Heritage Identifies Key Dynamic In Debt Limit Fight

From today’s Morning Bell…

With the nation staring down $14 trillion in debt, a Senate that has failed to pass a budget in 811 days, and a government that can’t decide how to raise the debt ceiling, you might think that a plan to get spending under control and solve the debt ceiling impasse would be a welcome breath of fresh air in Washington. Well, it might be, unless you’re President Barack Obama or liberals on Capitol Hill.

Today, the U.S. House is set to vote on a Republican-sponsored plan known as “Cut, Cap, and Balance” that “would cut spending by $5.8 trillion over 10 years, cap future spending and require Congress to approve a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget before raising the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion,” as The Wall Street Journal reports.

Our sister advocacy organization, Heritage Action for America, announced yesterday that it supports Cut, Cap, and Balance as a step in the right direction, but it’s a plan that the President has given short shrift. White House press secretary Jay Carney described the plan as “duck, dodge and dismantle,” and the White House blog warns that the spending cuts it requires would burden “seniors and the most vulnerable” and would be “harmful to the economic recovery in the short-term.” (Point of fact: Obama’s trillions of dollars in spending have led to 9.2 percent unemployment and anemic job growth.)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) office hysterically warned it would “end Medicare” and called the only proposed plan in Washington a “political stunt.”

These liberal scare tactics echoed the President’s press conference last week in which he struggled to even utter the plan’s name, warned that the measures in the legislation are drastic and that a balanced budget amendment is unnecessary:

This cap — or cut, cap and balance, for example, when you look at the numbers, what you’re looking at is cuts of half-a-trillion dollars below the Ryan budget in any given year. I mean, it would require cutting Social Security or Medicare substantially.

I think it’s important for everybody to understand that all of us believe that we need to get to a point where eventually we can balance the budget.  We don’t need a constitutional amendment to do that; what we need to do is to do our jobs.

It appears that a constitutional amendment is necessary for Congress and the President to do its job, given the continually soaring debt and the Senate’s shocking inability to pass a budget for more than two and a half years. And while the President discounts it out of hand as a crazy idea and “unnecessary”, he might want to talk to his Vice President: Joe Biden voted for the balanced budget amendment in 1997. It’s an idea that Thomas Jeffersonexpressed support for and is one that has come before Congress regularly since 1936. And it’s an idea that $14 trillion in debt and no balanced budgets proves is indeed necessary.

Rather than a balanced budget amendment, the President talks often of a “balanced approach” and “shared sacrifice” (code words for raising taxes), demagogues oil companies and the rich, and insists on his own willingness to compromise. But in the President’s lexicon, compromise is a one-way street, he’s driving the car, the country has to come along for the ride, and those who aren’t in his privileged class are left on the curb, along with the economic growth he’s leaving behind.

The President has threatened to veto Cut, Cap and Balance, a move that House Speaker John Boehner (R–OH) says makes clear “that the issue is not congressional inaction, but rather the president’s unwillingness to cut spending and restrain the future growth of our government.” Obama, instead, would like Congress to go along with his plans for America — and that includes more and more spending. He paints those who oppose him as obstructionist and insists that Congress meet the August 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling. (Never mind that in 2006, every Democrat, including President Obama, voted against raising the debt ceiling. Was that vote “merely symbolic” or “risking default”?)

Jason Furman, the deputy director of the National Economic Council called the Cut, Cap and Balance plan “extreme, radical,” and “unprecedented.” Those words could also apply to a White House and Senate that has failed to pass a budget while spending skyrockets to dangerous levels. Rather than threaten vetoes and condemn proposals that seriously tackle America’s serious spending problems, the White House ought to consider that there might be value in a plan that gets government under control.

Forgive the long excerpt, but it’s necessary to spell out the quality of the plan that Obama is trashing – when the President in fact has put forth no plan to cut spending.

This administration is all about winning the news cycle on a daily basis. They have no interest in governance, only re-election. They want political advantage and positive media coverage above all else.

We in Louisiana got a snootful of that fact last year during the BP oil spill. Billy Nungesser went from Plaquemines Parish President to national media star largely by calling out an ineffective and counterproductive federal response, and the response to Nungesser’s criticism was essentially (and on multiple occasions) “what’s it going to take to get this guy off Anderson Cooper’s show?”

With that as the prevailing mentality, it’s impossible to negotiate in good faith with Obama.

The Republicans are going to lose this debt limit fight, because they don’t have the White House and they don’t have the Senate. Two-thirds of the bodies involved in finding a solution are run by people who are more interested in political advantage than governance.

The reader’s temptation will be to respond that the House GOP is just as politically motivated as Obama and Harry Reid are – and maybe that’s true. But the constituency driving John Boehner and his team is determined to get fiscal sanity out of its politicians and is willing to throw them overboard if they don’t produce it – which means that at this time Republican politics and the governance America needs, or at least the governance the majority of the country’s voters are looking for, are in alignment.

Obama doesn’t share that constituency, and he doesn’t have a majority on his side of this issue regardless of how many bogus polls he may cite to the contrary. He’s going to win this issue because he has a bigger stick than the GOP does. But what he’s doing now is to make sure his victory isn’t a Pyrrhic one; he wants to force the Republicans to own this issue just as he does.

The question is whether those Republicans will let him get away with it.



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