Who Cares What the Left Thinks?
It's begun. Less than a week after President Obama won re-election, the "smart" people in politics are saying that compromise -- meaning higher tax rates and more unaffordable spending -- should be the order of the day. These people include House Speaker Boehner, Vice President Biden, and former Clinton staffer Erskine Bowles, a leading proponent of the so-called "balanced" approach.
Conservatives and Republicans in the Senate and House should ignore these so-called "smart" people completely and utterly. We do not have a tax problem; we have a spending problem. The federal budget has gone up 60% since 2001, and taxes are only low because the economic recovery is weak. The simple fact is that our debt is over 100% of GDP for the first time since World War II, and unlike that time period we have huge entitlements and no world economic dominance to fall back on to reduce the size of the debt as compared to our economy.
This means our debt is going to absolutely skyrocket in future years, and even the Congressional Budget Office has shown a return to the long-time tax average won't mitigate the coming disaster in any substantive fashion.
In his newest book, The Debt Bomb, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) examined a potential scenario in which America's debt is called to account. One can dispute the specifics of Coburn's scenario, but it is clear that barring major changes, once our debts become due -- and this will take place in the next several years -- it won't be America controlling America's future. It will be our debtors, much the same as we are seeing in Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland.
Republicans will be tempted to blame this on President Obama. While much of the explosion of debt over the last several years is indeed the fault of his policies, going forward, Republicans and conservatives need to ignore the temptation to blame Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) or any other people. The threat is the debt, and it is the fault of everyone in Washington for not dealing with it, regardless of party. Playing the blame game will simply distract from dealing with this threat.
How should Republicans and conservatives deal with the debt? They should stop listening to the "smart" people who have been part of the problem in Washington for years on decades. They should stop trying to compromise because people like Paul Krugman say they are holding America hostage. They should definitely stop listening to people who say the future of the GOP depends on compromise -- what use is the future of a political party if the country is collapsing?
Jesus said "Ye shall know them by their fruits." This is how we shall know who in the Republican party actually cares about the future of America. They should ignore what the media says and what the polls say, even if it looks like voters will cost the GOP the House in 2014 and the presidency in 2016. Again, what use is the future of a political party if the nation it is supposed to help lead is controlled by debtors? Besides, while the GOP may die if it forces these changes, it will die if it doesn't, as libertarians and fiscal conservatives continue to stay home, and more Americans become reliant on unaffordable social welfare programs.
So what positive actions should fiscal conservatives in the House and Senate take? First, hold to no tax increases in the New Year, except to let the payroll tax holiday expire. Second, hold true to the Budget Control Act, which requires $2.1 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years. Third, hold true to cutting all of the farm subsidies in the farm bill and at least 30% of the farm bill's food stamp costs.
Fourth, and most importantly, use the debt ceiling debate in January and the budget debate in March to the advantage of America. Put forward $600 billion in cuts and at least two hundred billion in elimination of tax loopholes in exchange for a debt ceiling hike, meaning a total of $800 billion in deficit reduction in one year, plus interest payment savings. Then, put forward strong Medicare and Social Security reforms into the Continuing Resolution debate in March, along with tax reform.
The media and liberals will jump on this, of course. Republicans will be accused of trying to shut the government down, even though they are simply providing a framework under which the government will spend in the future. If the government shuts down, that's on the president and his allies. They'll be accused of hurting the poor, at which point Republicans will note a fiscal collapse would hurt the poor worse. They'll be accused of hurting the future of the GOP, at which point they should say, "I don't care what the future of the GOP is. The future of America is more important."
The important thing here is not to compromise on what's best for America. House and Senate Republicans and conservatives have the power to hold up bad legislation and pass good legislation. Niggling on the details is what caused the disasters in April and August of last year, leading to no cuts and bare reductions in the growth of spending. Note that even while compromising to the tune of what the left dictated didn't help Republicans or conservatives in this month's elections, and may have even hurt.
The future of America has a sliver of hope, and it's in the House and Senate. Citizens should encourage that hope to fully blossom into positive results.
Paul Revere is the pseudonym of a D.C.-based political blogger. He has contributed to Race42012.com, American Thinker, Conservative Home USA, and Reason Foundation's Out of Control blog.