My new oped at Townhall.com: http://townhall.com/columnists/julieborowski/2012/12/12/boehner-punishing-fiscally-responsible-legislators-n1464724
Originally posted at FreedomWorks.org.
With the Obama administration’s phony debt-limit deadline just five days away, all eyes remain fixed on the ongoing debate in Washington. Per usual, nearly all members of the party in power support raising the debt ceiling with no strings attached while most in the minority party do not. The debt ceiling has been raised ten times in just the past decade with both parties playing political games. The Republican Party fell to minority status in 2006 after all but two Republican senators voted for raising the debt ceiling—every single Democratic senator voted against the debt hike. The sad truth is that most politicians care more about being loyal to their party’s leadership rather than standing on principle.
Earlier this week, Speaker Boehner released his compromised debt-ceiling plan which violates the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge because it neither cuts, caps nor balances federal spending. To put it mildly, his sell-out plan does nothing to address our long-term fiscal problems. FreedomWorks has never been afraid to break with Republican leadership when they are wrong. During the Bush administration, we stood strong against TARP, the auto-bailouts, Medicare Part D, Bush’s “stimulus” package and so forth. And today we’re making a principled stance against Speaker Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan.
We’re not going to throw in the towel. Unfortunately, some so-called fiscal conservatives claim that the Boehner plan is simply the “best we can do.” Just because the Democrats happen to control the Senate and the White House isn’t a good enough reason to wave the white flag of surrender. As Ron Paul says, “let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it’s realized that our wealth and liberty are in jeopardy. Let it not be said that we did nothing.”
Many economists agree that an economic collapse is on the horizon if we do not put up a fight to rein in out-of-control spending. It’s an absurd notion to think that a vote against Boehner’s bill is a vote for President Obama’s “plan”. Those who criticize our principled position have fallen for the White House’s scare tactics. The apocalypse isn’t going to happen on August 2nd even if we don’t raise the debt ceiling.
The Boehner plan will bring our national debt up to $23 trillion (instead of $24 trillion) over the next ten years—if all the spending cuts come to fruition. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Speaker’s proposal will allegedly cut $917 billion over the next decade—which is less than this year’s budget deficit alone. But as Cato Institute scholar Chris Edwards mentions, “the ‘cuts’ in the Boehner plan are only cuts from the CBO baseline, which is an assumed path of constantly rising spending. If Congress wanted to, it could require CBO to increase its ‘baseline’ spending by, say, $5 trillion over the next decade. Then Boehner could claim that he was ‘cutting’ spending by $5.9 trillion, even though his plan hadn’t changed. You can see that discretionary ‘cuts’ against baselines don’t mean anything.”
We should also remember that these are promised cuts and absolutely nothing is stopping a future Congress from disregarding them. What are the chances that all of these pledged cuts will materialize in ten years’ time? Slim to none if history is any indication. As the famous quote from Tyron Edward goes, “compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of retaining another—too often ending in the loss of both.”
Let us remember what happened in the 1980’s. President Reagan reluctantly agreed to a debt ceiling hike in exchange for spending cuts and no tax increases in 1987. The Democrats didn’t quite hold up their end of the deal. Instead of the promised spending cuts, all we got was massive tax hikes. We should not repeat history by falling for the same shenanigans over and over again.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand. On which side do you stand: principles or compromises?
Originally posted at Young Americans for Liberty website.
This post does not reflect the views of any organization. It is strictly my own opinion.
Near the stroke of midnight on Friday, House Republican leaders and the Obama administration agreed to a budget compromise to avert a government shutdown. Even though Democrats had full control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, they refused to pass a budget last year. We’re now six months into the fiscal year without a long-term budget. The new budget compromise will keep the federal government operating until final details of the budget deal are hammered out by next week. The compromise leaves much to be desired.
The deal only cuts $38.5 billion in spending. That may sound like a huge amount but let’s put that into perspective. Our national debt increased by $54.1 billion in the past eight days while Congress was fighting over whether to cut $38.5 billion. Uncle Sam will spend $3.8 trillion this year. The U.S. deficit will run $1.65 trillion. The federal government spends way more than it actually takes in. The reality is that the budget deal cuts barely one percent of our budget and two percent of our deficit. The budget deal still leaves us with a record deficit. These measly cuts barely scratch the surface of our fiscal problems.
These billions of dollars in cuts are preferable to simply freezing spending. However, the American people did not elect Republicans to nimble around the edges of the budget. Our financial problems are so dire that we need dramatic slashes to the budget. For the past three weeks, Republican leaders demanded that the budget include $61 billion in cuts. Democrats were refusing to cut anymore than $30 billion. Both amounts are tiny compared to our massive deficit. If those are the only option however, cutting $61 billion is the best plan.
Both sides were unable to agree over a minute $30 billion in cuts. On Friday night, the House Republican leadership caved in to the pressure. Many were hopeful that the Republican leadership would stand their ground no matter what it took. However, they feared sticking to their guns would create political blowback if it shut down the government. They eventually accepted a compromise from President Obama to cut only $38.5 billion. That’s 63 percent of what they had originally pledged. We need brave leaders who are willing to put principles over politics.
The budget compromise does however include quite a few positive aspects. The agreement reached guarantees a Senate debate and vote on legislation that would completely repeal ObamaCare. The House already passed such historic legislation in January by a vote of 245 to 189. Without such a budget compromise, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would likely never bring this repeal legislation to a vote. The deal also denies increased federal funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to hire additional agents to enforce ObamaCare and numerous issues on the Obama administration’s agenda. It will also require mandatory annual audits of the so-called Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that was set up by the Dodd-Frank law or the “Federal Reserve Empowerment Law.” All of these steps are important to roll back the government takeover of our health and financial industries.
It took us many years to get into our current fiscal mess and we aren’t going to solve it overnight. Congress is finally discussing fiscal policies on our terms by discussing how much they should cut from the budget. We may not be fully satisfied by the actual amount. But we should acknowledge that they’re actually cutting rather than adding to the budget like they usually do. The debate in Washington has certainly started to shift due to the growing voice of limited government activists. We should now focus on larger fights such as the upcoming 2012 budget and the debt ceiling. It’s up to us to let them know that we expect even greater cuts from our elected officials in the future.
We are facing a $14.2 trillion national debt. This is not the time to simply trim around the budget’s edges. Washington cannot get its fiscal house in order by cutting less than one percent of the budget. Last November, voters sent a clear message that we want substantial cuts to government spending. That means axing entire departments and programs. It even means putting defense spending on the cutting board. Some lawmakers have serious proposals on the table to rein in government spending including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who has a plan to balance the budget in just five years. The debate in Washington should be focused on these real spending cut proposals rather than cutting a measly $38.5 billion from the budget.
Originally posted on FreedomWorks.org.
On Monday, President Obama took yet another swipe at those who oppose his government expansion policies:
When it comes to just about everything we’ve done to strengthen our middle class, to rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress says no…If I said the sky was blue, they say no. If I said fish live in the sea, they’d say no… Their slogan is ‘No we can’t.’
Of course, these lawmakers do not vote “no” out of spite. Certainly, there are a multitude of perfectly good reasons on why many lawmakers reject harmful legislation proposed by Democratic leaders. By voting “no” on unconstitutional bills, these lawmakers are essentially saying “yes” to freedom and prosperity.
Vice President Joe Biden has claimed that “we all know what John Boehner and his Republican colleagues are against…I don’t know what they are for.” However, the Democratic leadership has ignored alternative proposals by failing to bring Republican sponsored bills to the floor.
This morning on ABC’s Good Morning America, House Minority Leader John Boehner made two clear economic proposals. First, Boehner urged Congress to pass a bill that would cut government spending back to 2008 levels. Secondly, he proposed a two-year freeze on all current tax rates which would stop the job-killing 2011 tax hikes.
These proposals are quickly gaining endorsements from Congressmen including from Paul Ryan (R-WI) who stated that:
Just yesterday, the President’s recently departed budget director joined the growing chorus of Republicans, Democrats, and respected economists in opposition to the looming tax hikes set to hit an economy that simply cannot afford it. We also cannot afford Washington’s reckless spending spree, which is why Leader Boehner is exactly right to match his call to freeze taxes at their current rates with a proposal to cut and cap spending for the coming fiscal year.
Paul Ryan is referencing President Obama’s former Budget Director Peter Orzag’s New York Times column where he states that:
In the face of the dueling deficits, the best approach is a compromise: extend the tax cuts for two years and then end them altogether…Higher taxes now would crimp consumer spending, further depressing the already inadequate demand for what firms are capable of producing at full tilt.
House Republicans are more likely to vote “yes” for these fiscally responsible proposals that rein in our national debt. Voting “no” on all irresponsible spending bills that are not authorized by the Constitution is nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s hope that the Democratic leadership finally listens to the wise proposals offered by other party members.