When it comes to fiscal matters, I am very conservative. As such, I’ve long been outraged by the out of control Federal government spending. Going back to the George H. W. Bush administration (early 1990s), there’s been ample warning by fiscally conservative politicians and talking heads alike regarding this country’s inability to sustain a prosperous nation. Specifically, trying to keep pace with in the midst of increased spending and taxation.
Today, with the National Debt currently standing at more than 14 trillion dollars, the time has long since passed to rein in this debacle. While President Barack Obama looks to raise the “debt ceiling” (aka the maximum amount of money the country can borrow) and raise taxes on “the rich”, House Republicans prefer to cut spending while not raising taxes at all. But since Washington, D.C. requires the cooperation of all three legs (President, Senate and House) of the proverbial stool to get meaningful legislation through, the Republican majority in the House is unable to accomplish all the financial goals it desires. Facing a Democrat majority in the upper legislative chamber as well as a Dem President is a hindrance to said objectives.
As a result, House Speaker John Boehner was forced to put forth his latest plan which raised the debt ceiling by approximately $900 billion while cutting spending over ten years by about that same total (but ZERO tax increases, which his huge). The kicker is the debt ceiling hike would occur immediately, which is a given since the deadline to avoid default (so they say) is late Tuesday evening, August 2. However, the spending cuts are spread out over the next 10 years, with only about $22 billion taking place in fiscal year 2012. Given that spending is projected at around $3.5 trillion for this fiscal year, that’s a paltry 0.63% reduction in spending.
Many fiscal conservatives amongst the electorate (myself included) deem such minuscule cuts as an embarrassment. After all, many busted their tails last election season to send to D.C. those candidates who made a vow to slash trillions from the debt. However, this is a reminder that the only way to get substantive work done on our fiscal house is for fiscally conservative Republicans to regain control of the Senate (need to flip only four seats to do so) and, of course, the White House.
Now I’ve always been a big advocate of voting on legislation with conviction as opposed to concerning one’s self with getting re-elected. Many GOP House members are adamantly opposed to raising the debt ceiling, citing the greater need to cut spending. That is definitely a position with which I agree. However, with no help from the House Democrats, there needs to be 216 GOP members willing to pass this latest Boehner bill so as to put the matter squarely on the shoulders of the Democrats in the Senate. But since Senate majority leader Harry Reid and the other 52 members of his caucus have vowed to table this latest bill, one has to wonder why Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor are going through the insistence that their members get their “a**es in line” and vote for this latest proposal. Obviously, it’s purely a political ploy. The House Republicans can then claim that they have sent two pieces of legislation (including Cut, Cap and Balance) to the Senate, both of which propose to raise the debt ceiling (a compromise on the GOP's part), which is the President’s ultimate goal of this whole debate. But Senate Democrats will have rejected both, which could very well harm them politically, as more than 20 are up for re-election in 2012. Again, since only four Dem seats need to flip (assuming the handful GOP Senators up for re-election hold serve) to give the majority to the GOP, the mindset is to pass a bill now so as to avoid default (the prospects of which may be overblown, but whatever) and focus once again on making a case to voters in 2012.
All this should be a lesson to members of the Tea Party movement, many of whom were seriously engaged in the political process for the first time in their lives. That is, the fight never ends. Then again, Americans standing up for what they believe is the right path to continued freedom and prosperity shouldn't be an easy undertaking. How else would citizens appreciate the greatness of our Nation?
UPDATE: Boehner updates bill to include Balanced-Budget Amendment; Likely to pass House now, but not Senate. Reid will put together his own proposal for which he's calling for "bi-partisan support."