In the fight over the debt ceiling, we keep hearing that Republicans should demand spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
They should be demanding entitlement reform or tax reform. These are things we all desperately need, but it misses the point of the debt ceiling. It also accepts the president’s premise that the debt ceiling must be raised, which reflects a bigger problem, which is, people don’t understand the debt ceiling even on the right. Starting from the premise that the debt ceiling must be raised means people actually think that not doing so will lead to default.
It’s time to start a new, more logical, more fact-based premise for this debate:
DO NOT RAISE THE DEBT CEILING!!!
Now I know that this won’t happen, but that just shows how we’ve already lost here. The Republicans should be willing to “shoot the hostages” and let us go through the debt ceiling. They should start by calling Obama out on his lie; we are not going to default if we breach the debt ceiling (For proof, the debt ceiling is currently set at $16.394 trillion, and as I write this, the debt is at $16.452 trillion. So, we’ve already gone through the debt ceiling.)
The debt ceiling in theory, works the same way as your credit limit does. Once you hit your credit limit, you can’t use the card until you pay the card down. All that happens when we hit the debt ceiling is that the federal government cannot borrow any more money. It means that Washington can only spend the $2.6 trillion they are projected to take in this year. That sounds like a win for conservatism to me.
It’s clear that raising the debt ceiling, even with promised spending cuts will avail us nothing. Once you authorize more borrowing authority, what do you think they will do with that money? We keep talking about slowly shrinking the government because most of us are incrementalists. But this approach can’t work here because we are surrendering to a faulty premise, and once that happens, we will get nothing in exchange for it (see the last debt ceiling fight and the “fiscal cliff” battle). There is a spending problem in DC and most of it is driven by the federal government’s ability to borrow endless amounts of money without consequence.
We have to starve the federal government of this ability and force them to live within their means. Anything short of that is like giving more heroin to the addict. We can’t continue to allow the addicts to set the terms of the debate. Someone has to stand with the taxpayers who are continually getting squeezed by the greedy politicians who don’t even have the courtesy to thank us as they bleed us dry with borrowing to finance this criminal level of spending. The House actually holds the advantage here because they set the spending, so they could just say that they will not raise the debt ceiling. Now, this requires them to actually make the media rounds and start telling people one simple thing:
“Breaching the debt ceiling is no different than maxing out your credit card. You can still pay the bill, you just can’t keep using the card.”
I said going in that my proposal will not happen, it will not be considered by the Republicans, it won’t even be taken up. Sadly, the Republicans have once again surrendered by assuming that the debt ceiling should be increased in the first place. The only question now is, will they have the intestinal fortitude to get something in exchange for their surrender, or will they allow themselves to be walked on like they do every time? Now, this suggestion has actually been made insofar as the Republicans giving Obama a “clean” debt ceiling increase. By “clean”, it means that we surrender on that point and fight him later on. Over at the Townhall Tipsheet, Guy Benson argues just that. His strategy comes in three parts. Benson says, (1)
“Give the president a sizable, no-strings-attached debt limit increase. Sooner rather than later. (I recognize this is a very bitter pill to swallow). In doing so, repeatedly emphasize two points. First, that Republicans went along with Obama’s frivolous and counter-productive tax-hike-on-the-rich scheme to avoid the fiscal cliff, receiving virtually nothing in return. Considering the stakes for tens of millions of middle class Americans, this was the responsible choice — even though it was an extremely unpleasant ideological concession. (Lesson: “Revenues” and “fairness” are now on the books, and thus off the table in upcoming debates). Second, that the president’s last request for a $2.1 Trillion debt ceiling increase came just a year-and-a-half ago, yet Washington’s rapacious spending habits have already exhausted every last dime of those funds. (Lesson: Spending is the problem). Yes, this would essentially constitute two consecutive episodes of Republicans acquiescing to Obama’s demands, with little to show in return. Yes, this would anger some in the base, and it could prompt threats of primary challenges, etc. But it’s only act one.”
What it sounds like is that we should surrender the debt ceiling even though everyone told us that after surrendering on the fiscal cliff that we would actually fight on the debt ceiling. That’s not going to be sold to the base. We can never win the war if we surrender every battle and then say, “We’ll fight them next time.” That’s not going to go over well, especially since the GOP has become notorious for unilateral surrender.
I’ve gone so far to say that while Boehner is German in heritage, he fights like he’s French. If Republicans are going to get elected by saying that they will oppose the Democrats, at some point, they’re going to have to actually do so.
I’m mixed on point (2), which is
“Allow the $1.2 trillion sequester to go into effect in early March. Don’t negotiate over it, despite its very troubling defense cuts. Remember, it’s the delayed byproduct of 2011’s debt deal, and Democrats should not be allowed to pretend that it’s part of a ‘new’ agreement on spending reductions. The Super Committee failed. The White House suggested these automatic cuts, assuming that they’d never happen. They are imperfect, real, and overdue reductions in spending. ‘Shoot’ that ‘hostage’ of the president’s own making.”
While we need actual cuts to the budget (which is actually impossible since there is no budget, more on that in a minute), the defense cuts will not sit well with the right.
Point (3) that Benson makes I and everyone else can get behind.
“Throw down over the expiration of the current continuing resolution (CR) in late March.”
My plan for that would be along the lines of what Senator Sessions of Alabama is suggesting. Use the opportunity to force the Democrats to present a real budget. If it leads to a government shutdown, then it’s a small price to pay to force the Democrats back into normal order. All of this is contingent on Republicans growing a spine. They have to take the offense and stop playing defense by accepting the flawed and fraudulent premises of the Democrats. Force the Democrats to defend the criminal amounts of spending they do for things like robotic squirrels, Moroccan pottery classes and efforts to promote caviar consumption and production. Imagine if Republicans took to the floor and read all the pork in the Sandy relief bill. Or if they read from Senator Coburn’s “Wastebook” to illustrate what our money is being spent on. The only way for us to win a battle and eventually the war is to make arguments for less spending, which can only be done when we take the offense.
Time to take some words from El-Rushbo to heart, “Nobody ever won anything by defending.”