MEMO FOR THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT
Congress Must Pass A 10-Year Pathway to Balance to Raise the Debt Limit
On New Year’s Eve, outgoing Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner informed the American people the federal government once again reached its credit limit. Now, like reckless teenagers, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats are demanding another credit limit increase with no strings attached. Not only are they jeopardizing our future, but also our children’s.
Today is the day we stop stealing from our children. Conservatives should not raise our nation’s statutory debt limit unless Congress passes and the President signs into law real reforms and immediate spending reductions that place America on a path to balance within 10 years without raising taxes and keeping the budget in balance. Although the Administration currently has authority to prioritize interest payments when the nation hits the debt limit, Congress should also pass legislation to reaffirm that authority, thereby avoiding the administration’s reckless and false claims of default. By doing so, America’s full faith and credit will not be questioned.
Issue in Brief
On August 2, 2011, President Obama fought for and won a $2.1 trillion increase in our nation’s statutory debt limit. A mere 518 days later, the Federal government hit its $16.394 trillion debt limit.–during which time, the U.S. accumulated nearly $47,000 of debt every second. Because of massive overspending, America is on an unsustainable fiscal path. Unless immediate action is taken, our future is destined to be that of Greek-style implosion or the slow managed decline of Western Europe. Neither option is acceptable.
- The United States will not default on its debt and the full faith and credit of America will not be questioned. Not only does the federal government have the funds necessary to service our debt, the executive branch has a constitutional obligation to do so. After we service the debt we also have the ability to prioritize spending obligations to ensure critical programs are funded first with remaining revenue.
- America must get on a path towards a balanced budget. Even then-OMB director Jack Lew acknowledged as much in 2011, misleading Americans that the Obama Administration’s “budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we’re not adding to the debt anymore; we’re spending money that we have each year.”
- Our developing debt crisis is a result of overspending, not under-taxing. In 2007, prior to the financial crisis, government revenue stood at 18.5 percent of our nation’s economy — between 1959 and 2008, the average stood at 18.1 percent of GDP.
- Since 2001, the debt limit has been raised 13 times for a total of $10.4 trillion; more than $5 trillion of that has come during President Obama’s first four years in office. Not counting the tens of trillions in unfunded future promises, every man, woman and child in America is responsible for $52,000 in debt.
Conservatives Must Demand A Path To A Balanced Budget to Raise the Debt Limit
Putting our nation on a path towards balance within 10 years — the traditional congressional budget window — is a moral obligation. No American should have to tell an 8-year-old child that we cannot get our nation’s house in order by the time he or she goes to college. There are many ways to get to a balanced budget and both Democrats and Republicans have an obligation to explain what path they will choose.
- Passing and living under a budget is common sense, but the Democrat-controlled Senate has failed to do so. This is the height of irresponsibility.
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and the House Republican Study Committee have each proposed budgets that balance within the 10-year budget window.
- The 2014 House budget should also balance within the 10-year budget window.
Getting on a path towards balance will require looking throughout the budget.
- The main driver of our nation’s fiscal challenges is our unfunded entitlement promises. Those programs should be reformed to ensure they are there for this and future generations in an affordable way.
- The discretionary budget has ballooned in recent years and should be returned to reasonable levels. Immediate savings, which are easily found in the discretionary budget, will have a major impact in getting on a path towards balance by driving down interest costs in the future.
- The first responsibility of the federal government is the defense of the nation. The department of defense should spend the least amount of money possible in order to provide the defense capabilities necessary to win wars today and in the future. The defense budget should be set based on these needs, not to find savings.
Taxes should remain at their historical average — 18.5 percent of GDP.
- President Obama held our nation’s economy hostage to get the tax increases he desired — extending parts of the Bush tax cuts but not all of them.
- There is bipartisan consensus that reform of the tax code is needed. This reform should be done to keep government revenues at no more than 18.5 percent of the economy.
The nation wants an end to “cliffs.”
- The President and Senate have consistently constructed “cliffs” and “crises” by refusing to act — first on H.R. 1 in 2011 which almost led to a government shutdown, later on the debt limit after House Republicans passed a responsible plan which would raise the debt limit while putting our nation on a path towards balance, and again recently by failing to act on a House-passed plan that would have averted the fiscal cliff.
- Through debt limit negotiations, Congress must require the Administration to accept a prioritization bill that ensures the President uses existing authority to prioritize interest payments on our debt to avoid a federal debt default. The Obama Administration made a cynical political calculation to ignore its ability to prioritize spending so it could scare Americans about the impact of balancing the budget through the debt limit.
CONSERVATIVE ACTION PROJECT
David N. Bossie, President, Citizens United
Chris Chocola, President, Club for Growth
Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment
Penny Nance, President, Concerned Women for America
Tim Phillips, President, Americans for Prosperity
William Wilson, President, Americans for Limited Government
Duane Parde, President, National Taxpayers Union
Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring
Andrea Lafferty, President, Traditional Values Coalition
Tom Schatz, President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Alfred S. Regnery, President, The Paul Revere Project
Lewis Uhler, President, National Tax Limitation Committee
Gene Mills, President, Louisiana Family Forum
C. Preston Noell, President, Tradition, Family, Property
Seton Motley, President, Less Government
Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
David Williams, President, Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Herman Pirchner, President, American Foreign Policy Council
Brent Bozell, Chairman, ForAmerica
Jim Ryun, Chairman, The Madison Project
Stuart Epperson, Chairman, Council for National Policy
J. Kenneth Blackwell, Chairman, Coalition for a Conservative Majority
Peter Thomas, Chairman, The Conservative Caucus
Morton C. Blackwell, Chairman, The Weyrich Lunch
Richard Viguerie, Chairman, ConservativeHQ.com
Al Cardenas, Chairman, American Conservative Union
Mathew D. Staver, Chairman, Liberty Counsel Action
James Martin, Chairman, 60 Plus Association
Erick Erickson, Editor, RedState.com
T. Kenneth Cribb, former Domestic Advisor to President Reagan
David McIntosh, former Member of Congress, Indiana
James Miller III, former Reagan Budget Director
Edwin Meese III, former Attorney General
Craig Shirley, Reagan Campaign Biographer
Michael Needham, Chief Executive Officer, Heritage Action for America
Susan Carleson, Chairman & CEO, American Civil Rights Union
Diana Banister, Director, Citizens for the Republic
Robert (Bob) Reccord, Executive Director, Council for National Policy
Angelo M. Codevilla, Professor Emeritus, Boston University
Amy Kremer, Chairman, Tea Party Express
(All organizations listed for Identification purposes only)
Politico Op-Ed by Michael Needham, Tony Perkins and Chris Chocola: Why debt limit must be used to force a balanced budget.
The Heritage Foundation: Morning Bell: Don’t Raise the Debt Ceiling Without Balancing the Budget.
Memo to the Movement [PDF].