My Foundry piece this week explains the clean debt ceiling suspension is just the beginning of a sustained effort to abdicate fiscal responsibility. Some Republicans are discussing the possibility of reinstating the “Gephardt Rule,” a mechanism that allowed for approval of legislation increasing the nation’s statutory debt limit without an actual vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. Reinstating this rule would supposedly allow lawmakers to avoid periodic debt ceiling dramas, to the detriment of the American people:
America established a statutory debt ceiling in 1917 as part of the Second Liberty Bond Act. According to the non-partisan Congressional Research Services, the debt ceiling “imposes a form of fiscal accountability that compels Congress and the President to take visible action to allow further federal borrowing when the federal government spends more than it collects in revenues.”
Washington is in the midst of a critical debate over the future of Obamacare – a debate so critical President Obama and Harry Reid were willing to shutdown the government for fear the debate would lead to the unraveling of their unworkable law. At the same time, discussions about the debt limit are taking place.
The Heritage Foundation and other conservatives have explained that U.S. has much more tax revenue coming in on a daily basis than it has to pay each day on interest payments; this means the U.S. has the financial means to cover its debt obligations without incurring more debt. Heritage notes:
The Obama Administration argues that failure to raise the debt limit would lead to a default on federal debts, causing unacceptable harm to the economy. But the President has ample discretion to prioritize debt payments and avoid default. The President has failed to address the more fundamental risk of default: unconstrained increases in entitlement spending.
Washington is already starting to freak out about the upcoming debt ceiling debate. And it appears that reconciling lawmakers’ ideas from both sides of the aisle is already considered an insurmountable hurdle.
So as we approach the debt ceiling fight, how are lawmakers to obtain a victorious outcome – an outcome that serves the American people well and helps the economy? We’re sure to see lots of whining and histrionics from D.C.
And Congress may end up in a “stalemate” because liberal and conservative principles are like oil and water. But what does this mean for conservatives? How do we define victory? Should conservative lawmakers roll over and sully their principles so that an “agreement” can be reached?
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.”
IMMIGRATION. Last night on “The Kudlow Report” Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint explained to host Larry Kudlow what’s wrong with the Gang of Eight’s immigration plan: “It’s unfair, it costs too much, and it’s going to make the problem worse.”
He explains that the bill is going to give legal status and eventual citizenship to those who came here unlawfully, and the rest of the components of the bill are just promises.
Then, he added, the only way to solve this problem is to fix our immigration system in a way that “works for Americans” before we try to deal with the problems that our system has created.