Skip to comments.Cut, Cap, and Balance: The GOP Debt Ceiling Strategy
Posted on 06/10/2011 9:33:28 AM PDT by Kaslin
A plan to attach the three debt-reduction musts to any bill raising the debt ceiling appears to be the chosen path of the GOP.
With nearly half of all Americans, according to the latest CNN poll, saying they fear America is on the verge of another Great Depression, Barack Obama and Congress continue their debt-ceiling tango.
It not just that the various groups involved — the Keynesians, the Cloward-Pivenists, the green eye-shade deficit hawks, and the supply-siders — want to lead, its that they all want to conduct the band.
The debt ceiling, the legal limit on borrowing by the federal government, is a critical issue. Currently its just over $14 trillion, and with all the borrowing the Obama administration has engaged in to fund initiatives like the stimulus program, total U.S. indebtedness is rapidly approaching that number. If the debt ceiling is not raised, the federal government would have to cease borrowing — meaning it could, for the first time ever, default on its obligations.
Some people — especially adherents to the strategy developed in the mid-1960s by sociologists Richard Cloward and Francis Fox Piven — would likely cheer the chaos that would result from a default, as their stated objective is to overload the social welfare system until it collapses under its own weight.
For the rest, however, the need to increase the debt ceiling has created a debate between those who want to key the country on the course Obama has set for it and those who want to use it to trigger major reforms in government spending.
Right now all the action is in the U.S. House of Representatives, where The Hill newspaper recently reported that a majority of the House Republican Conference sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) laying out conditions to be met before a higher debt ceiling is agreed to.
The letter called for discretionary and mandatory spending cuts to halve the budget deficit next year, spending caps to hold Washingtons spending to 18 percent of gross domestic product, and passage of a balanced-budget amendment.
The strategy, which is known by its nickname Cut, Cap, and Balance, is expected to dominate the discussion surrounding the debt ceiling as events move forward.
Conservatives have embraced the plan, which is expected to be put forward in the Senate by the likes of South Carolinas Jim DeMint and freshman Utah Senator Mike Lee. They especially like the part about securing passage of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but only if it includes a supermajority requirement to raise taxes and strict spending limitations pegged to U.S. GDP. Says Colin Hanna — president of Let Freedom Ring, a group that promotes constitutional values and economic freedom (disclosure: I am a senior fellow at Let Freedom Ring):
Its our goal to form a coalition of as many conservative groups as we can find that would support a pledge to commit the signers not to vote for a debt-ceiling increase unless three conditions are met.
Its a strategy that puts Obama supporters in a box. The president and his treasury secretary have been very clear that they want a clean debt ceiling bill, one that is not encumbered by any provisions that will limit the federal governments ability to spend money now and in the future. That approach failed to pass, however, when it was offered as a stand alone bill in the House last week. Nearly half the Democrats joined all the Republicans in voting No.
The Cut, Cap, and Balance measure is almost certain to pass the House. If it fails in the Senate, then the blame for default can be placed at the feet of the Democrats. Hanna tells The Hill:
This provides a remarkable opportunity, because youve got a Democrat leader of the Senate who must deliver to a Democratic president a vote to support a debt-limit increase. It puts them in a pressure cooker we havent seen before.
This aggressive strategy is also likely to mollify members of the Tea Party movement, some of whom have been critical of Boehner and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for what they see as a failure to challenge the White House in a more confrontational way.
With so many Americans focused now on the issue of government spending, the iron is hot in a way it has never before been. The chance to enact real reform before the next election, when the White House may change hands, exists. It may even be, some Republicans suggest quietly, that Obama will seize upon some version of Cut, Cap, and Balance as his version of Bill Clinton’s welfare reform — a way to embrace a signature GOP issue in such a way that it cuts the knees out from under his Republican opponent in the next election, caps his potential vote, and on balance, wins him re-election.
It is somewhat encouraging that the first word in the plan’s title is Cut.
Once the first “trial balloon” bill raising the debt ceiling was passed and signed, the entire issue became just another formality for the Congress to circumvent in order to keep spending. Which leads us to where we are today.
Until the voters firmly understand that our elected representatives in Congress are OUR employees, there is little that will change from one administration to the next. This is one of the reasons that the Civics curriculum and requirement to take Civics to graduate from high school was dropped. The more that the voters understood government and how it was designed to work, the more difficult it was for Congress to sneak things into bills they subsequently passed.
We need to retake control of Congress and make the following changes to the way that they do business.
1. Enact strict term limits. No matter how much you may like your Congressman/woman, they are ALL capable of becoming corrupted by the current system.
2. Require that each bill passed by the Congress have only ONE item in it and that item MUST be associated with powers granted to the government by the Constitution.
3. The people MUST set a strict debt ceiling that Congress cannot exceed. If an unforeseen emergency arises that would cause us to exceed the mandated debt ceiling, there will have to be a special election called and a majority of the voters will have to approve the extra spending. When the debt ceiling is exceeded under these requirements, repayment of the overage MUST be the first priority of the government. It's OUR money and we want it back where it belongs!
4. An oversight committee comprised of citizens appointed by the governor of each state will be required to supervise the Congress and approve the content of ANY bill before it an be presented to the Congress. The oversight committee will ensure that each bill meets the requirements of 1 item and association with a power in the Constitution.
5. For budgetary matters, any item that requires additional spending must be approved first by the oversight committee. If the bill is passed by the Congress, there must be a special election for the people to approve or disapprove the spending. If it passes the popular vote, only then can it be sent to the president to sign or veto. Even though the popular vote may agree with the spending measure, the president is still the chief executive officer of the country and he still gets a say. If he vetoes the bill, it can go back to the Congress only to see if they have the votes to override the veto.
6. Under NO circumstances will the Congress ever gain have control over their own pay, perks, or benefits. Those items will be under the strict control of the voters from each state to set. It is long past time for the inmates to stop controlling the asylum, and there will NOT be pay parity for the Congress persons from each state. This also includes any “retirement” program for the Congress. Being elected to Congress does not exclude them from paying into Social Security (or whatever retirement program exists after SS is bankrupted), nor does it make them millionaire retirees for life. Their benefits from SS are no better or no worse than the rest of us. If they want to pay into a private retirement program, that's their choice, just as it is for the rest of us, but it doesn't allow them to opt out of SS.
7. Congress will no longer be allowed to exclude themselves from any legislation that the create for the rest of us. If they think something is good enough for us, it had better be good enough for them.
8. ALL politicians MUST prove conclusively that they meet the eligibility requirements to hold public office. No more Obamas, no more convicted felons or religious professionals (priests, nuns, rabbis, imams, etc.) holding elected office. In their capacity as religious professionals, since they are excluded from being taxed, they should not have any right to levy taxes on the rest of us.
That's all I can think of at the moment. Feel free to join in and add your own ideas, I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one fed up with the clown college we call Congress!
The problem is worse than debt ceilings and you couldn’t force any sort of a permanent ceiling on debt and retain our present system. The blog section of Ellen Brown’s website offers a number of articles describing the pronblem: http://www.webofdebt.com
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