by Jenny Beth Martin
On Monday, the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) struck a blow in the fight for fiscal displume. In a 431-word statement, the conservative House Republicans put Official Washington on notice that when Congress returned in September and took up the seemingly annual short-term spending bill known as a “Continuing Resolution,” the HFC would not vote to fund business as usual. Instead, HFC members would only support a short-term spending bill to keep the government open if it also included several of their key policy priorities – policy priorities that would represent significant shifts in key areas of government policy.
Official Washington reacted as if a skunk had walked into its garden party. That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, Official Washington grumbled. We’re all supposed to agree to keep the government spigot flowing at the same rate and on the same programs, funding the same bureaucrats and the same bureaucracies, until we all agree on new spending levels and new spending priorities for the next fiscal year, Official Washington said.
And that’s precisely the HFC’s point – Official Washington wants to keep doing the same thing it’s always done, in the same manner, therefore yielding the same outcome.
That’s why our current course of spending is on a never-rising curve.
That’s why we have a national debt of $32 trillion.
That’s why our per capita debt now approaches$100,000 per person.
Specifically, the HFC’s declaration said HFC members would “refuse to support any [Continuing Resolution] that continues Democrats’ bloated COVID-era spending and simultaneously fails to force the Biden Administration to follow the law and fulfill its most basic responsibilities.” Further, “We will oppose any spending measure that fails to … 1. Include the House-passed ‘Secure the Border Act of 2023’ to cease the unchecked flow of illegal migrants, combat the evils of human trafficking, and stop the flood of dangerous fentanyl into our communities; 2. Address the unprecedented weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI to focus them on prosecuting real criminals instead of conducting political witch hunts and targeting law-abiding citizens; and 3. End the Left’s cancerous woke policies in the Pentagon undermining our military’s core warfighting mission.”
What the HFC has stated is not irrational, as Official Washington would have you believe. To the contrary, it is perfectly rational, because it is established on a premise that cannot be denied – our current course is unsustainable.
The core of the HFC demand is to return to pre-COVID spending levels. That’s a tall order, given how much additional spending took place in the COVID era – total federal outlays jumped from $4.45 trillion in FY 2019 to $6.55 trillion in FY 2020. That’s a 47 percent jump in one year!
It gets worse. In FY 2021, the federal government spent even more – total outlays that year rose to $6.82 trillion. That’s a 53 percent jump from two years earlier.
In FY 2022, federal spending retrenched, but only a bit – total federal outlays that year dropped slightly, to $6.27 trillion. Yes, that represents a slight drop from the year before, but it’s still 41 percent higher than it had been in the pre-COVID era.
Then in FY 2023, of course, the federal government – without a single Republican vote – increased outlays to $6.37 trillion, 43 percent higher than in the pre-COVID era.
And if nothing changes, the federal government is on track to spend $6.88 trillion in FY 2024 – a $500 billion increase over just the year before, and 55 percent higher than in the pre-COVID era.
In other words, the federal government, in response to an unprecedented situation, in one year increased its spending by about half again. And then it continued to spend at that new rate for year after year after year, even after the unprecedented situation had long since ended.
That’s ridiculous. When you look at it that way, it’s not the HFC whose demands seem unreasonable – it’s the other side’s.
So, yes, returning to pre-COVID spending levels would require spending significantly less than Official Washington wants to spend.
So what? Does that make it “wrong”?
No. that merely makes it “difficult to achieve.”
Here’s to the House Freedom Caucus. May these brave souls achieve the difficult.
– – –
Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.
Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Raul654. CC BY-SA 3.0.