Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Conservative Solutions, White House Attacks

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 Jefferson expressed 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.

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