What Happened to Republican Conservatives?
Conservative views are no longer necessary to be a Republican. The only requirement is to be subservient to Trump and follow where he leads which sometimes even he does not know. While social conservatism may still be important because of the power of the Evangelicals, fiscal conservatism which was once the driving force of the Republican Party is no longer necessary because Trump willed it so.
Once upon a time, like a half century ago, Republicans believed that government spending that surpassed government revenue was a bad thing. The GOP was very concerned about budget deficits and the national debt. But no longer. Budget deficits under Trump have risen to a trillion dollars annually, more than a 50 percent increase since Trump took office. And the national debt is up to about $22 trillion, the highest ever and continuing to increase. These numbers are in spite of the Trump administration cutting government spending in many areas that would aid the poor. The driving force behind the deficits and national debt are the Trump tax cuts which benefited Big Business and the .01 percent of wealthy Americans.
However, the rules and regulations for the tax cut were written in a sloppy fashion by Congress and it was unclear exactly how they were to be implemented, what exemptions could be made and so forth. Thus as soon as the laws were passed and signed in 2017, corporate lobbyists descended on Washington to lobby the federal agencies who were to write the rules and regulations. The people in charge were often former lobbyists themselves who were appointed to their positions by Trump. So lobbyists old and lobbyists new got together and created rules and regulations that benefited the big corporations even more by cutting back their tax bills further. (This was Trump’s idea of clearing the swamp.) However, hundreds of billions of dollars in expected federal revenue went down the tubes, increasing the deficit and debt.
If anyone can remember the rationale for Trump’s tax cuts, it was to have American companies have more money to build factories and plants in the United States instead of abroad. And also to pay more taxes in the United States instead of to other nations. However, Trump’s fantasy scenarios never materialized. With the tax cuts, corporate executives got higher salaries and bonuses, stockholders got higher dividends, and the companies bought back more stock to boost its price as many executives are paid on the basis of the company’s stock price. Were new factories and manufacturing plants built in the U.S? Not many that had not been already planned. And the rise in tax revenue appears to have never happened no matter what Trump says.
There is also the matter of tariffs and trade policy for Republican so-called conservatives to digest. The Republicans have always been the party of free trade with a willingness to compete against other nations on the basis of US productivity. While it is true China has been stealing our intellectual property and those of our allies, we should have banded together with other nations to challenge the Chinese together. And putting tariffs on European goods has gone against long-standing Republican dogma favoring free trade. Not that Trump gave a damn.
Trump sees the world through distorted lenses that magnify his self- interest instead of what is best for America. His motto should really be Make Trump Great Again instead of Make America Great Again. And whatever he does, Republican politicians follow him in lock-step, afraid to confront him. The GOP is the party of Trump and not the party of conservatives. Will true conservatives ever be able to take it back?