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Liberals and establishment Republicans often talk about partisanship in Washington, lamenting that there are not enough people working together to grow the size of government. In a lot of ways, that complaint is like peeing in navy blue pants. It’s warm and may make the wearer feel good, but no one can see it.
The complaints come to mind in the wake of Wednesday’s passage of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill in the House, which funds ObamaCare and passed by a vote of 359-67. In other words, just 15 percent of House members voted against it.
In spite of the fact that it was a paltry 15 percent of House members who thought the budget was not appropriate, apologists for big government said there were still too many conservatives in Congress to be hopeful that they would be able to grow the government as much as they would like in the coming year.
Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, lamented as much:
With but 97 days in partial or full session set for the 113th House; with a barren agenda other than investigating Obamacare, and probably Benghazi and the IRS; with the farm bill foundering yet again… the signs of life are slim.
Is Congress really that polarized? Perhaps we should look at some examples from the last year.
1. There was bipartisan support in Washington for spying on Americans. When Rep. Justin Amash authored an amendment in the House to defund the NSA’s data-mining practices, it created a bipartisan coalition of 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats in the House – in addition to President Obama – who opposed the amendment. A majority of Washington sees no problem with harvesting the phone calls of innocent Americans. Where’s the hyper-partisanship on this issue?
2. There was bipartisan support in Washington to start a war in Syria. President Obama announced his desire to begin a conflict in Syria in September, when 64 percent of Americans said they would not support such an action. Nonetheless, Speaker Boehner announced that he would stand with the president against Americans, as did Sen. John McCain.
3. There was bipartisan support in Washington to ignore jobs and the economy. Polling data released by FreedomWorks on Wednesday finds that 58 percent of voters prioritize the economy and jobs as their number one issue, above 46 percent who said healthcare and 33 percent who felt it was government spending. In spite of the fact that a majority of Americans do not consider immigration to be a top priority for 2014, Speaker Boehner would like to help President Obama bring it up anyway. Just 8 percent said immigration was their number one issue.
4. There was bipartisan support in Washington to uphold and fund ObamaCare. FreedomWorks’ recent polling data (link to the PDF here) found that 63 percent of respondents would be more likely to vote for a candidate who promised to “start over and reform health care with a new law.” Nonetheless, Speaker Boehner refuses to take action to that end. Instead, Boehner has continually worked with President Obama to thwart voters by upholding and funding ObamaCare.
5. There was bipartisan support in Washington to grow the national debt. The national debt in 2003 was $6.7 trillion. Today, it stands at more than $17 trillion.
If there is in fact partisanship in Washington, it seems to be one-sided. It applies mainly to Democrats and some Republicans who will stop at nothing to siphon the nation’s wealth and bring it back to Washington.
When fiscal conservatives suggest that at least one of the parties should be willing to oppose the growth of government for the good of the nation, they are told that is not a realistic option. Proponents of more government apparently never have that problem.
Recall that when Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, it cost the party its majority in the House eight months later. Republicans, promising to end the legislation, had taken the chamber back. Today, politicians like Speaker Boehner are trying to escape that promise.
Is Washington really polarized? Career Washingtonians view Americans as a resource to be exploited for their own enrichment. They increase spending, and Republicans fall back. They violate and take away our rights, and Republicans fall back. They have progressively replaced the rule of law with the rules of Washington, and those in leadership say that Americans must be more willing compromise.
Looking at the record, it looks like Americans have already compromised away an immeasurable sum of their money and rights. It is Washington that refuses to compromise. The characterization of those who wish to limit government as being “too partisan” by career Washingtonians is the epitome of hypocrisy.