Advancing the Ball with Reconciliation

May 07, 2012

Some in the Washington media seem determined to turn the axiom "good policy is good politics" on its head. Rather than taking an objective look at the challenges facing our nation and reporting on the possible solutions, they are quick to throw out headlines such as "defense trumps poverty."

Last night, POLITICO put forth its doomsday scenario in a piece entitled, "GOP: Shield Pentagon, cut poverty programs."

Setting the stage for an emotional floor fight Thursday, House Republicans pushed ahead Monday evening with plans to protect increased defense spending without raising taxes, largely by cutting more from domestic programs, including aid to the poor.
The stark choices incorporated in the giant bill will have an immediate impact on working-class and immigrant families and offer a preview of the fall campaign and bitter budget fights facing Congress after the elections. (emphasis added)

With reporting like that, who needs a congressional campaign committee?

As Heritage Action has said before, the reconciliation process puts out a marker on the appropriate direction of policy. House Republicans are trying to set a new tone and demonstrate they are serious and genuinely prepared, come 2013, to make the necessary choices our nation needs.

Indeed, the reconciliation measure - which is essentially a spending reduction plan - takes an important step forward. It seeks to address two pressing problems: the soaring cost of entitlement spending and the arbitrary defense cuts mandated by the so-called Budget Control Act.

In the afterglow of President Obama's stimulus binge, spending on food stamps has doubled, going from $39 billion in 2008 to $80 billion in 2012. The budget reconciliation measure begins an honest and much-needed conversation about the food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP is America's fastest growing welfare program and absent commonsense reforms, will further increase the burden on hardworking Americans. While there is plenty of room for improvement, lawmakers deserve credit for beginning a conversation with the American people on cradle to grave welfare state envisioned by many on the left.

One of the driving forces behind the reconciliation measure is to prevent the arbitrary defense cuts mandated by last summer's debt deal. Despite accounting for just one-fifth of the federal budget, defense has absorbed one-half of the spending reductions. Arbitrary defense cuts are no way to balance the budget, and Republicans are wisely moving to ensure the integrity of America's defense.

The Heritage Foundation acknowledges the package "falls short in certain respects" but also notes it "should be taken seriously and should be viewed as a first step toward tackling the serious spending and debt challenges confronting the nation."

House Republicans deserve credit for beginning a serious conversation on spending, welfare reform and defense. Despite the spin and antics from the left and hostile media outlets, Heritage Action maintains that good policy is indeed good politics. Our nation is fast approaching a point of no return, and Americans will respond positively to serious leaders who put forth bold ideas.