Budget discipline is not the only concept Republicans no longer sell. Trump has replaced the free-trade GOP with a protectionist outfit. He’s pushing isolationism and nativism instead of global engagement. Remember how Republicans used to pitch virtue and personal accountability? They’ve become the party of alleged wife-beaters and hush money to porn stars.
But nothing illustrates the reverse merger with Trump more clearly than the Republican-led House of Representatives cheerfully passing tax-cut and spending bills that together will drive the annual deficit past $1 trillion, without the slightest prospect of a balanced budget in their plans. Deficit spending in a slump can be necessary stimulus. To do it on this staggering scale in a period of steady growth and low unemployment is fiscal malpractice.
Republicans used to run on promises that they would make government more efficient by cutting “waste, fraud and abuse.” Forget that, too. Phase one of the first-ever audit of Pentagon budgets recently found the Defense Department is unable to account for some $800 million in spending — by a single agency! Many more defense agencies remain to be audited. Yet the GOP insisted on adding $165 billion over two years in new funding for a department that can’t adequately account for the $700 billion per year it already receives.