U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and his fellow GOP budget hawks are thunderstruck at the direction Congress is going.
[irp30,0.0,30,6.6]Less than a year after the much-ballyhooed bipartisan "five-year budget deal" was brokered, the Republican leadership is planning to bust the spending caps -- about the only part of the pact fiscal conservatives could stomach.
Breaking the caps, Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner warns, has "all the makings of a `read my lips' broken promise (that) would be tantamount to an act of political war against the conservative movement."
The transportation bill alone is expected to exceed spending caps by $35 billion.
But there's more. Graham hears his party's leaders are also preparing to give the Clinton administration most of what it wants on other major issues as well, including multi-billions for the International Monetary Fund, Bosnia, United Nations arrears and more.
So far there are no proposals to pay for any of this, Graham says, except to run up the spending.
Apparently House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., Senate majority leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and other GOP leaders have concluded -- with both the president and Congress riding high in the polls -- that "go-along to get-along bipartisanship" is the best way to ensure GOP success heading toward November's midterm elections.
But if the Republican Party does not stand for fiscal sanity, where can voters turn to? Graham agrees with Feulner: breaking the spending caps would betray everything GOP budget hawks elected in 1994 and '96 stand for: reduced spending, responsible budgeting, smaller government.
A "bipartisanship" that hikes spending and grows the government will sow the same seeds of discontent that convulsed the House leadership last year, says Graham.
Instead of helping the party in November, this kind of "bipartisan" accommodation could backfire -- demoralizing the GOP base and actually damaging the party's election chances in November.