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GOP Mulls Shutdown as Candidates Ignore Budget Vision

It’s time for some leadership from the presidential field.

Congress has until midnight Tuesday to pass a spending package before the government begins another fiscal year. We saw what happens when Congress goes past the brink as it did in 2013: Gasp — a barricaded World War II Memorial and closed national parks.

As the hours wind down to midnight, Sept. 30, the question in lawmakers’ minds should be on the future of federal fiscal health. But Congress will most likely pass yet another short-term funding measure, thus kicking the can further down the road.

Unfortunately, few GOP candidates are willing to talk fiscal reform. You’d think they would, considering the primaries are the perfect time to mash through policy ideas, to figure out exactly what the Republican Party will stand for. But perhaps we’re overly optimistic, as candidates are more content to make viral videos and try to out-insult Donald Trump.

As National Review’s Kevin Williamson writes:

> “We conservatives, and the Republican elected officials who are, lest we forget, our only real channel of political action, play a game of double make-believe: They’re smart enough to know what the fiscal realities are, but they’re also smart enough to know that campaigning on those realities is a loser, and we understand their dilemma and don’t expect actual policies to look very much like campaign documents, anyway, so everybody ends up pretending that the choice is between competing non-viable budget plans rather than between wishful thinking and reality. My friend Larry Kudlow sometimes wincingly describes the realist school of budget-hawkery as the ‘eat your spinach’ faction or the ‘root-canal guys,’ and no doubt there is real political wisdom informing that view.”

Rand Paul took a literal chainsaw to the tax code in an Internet video, and Ted Cruz has made mention of fiscal responsibility too — in fact, he’s made a career already of fighting GOP leadership on budget issue. It’s not an easy message, though, to talk about tough times, to explain something as dense as the budget process and as light a read as the tax code, and preach cuts and reforms to defense spending, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Career politicians play a long game of self-preservation. The candidate for the job of fixing the budget and national debt is the person who makes hard decisions, is unpopular for it, and then retires knowing they made positive changes for their nation. Perhaps that’s why the people who have never held office hold an advantage right now in the primary.

Perhaps the Grand Old Party should look to a particular former leader for guidance on the kind of person that needs to approach the budget. Taylor Millard notes that former president Calvin Coolidge took a razor to U.S. spending. “Coolidge’s time in office is called ‘The Roaring 20’s’ for a reason because of how growth skyrocketed and people from all ways of life saw benefit,” Millard writes. “It wasn’t because of new entitlement programs, but because of budget vigilance.”

The next president will send the nation into the 2020s. Let’s set the stage so the nation can roar once again.

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