02.17.2012 1

Republican? Democrat? What’s the difference?

Demopublican and RepublicratsBy Rebekah Rast — The gap of opposing viewpoints between Republicans and Democrats in Congress is closing.

The fears of a Tea Party takeover in Congress from the 2010 elections are far gone, and in fact, should now be laughed at.

Republicans had their opportunity, as the leading party in the U.S. House of Representatives, to take a stand — the stand they promised they’d take to the American people — to fight against frivolous government spending, overregulation of the private sector and to put America back on a path to prosperity.

Where does the health of America stand two years after those promises were made?

The country now boasts a national debt of $15.3 trillion — now exceeding the national economy, which at the end of 2011 came in at $14.95 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  The much-too-low unemployment rate touted by the Department of Labor of 8.3 percent is more accurately estimated to be closer to 11 percent.  Also, in 2011, Congress increased spending from the year before, raised the debt limit by $2 trillion, and funded ObamaCare.  And you can’t forget about Congress’ most recent move: extending the payroll tax cut along with unemployment benefits — with absolutely no way of paying for it.

For all of this to have happened the U.S. House, again with Republicans in the majority, had to agree to it — and that they did.  What has happened that caused Republicans, who stand on a platform of fiscal conservatism and smaller government, to have seemingly forgone these values in exchange for the status quo?  Why aren’t they standing up for the core conservative values on which they campaigned?

In an effort to not overlook what the Republican Party did accomplish these past two years: They have kept all the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts intact to date, and well, it’s hard to think of much more.

Under this House Republican leadership, compromises have been few and more often than not the true conservative agenda has been put aside in order to appease Democrats in the Senate and White House.

How, two years after a huge nationwide movement like the Tea Party, has so much changed?  Does getting a taste of the power and prestige of Capitol Hill strip a member of his core ideals?  Does feeling the pressure of having to kowtow to leadership cause new members to buckle?  Or maybe it’s the desire to keep ones job because, after all, two years really isn’t enough to accomplish all you want, right?! Or is it some kind of strategy, whereas after the elections if Republicans retain a majority in the House they can throw all these concessions in the face of Democrats and claim the nation hasn’t improved so now they get to do things their way?

Regardless of the reasoning or explanations behind this new sheepish Republican majority, it is bothersome.  How can you know that who you elect will fight for your rights and protect your interests?  But then again, this is the joy of a democratic form of government, in two year’s time House members can be gone as quickly as they came.

Until November rolls around, I think all voters who associate themselves with the Republican Party deserve to see a change in the House of Representatives.  After the payroll tax debacle, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said, “I think we’ll get through this moment and the dust will settle and people will see the differences [between political parties].”

He better hope he’s right.  Members of that Chamber need to get back to the basics of why they are in charge and not be afraid to throw their weight around.

America is in trouble and every move made thus far has only plunged the nation further into debt.  If there was ever a time for fiscal conservatism to come to fruition in the halls of Congress, now is that time.

American taxpayers are tired of paying for more of the same.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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