The longstanding acronym for Republican In Name Only now apparently also means any Republican not defending the New Deal and Great Society. Times are changing.
Planning for the future has always been good public policy but usually bad politics.
These are the types of commercials Democrats typically run. It’s often how Democrats win. President Joe Biden even accused Republicans of wanting to cut these programs during his State of the Union address.
“Think you know Ron DeSantis? Think again,” the MAGA ad narrator says in a scary ominous voice (the video is above for your viewing pleasure, or not). “In Congress, DeSantis voted three separate times to cut Social Security.” Trump has said similar things in speeches and interviews about his likely opponent for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
The fact is, DeSantis didn’t vote to “cut” anything. He voted for three non-binding budget resolutions from 2013, 2014 and 2015 proposed by the Republican Study Committee, the caucus of conservative House members, that would slow the growth of entitlement spending. A “cut” is by definition spending less in one year than the year earlier–or possibly not keeping up with inflation. Neither can be applied to the budget resolutions that DeSantis voted for, along with the other conservative House members. Further, a non-binding budget resolution wouldn’t be enacted even if passed. It’s largely a statement of principles used as a starting point in negotiations.
Trump isn’t the first.
The line of attack against DeSantis has been out there since 2018, first in a Republican gubernatorial primary when GOP contender Adam Putnam aired a commercial that said pretty much the same thing, and made a play for the senior vote, claiming he would champion keeping everything the same for these entitlements. That’s despite the fact that the programs are barreling toward financial insolvency. But that’s another matter.
Since protecting Social Security is so important to Trump, we know who he must have endorsed in that primary. Oh, wait. As Trump reminds America in every speech, he endorsed DeSantis for governor in 2018. In fact, Trump said, “I got him the nomination,” over Putnam the defender of Trump’s beloved entitlements. “By the way, he could have never gotten the nomination. He would be working in either a pizza parlor place or a law office right now.”
Virtually everyone realizes the need for some reforms–either slowing the rate of growth or a massive tax increase–is needed to keep solvent for future generations Social Security (created under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal) and Medicare (created under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society).
Trump’s resistance to entitlement reform, and various other Republican orthodoxy, got him labeled a RINO during the 2016 primary. But as president, with the exception of a few issues such as trade and federal spending, he governed like a strong conservative. Now that Trump is the dominant figure in the party, his supporters have labeled DeSantis and other people who aren’t Trump as RINOs.
There was always this debate in the GOP about entitlement reform, with Paul Ryan types wanting to do something to keep the programs around for the future, while Mike Huckabee types would think about the here and now, and sometimes even use Democrat rhetoric. In politics, the here and now will always win over thinking about the future.
Now Trump is making the issue central to his attacks on “DeSanctimonious.”
DeSantis, not yet a candidate for president, hasn’t punched back against Trump. He even pledged the state of Florida wouldn’t assist in the extradition of Trump regarding the absurd case brought against him by politicized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Extradition wasn’t really on the table since Trump turned himself in, so it was mostly a political gesture by DeSantis. Nevertheless, the attacks are all coming from one direction in what it expected to be the titanic match for the GOP nomination. The sordid meritless get-Trump investigations would tempt a lesser politician, but DeSantis hasn’t taken such bait.
What we didn’t entirely expect is that Trump would be attacking DeSantis from the left. There is typically a name for Republicans that attack fellow Republicans from the left. It’s just four letters, if I remember. You know, some clever little acronym. It’s oh, I’ll think of it eventually.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.