Official Washington regularly casts scorn on the “brinksmanship” that has characterized our nation’s fiscal debates for the last three years. There has been brinksmanship in recent years, but it’s only offensive if you wish to place our nation on perpetual cruise control.
Yesterday at a forum on immigration sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturers, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the Senate’s Gang of Eight bill “is not amnesty” because “amnesty is wiping the slate clean and not paying any penalty for having done something wrong.”
We beg to differ, Mr. Chairman.
In the coming months, you will face tremendous pressure to accept a deal to raise our nation’s debt ceiling. Conservatives around the country will insist the debt ceiling not be raised unless our nation gets on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years and stays balanced. This is not an arbitrary marker; rather, it is the marker laid out by the entire House Republican Conference in what has become known as the Williamsburg Accord.
Conservatives cannot enter into the debt ceiling debate without understanding the promise of the Williamsburg Accord.
On January 18, four current and former chairmen of the Republican Study Committee announced an agreement to re-sequence the 2013 fiscal fights. In exchange for holding the line on the sequester and producing a budget that balanced in ten years, conservatives agreed to postpone the debt ceiling debate for several months. In turn, the debate on the debt ceiling would revolve around enacting the policies that put the federal budget on the path to 10-year balance.
A few days later, Speaker Boehner declared, “It’s time for us to come to a plan that will in fact balance the budget over the next 10 years.” He said it was the GOP’s “commitment to the American people.”
Over at National Review, John Fund provides a rather in-depth answer. Importantly, he says a Walker victory will mean voters view the reforms as working:
Walker can claim to have wiped out a $3.6 billion deficit without raising taxes or seeing service cutbacks. Indeed, property taxes fell statewide by 0.4 percent last year, the first time they’ve fallen since 1998. The average homeowner’s property tax bill would have been about $700 higher if the previous rate of increase had continued. The state now expects to have a surplus of $150 million at the end of the current budget cycle.
One area Fund does not address though is the impact of a Walker win on Congress. If voters reward Walker for taking a principled stand and enacting reforms that actually work, lawmakers in Washington who are willing to demonstrate a seriousness of purpose should feel empowered to lead. Given America’s increasingly perilous state, there is no shortage of opportunities.
First, lawmakers must resist a return to the status quo:
It is no wonder the chattering classes in Washington are whispering about this unique moment being ripe for a third party candidacy. Mark McKinnon and Doug Schoen both have recent pieces in which they argue that the time is ripe for a centrist candidate.