CPI’s Weekly Compass for October 23, 2017

CPI Staff — Thursday, October 26, 2017

Here are the top stories conservatives are following this week:

What’s Really Happening

Senate GOP bucking Trump:
Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) continues to grab media attention for his critiques of Trump after announcing retirement, and now Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) follows his lead. In announcing his retirement, Flake attacked Trump as unfit for office. Its clear both Flake and Corker are making early retirement decisions to avoid losing at the ballot box, as Trump’s conservative agenda continues to gather more support than their attacks.

Other Senate Republicans are pushing against the President’s agenda. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), number two in GOP leadership as Assistant Majority Leader, recently revealed he is blocking the confirmation Russ Vought, Trump’s pick for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) over an unrelated request for more federal funding for Texas hurricane relief. As the Washington Examiner reports, instead of working with the administration on relief funding, Cornyn is holding a highly regarded conservative who is under attack by liberals for his Christian faith.

He’s not the only Republican blocking Trump nominees. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have been stopping the confirmation of EPA nominees over their demand for higher ethanol mandates. This is despite overwhelming evidence that ethanol mandates are bad for the environment and the economy.

After 10 months of inaction on the policy agenda Americans voted for last fall, the Senate GOP is at a crossroads. Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz has a theory of what’s happening: “Go down the roster of Senate committee chairs and you will see that almost every important GOP chair is not only an ineffective counter to the Democrats, they are champions of the liberal cause in their respective issue portfolios.” Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) said today: “We need leadership.”

Spending fight looms, as GOP faces $1 trillion deficit:
As Republicans rightly fight to cut taxes to spur economy and job creation, revenue gains from a rejuvenated economic base could be lost to spending increases. Fiscal Times reports: “The Treasury Department announced Friday that the federal budget deficit totaled $666 billion in fiscal 2017, up $80 billion from 2016 — and the outlook for annual deficits is only getting worse…  barring a drastic change to the tax cut plan Republicans have put forth or an unforeseen focus on spending cuts and entitlement reforms, ‘the Trump/GOP-supported $1 trillion budget deficits are the new normal.’ And the real deficit outlook could be significantly higher than that, Collender warns… ‘consecutive deficits between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion are not out of the question.'”

Conservatives have long and rightly argued that tax cuts spur economic growth and lead to higher tax revenue, however Washington spending has to be held in check for that to matter. Instead, it appears some Republicans are working on a deal with Democrats to break the budget caps set by Republicans in 2011, drastically increasing domestic spending. Heritage’s Justin Bogie warns: “The need for higher defense spending above the Budget Control Act level has created a dynamic in which big-spending lawmakers hold defense increases hostage in exchange for higher domestic spending levels… Spending is out of control in Washington, and the Budget Control Act is one of the few tools in place that pulls Congress toward fiscal discipline. Rather than rejecting this tool, Congress should reform and strengthen it and extend its spending limits indefinitely, creating more incentives to reduce government spending in the future.”

Policy Perspectives

Notable Events

*Full list of all major conservative conferences around the country in 2017-2018 available at CPI’s blog.

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