If it weren’t for Mitch McConnell, Mark Walker would be having the worst week in Washington. McConnell’s week has been rough because of events caused by forces bigger than him like the failure of another repeal-and-replace bill and the loss of his chosen candidate in the Alabama Senate primary runoff. Walker’s week has been bad because of self-inflicted wounds.
If a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth, as Michael Kinsley famously said, then Mark Walker has been telling some tough truths about himself and the GOP.
Walker’s first gaffe came when told a press conference that he would refer to the women members of the Republican Study Committee as “eye candy” if it weren’t sexist. Well, it is sexist and he did it anyway. The comment exposes an underlying attitude Walker holds toward women—that their appearance is as significant as their accomplishments.
While Walker’s personal biases can’t be extrapolated to every other Republican, they do serve as a reminder to how few women are in Republican leadership roles. The day after Walker’s comment, Republicans rolled out their tax reform plan with cadre of 18 men, all but one white, standing under portrait of George Washington. Apparently, none of the Republican women in Washington have much input into tax policy.
Walker’s second gaffe explained that budget-busting tax reform proposal. He told the raw truth about Republicans’ views on deficits when he said, “It’s a great talking point when you have an administration that’s Democrat-led. It’s a little different now that Republicans have both houses and the administration.” In other words, all that GOP talk about Democrats’ fiscal irresponsibility was just verbal irresponsibility—nothing more than a talking point.
In fact, when it comes to deficits, Republicans are the party of deficit spending. They routinely grow the deficit to fund tax cuts to their wealthy benefactors. Ronald Reagan’s tax reform caused exploding deficits in the 1980s. George W. Bush gave the wealthy a massive tax cut at the same time he launched wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and provided an expensive prescription drug program with no way to pay for it.
Bill Clinton left George W. Bush a balanced budget which he promptly squandered. GOP policies set the stage for massive deficits and an exploding debt when the recession hit. Obama cut the deficits by about two-thirds before he left office. The GOP plan will almost certainly send those deficits soaring again. Republicans like to portray themselves as fiscally conservative but as Mark Walker said, that’s little more than a talking point.