Morning Action: Debt Limit Debate Demonstrates the Need for Spending Cuts
DEBT LIMIT. Scholars and pundits alike are beginning to express concern about what Washington will decide to do as our nation approaches the debt limit. In light of this debate, Heritage explains Congress must cut spending:
The Congressional Budget Office just dropped a budget update on Washington, and it’s not good. The U.S. government is spending recklessly—and Obamacare is adding fuel to the fire.
The new report comes at a crucial time, as negotiations over the debt limit are starting up again. Here are some basics to help you cut through all the political spin.
Yes, it’s the legal limit on federal government borrowing—but the debt limit is a wake-up call. It’s a chance for Congress and the President to stop the spending insanity.
In a new Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of Americans “favor a federal budget that cuts spending.” Right on. Congress should cut spending, reform these programs that are ballooning the debt, and put the budget on a path to balance within 10 years. Facing the debt ceiling gives them the opportunity to correct the catastrophic course we are on.
DEFUND. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) 97% predicts the Senate will not back down on Obamacare and defund the law as they should, which is why he is calling on the House to remain committed to their defund effort:
Even before the House passes legislation to keep the government running while cutting funds for Obamacare, Sen. Ted Cruz is already telling House Republicans to not back down in the next round.
Cruz made the comment in a statement predicting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his Democratic majority will back a spending bill that holds the 2010 health care law harmless.
“Harry Reid will no doubt try to strip the defund language from the continuing resolution, and right now he likely has the votes to do so,” Cruz said. “At that point, House Republicans must stand firm, hold their ground, and continue to listen to the American people. President Obama has already granted Obamacare exemptions to big corporations and Members of Congress; he should not threaten to shut down the government just to deny those same exemptions to hard-working American families.”
FARM BILL. As lawmakers on Capitol Hill debate farm policy, they’re taking into account competing regional interests, but many of them are not truly considering American taxpayers:
Amid heavy pressure to slash government spending, the debate over how best to protect domestic production of agricultural commodities is ensnarled in a web of competing regional interests on Capitol Hill.
In the old days, the core farm program consisted of making payments to crop farmers when the price of a commodity went down. Today, crop insurance is the main part of the program, and a battle has arisen between the North and the South over how the supplemental commodities programs should work.
Varied political allegiances and philosophies among House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders have generally resulted in a House commodities section of the farm bill that is more attractive to Southerners and a Senate version that is more palatable to Northerners, according to commodities lobbyists, academics, and congressional aides of all stripes.
Both chambers’ measures attempt to strike a balance and include provisions designed to secure votes from members from all regions of the country and from both political parties. Both versions eliminate controversial “direct payments” to farmers based on what they used to produce and instead rely predominantly on continued growth of crop insurance, which provides producers relief from natural disasters and declines in commodity prices.
But each bill includes a host of commodity programs meant to supplement the types of support available to farmers and to make up for the loss of direct payments.
The Heritage Foundation explains that the House and Senate versions of the farm bill are, in many ways, worse for consumers and taxpayers than existing policy. Though direct payments are eliminated, the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance that replaces them is potentially much worse for taxpayers:
However, instead of finding additional savings for taxpayers, the House and Senate bills would continue to play a joke on taxpayers and consumers. The costliest farm program is crop insurance, yet Congress does little to address these costs.
When farmers buy insurance, 62 percent of their premiums are paid for, courtesy of the American taxpayers. Unlike other farm programs, there’s no limit on the total subsidy received by farmers
JOB LOSSES. The world-renowned Cleveland Clinic joins the ranks of an ever growing list of employers that will cut jobs thanks to Obamacare:
The clinic, which has treated celebrities and world leaders such as musician Lou Reed, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former Olympic gold medal skater Scott Hamilton, did not say how many of its 44,000 employees would be laid off. But a spokeswoman said that $330 million would be cut from its annual budget.
“Some of the initiatives include offering early retirement to 3,000 eligible employees, reducing operational costs, stricter review of filling vacant positions, and lastly workforce reductions,” said Eileen Sheil, Executive Director of Corporate Communications for the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
A key part of Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, goes into effect on October 1, when states are supposed to begin offering Americans health insurance options through online exchanges to compare prices.
KEYSTONE. President Obama and lawmakers who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline have needlessly been preventing its complete authorization for five years. Lawmakers in favor of the project are still working to get the project approved:
Fighting over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will mark its fifth anniversary on Thursday as lawmakers continue to mull a bipartisan, non-binding resolution declaring the project’s approval in the nation’s best interest.
The resolution is cosponsored by North Dakota Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, and John Hoeven, a Republican. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana also is a chief co-sponsor.
Hoeven says the measure if passed would put the House and Senate on record as saying the pipeline project is tied to national security, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Its approval, he says, also would increase pressure on President Barack Obama to sign off on it, something he has so far refused to do.
Heritage explains that the Keystone XL pipeline would both increase America’s energy supply and provide American jobs.
CONSERVATIVES. The Heritage foundation will host Conversations with Conservatives today at 1 p.m. ET. The event will be streamlined live on Ustream. Tune in to get conservatives lawmakers’ perspectives on issues ranging from Obamacare to the continuing resolution to Syria. Participants include:
- Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID)
- Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS)
- Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH)
- Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)
- Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX)
- Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
- Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
- Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA)
- Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY)
- Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)