Much of the news you’ve probably heard coming out of Washington these days has to do with the approaching debt ceiling limit, which we’ve been told will be reached in less than a month. President Obama a few months back was urging Congress to pass a so-called “clean” increase in the debt limit, which meant no cuts in spending at all. When this came up for a vote in the House, 97 Democrats voted for it, while all Republicans and 82 Democrats voted against it. Therefore, the “clean” debt limit increase failed overwhelmingly, 97 to 318.
As I mentioned in last week’s blog, the Obama Administration is trying to stampede Congress into raising taxes as part of a debt ceiling increase. Raising taxes in my view is always a bad idea, particularly at a time when the economy is weak and unemployment is high. The additional burden on the economy from raising taxes would likely result in an even more sluggish recovery than the one we’ve experienced so far. That’s not the answer. So what is?
In my opinion, we need to cut, cap, and balance. This is the plan, adopted with my support, by the Republican Study Committee (RSC). The RSC is a group of House Republicans whose defined purpose is to advance a conservative agenda in the House of Representatives. I’ve been an active member of this group now for 15 years.
Here’s what cut, cap, and balance would do. First, it would require spending reductions that would cut the deficit in half next year.
Second, spending would be capped to return federal spending to 18% of GDP, instead of the 25% level it is now.
And third, both houses of Congress must pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution before the vote on the debt limit occurs. And the Amendment I favor would require a 2/3 vote of both houses to raise taxes in the future, and a 3/5 vote in both houses to raise the debt limit. And finally, the Amendment would require the President to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year.
Let me conclude by emphasizing that the Obama Administration and the Congress must not let the United States default on its debts. But neither can we afford to allow the out-of-control spending in Washington to continue. The current debate is an opportunity for our nation’s leaders to act decisively on both issues, and thus save us from fiscal ruin.