The conservative backlash against government spending comes at a delicate moment for Trump’s Republican Party.
Barely a year into his first term, the populist president has shown inconsistent commitment at best to the three planks that have defined his party since the Reagan era: fiscal responsibility, traditional family values and a strong national defense. With the GOP’s fiscal responsibility now in question, the party’s commitment to family values also continues to suffer as Trump and some high-profile allies struggle under the weight of repeated allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse.
Fiscal discipline has long helped unify an otherwise divided GOP, but that no longer appears to be the case as Republicans brace for a difficult midterm election season.
Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the network backed by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, described the recent spending from Trump and Congress “a far cry from the so-called fiscal responsibility Americans heard on the campaign trail.”
Voters may forgive Trump’s spending habits because he’s new to Washington, but they will not be as kind to Republicans on the midterm ballots, said David McIntosh, president of the conservative Club for Growth, who lashed out at last week’s Republican-backed spending plan as “of the swamp, by the swamp and for the swamp.”
“They’re not going to give a pass to the Republicans in Congress unless they start doing something to restrain the growth of government,” he said.
“You can’t let (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell and the spenders in the Senate set the agenda this year,” McIntosh continued. “Because politically, if they set the agenda, then you’re going to see big losses in the House and the Senate.”