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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

GOP Debt Ceiling Strategy

by Daniel Horowitz, Madison Project: In a sane world, President Obama and the Democrats would be on the hook for requesting yet another debt ceiling increase after already racking up record high amounts of debt. Obama is extremely unpopular, saddled with the failures of Obamacare, and accruing more debt than every other president combined. Yet, thanks to self-immolation on the part of the stupid party, it is Republicans who find themselves getting trapped by their own leverage point.

President Bush was a big spender and conducted two major wars during his eight years in office. When Bush was sworn in on January 20, 2001, the gross federal debt stood at $5.728 trillion. On January 20, 2009, the day he left office, the debt had increased to $10.629 trillion, a jump of $4.9 trillion. Just five years later, the gross federal debt stands at a whopping $17.263 trillion. Obama has amassed $6.63 trillion in debt. It took from our nation’s founding until July 2003 for us to achieve that milestone!

Roughly $6 trillion of the Obama debt increase is comprised of the public share (not intra-governmental holdings), which now stands at $12.305 trillion. It took from our nation’s founding until October 2008 to amass that much in public debt.

Now take a step back and cogitate the past statements from the President – prior to his unprecedented expansion of the national debt.

“Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

Let that seep in for a moment. Now add another $6.63 trillion over five years into the mix.

The debt ceiling, even more than a budget CR, can be messaged in plain language to the average voter. Any responsible person understands that we should not reflexively raise the debt ceiling, eschewing the only tool to force a balanced budget, until we formulate a plan to end the cycle of debt.

And what will happen during the transition phase while we are debating a balanced budget? Will we default?

Once again, let’s review the math of the federal budget.

According to the updated budget projection from the CBO, the Treasury is slated to take in $3.029 trillion in revenue this year. Interest on the debt will cost $233 billion, a mere 7.7% of the massive tax revenue stolen from the private economy. Once that is paid off, there is no default. Period. Anyone who claims we will default is knowingly misleading the public.

What do you do with the remaining funds? You start funding core functions of government and those programs that people are already dependent on.

Social Security (retirement and disability) – $846 billion

Medicare – $505 billion

Medicaid – $298 billion

Defense – $582 billion

Veterans – $85 billion

Those expenditures account for roughly $2.3 trillion. The remaining half trillion can be prioritized as needed for other functions related to homeland security, national parks, or any other limited function. And remember, these numbers are extrapolated over a 12-month time frame. The Treasury would have more flexibility to shift payments for vital services on a week-by-week basis as we work to responsibly downsize the rest of the federal government. Hence, the debt ceiling is a built-in balanced budget mechanism.

Democrats can’t have it both ways. They imposed massive taxation, which has engendered enough revenue to cover the vital functions of government plus all of the entitlements. They can’t tax and borrow. Much like they claimed Obamacare is the law of the land, the debt ceiling is also the law of the land. We already tax; we already borrow. It’s time to force a long-term balanced budget.

Sadly, Democrats can and will have it both ways. Instead of calling out Obama for his debt ceiling mendacity and publicly debunking his irresponsible lie about default, they obsequiously parrot his talking points.

The GOP mantra from Boehner and McConnell over the past few months has gone something like this:

“We are so scared of our own leverage point. We so badly want to avoid default. We absolutely cannot fight on this one, but please, Democrats, can you give us something in return? We don’t know what that ‘something’ should be, but please let us off the hook from using our own leverage point.”

Well, after telegraphing that message to the Democrats for so long, there is not much we can do. At this point, all we can do is defeat these undocumented Democrats in primaries and elect a new cadre of conservative fighters in the primaries – fighters who will telegraph a very different message to our opponents.
--------
Daniel Horowitz is the policy director for the Madison Project. An expert on conservative policy and the legislative process. His concise and timely blogs are read all over the web and in the halls of Congress. Daniel is a frequent guest on talk radio shows throughout the country.

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Posted by Bill Smith at 6:11 PM - Post Link

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