- The Washington Times
Thursday, January 5, 2023


Never mind all the swooning ladies, pearl-clutchers and screaming weenies in the Republican Party. Or the eye-bulging hysteria from the political press.

This so-called “slow-rolling dumpster fire” going on in the well of the House of Representatives all week is a good thing for the Republican Party, whether its leaders are smart enough or gutsy enough to realize it. This leadership fistfight in the House is the best thing to happen to Republicans since Donald Trump, “the Disrupter,” descended his glass escalator over seven years ago.

And just like back in 2015, leaders of the Republican Party are the slowest to catch on. And the hopeless nerds in the political press never do.

James Fallows, an alleged expert in politics and journalism, announced on Twitter: “Now we are seeing CHAOS.” He compared the floor fight this week to the massive tear-gas riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. And Watergate.

Please, someone, deliver the poor man some smelling salts.

No, this is not a riot. This is not chaos. It’s not even a late-night break-in. 

It’s a debate. An open and honest debate, including some name-calling. It is called democracy. Out in the open sunlight — the only place where democracy thrives.

For sure, the drama is real. It’s delicious. The fierce debate over how the House of Representatives should operate — and who should lead it — goes to the very heart of self-governance. The House of Representatives is the body most answerable to the people, so it is fitting that the profound frustrations of the people surface here first.

Every day this week that House members gather at the crack of noon to begin working, I cannot help but marvel wistfully: The House is still not passing bills. If only the Senate were not either.

Which, of course, is the beauty of our government. If the House is not producing laws, then neither is the Senate!

At this rate, the 118th Congress is on schedule to be the least destructive Congress in modern history. At this rate, not one single penny will be added to the $30 trillion in debt past Congresses have dumped on your children and grandchildren.

It is a beautiful thing to watch Kevin McCarthy fight for his political life at the foot of the parliamentary mountain, at the top of which now sits the empty speaker’s chair with a muted microphone. That gleaming tan rawhide chair against the giant American flag hanging behind it is a silent reminder that when politics is working properly, everything must be earned.

What this whole fight comes down to is spending. It’s a debate that roils the Republican Party. Today’s Democratic Party is so deeply dishonest and profoundly corrupt that they don’t even fret over it. That speaks well of Republicans.

If Mr. McCarthy wants to be speaker, he should make a humble deal with the American citizen.

As speaker, he will not allow a single spending bill to reach the floor that does not cut every federal department by at least 10% per year — just the way every business and household has to do in these hard times. Further, each of the 12 appropriation bills that fund the government will be handled singularly and openly as they are supposed to be. In other words, no more trillion-dollar “omnibus” bills that nobody reads.

Second, Mr. McCarthy will not allow any bill to reach the floor that sends another dime to fund the war in Ukraine — until the borders of the United States of America are completely secure.

Of course, all the bed-wetters in the Republican Party will come unhinged and warn that such a deal will lead to a dreaded “government shutdown,” which curiously is dreaded only around here. That’s because “government shutdowns” happen only when spending bills don’t pass. And everybody knows that the most dangerous part of raising hogs is feeding time.

Most Americans don’t mind government shutdowns — partly because the federal government has almost zero positive influence on their daily lives. Consider the three longest government shutdowns since 1996.

Republicans were successfully blamed for each one of them, and in each case, they ultimately caved. Yet in every case, Republicans picked up seats in Congress in the very next election, including double-digit House pickups in 2014 and 2020.

Another lesson Republican leaders should learn from Mr. Trump is to make every fight count for something. Spend political capital on something that matters so that you define yourself — and your enemies.

By seizing the moral high ground on government spending today, Mr. McCarthy would define the 2024 election. 

He would plant the flag for responsible government spending — to fight the rot of inflation-wrecking households. And he would plant the flag of America’s secure borders over those of Ukraine.

That’s an election fight even Republicans could win. 

• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at The Washington Times.

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