process, but also to many of the provisions of the bill. “Republicans would be united in opposition to this if a Democratic administration had proposed it,” freshman Republican Warren Davidson told me. “This is a really bad spending plan.”…

Republicans blamed the concessions on their slim majority of 51 members in the Senate, where 60 votes are required for passage. Still, Democrats won a higher budget cap hike on non-defense discretionary spending under the Republican-controlled government than they were ever able to achieve after the Budget Control Act was passed under former President Barack Obama. “When we’re in the minority, we say we have no power, and when they’re in the minority, we say they have all the power,” complained House Freedom Caucus member Scott Perry.

There’s always an excuse. Conservatives like to point to sellouts like today’s bill and claim that Republican leaders in Congress made Trump’s primary victory possible two years ago by disappointing the base over and over. If the stiffs on the Hill are only going to expand government when they’re in power, the thinking supposedly goes, why not roll the dice on the loudmouth outsider? I don’t buy it, though. Apart from a rump 25 percent, the base doesn’t care about shrinking government either. They’re not “disappointed” that Paul Ryan vowed to scale back their entitlements and failed badly. Fiscal conservatism is spinach they tolerate as a side dish for the culture-war steak. Who was the guy onstage in 2016 who looked like he’d be most willing to prosecute that culture war? Who was the guy who seemed most likely to “melt snowflakes” and make liberals cry? Well, that’s the guy we nominated. Even the dean of conservative talk radio stopped pretending that the GOP was about anything grander than being anti-Democrat. We got the spending bill we asked for.