Yesterday in this space, we looked at congressional Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Democrats are focused exclusively on getting themselves and President Obama re-elected in November. Their every move between now and election day will be calculated to advance their selfish political interests, not the public interest of the country. That means more spending on favored special interests, more regulation that panders to the party's ideologues but strangles the economy, and endless demagoguery about Republicans starving the poor, leaving children destitute, and shoving the elderly over the cliff.
The Republicans have a different but no less serious problem. Despite their historic Tea Party-inspired victory in the 2010 congressional election, too many Hill Republicans still suffer from the disease that led to their undoing in 2006. They talk, endlessly, about cutting federal spending and limiting government, but they don't walk the walk when they have the power. When Republicans controlled the Senate and House during the last Bush administration, for example, most of them couldn't resist earmarking billions of tax dollars, with the money too often going to their campaign donors, former campaign staffers and business partners.
Regaining the House majority sparked a flood of new talk about getting federal spending under control, passing balanced budget amendments and reforming entitlements. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan even proposed a 2012 federal budget that would have made concrete progress had it been enacted. But congressional Republicans never summoned the courage to draw the line on spending and the debt. Instead, they bent over backwards throughout 2011 negotiating under the mistaken notion that Obama, Reid and Pelosi would actually agree to cut spending (beyond the defense budget).
So now we see statements like this yesterday from Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee: "Instead of reining in spending, the president has asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling again ... This vote is in response to the administration's reckless spending binge that has driven America's economy down a disastrous fiscal path and hurt job creation at a critical time for middle-class families and small businesses." But, as the Club for Growth noted, Roe was one of 176 House Republicans who voted last year to give Obama the power to raise the national debt limit by another $1.2 trillion. Congressional Republicans will regain public respect when they start doing what they promise and stop just talking about it.