CALL THE PRESIDENT'S BLUFF: NO DEBT CEILING INCREASE WITHOUT BALANCED BUDGET
by JOEL B. POLLAK 15 Jan 2013, 5:17 AM PDT
Why should it be permissible for President Barack Obama to threaten the nation with default by accusing the Republicans of doing so, when they have not? Why should it be tolerable for President Obama to accuse the Republicans of wanting to end Social Security and take food away from poor kids? Why, after Sandy Hook, should he be able to use gun metaphors to attack the opposition even as he pushes gun control? Why should he be allowed to make up stories about an "economic crisis" that happened during the last debt ceiling fight?
And why should Congress have to raise the debt ceiling when it was raised two years ago, amidst promises of reduced spending that have yet to materialize? The House of Representatives has done its job, passing budget proposals that restrain discretionary spending and reform entitlement programs that are dragging our nation into insolvency. But the Senate has not passed a budget since 2009, the President has only met one budget deadline in four years--both in violation of the law--and the White House refuses to offer real spending cuts.
The revenues flowing into the U.S. Treasury exceed the costs of debt repayments each month. That means the United States will not default if no deal is struck--unless President Obama deliberately stops those payments. Similarly, we will not see the troops go unpaid, or Social Security checks delayed, unless President Obama decides to take those steps rather than cutting other spending first. It is Obama who is holding the metaphorical gun to the heads of the American people--and shame on him for it.
The only immediate consequence of failing to meet the politically-imposed debt ceiling deadline is that parts of the government would shut down until money was made available again. And Democrats relish the thought of a government shutdown--indeed,they have wanted one ever since the Tea Party brought the GOP back to power in the House. They are convinced that Republicans would lose politically in the event of a shutdown, just as Republicans did in the budget battle of 1995-6, a confrontation they have been daring the GOP to re-enact.
But the circumstances are different. We live in a time when many Americans have lost their homes and their dreams to foreclosure, when families have had to cut back on spending to pay down household debt, when people who can't run their finances the way the government does have had to change the way they live their lives. The country is well aware of the importance of living within one's means, and might welcome the opportunity to teach politicians the same lesson, rather than allowing them to continue spending our nation's future away.
What is required is the political courage to stare down President Obama's empty threats. He warns that the troops won't be paid--while he is busy gutting the defense budget. He warns about cuts to Social Security and Medicare--after he cut Medicare by $716 billion to pay for Obamacare, and is allowing both programs to collapse because of his refusal to reform them. He warns credit markets--when the real danger is not that the U.S. would stop servicing its debt, but that our government would fail once again to stop its runaway deficits.
The President's threats mask a fear shared by all Democrats--that they will have to accede to spending cuts they have resisted for generations. That is why they are coming up with all sorts of harebrained schemes--a trillion dollar coin, using the Fourteenth Amendment, stripping spending cuts out of any House bill. They are terrified of having to make the government fit our ability to pay for it. At the same time, they relish the opportunity to shatter the opposition, hoping victory in the debt ceiling fight will allow them to have their way forever.
Enough. It is time for reality to intervene and for Republicans to muster the political courage to see through the intimidation and lies of this President and his media apologists and to declare, patiently but forcefully, that the game is over. There will be no increase in the debt ceiling--not without spending cuts that put the United States on course to a balanced budget. And it is not Republicans who must propose those cuts: it is President Obama and his Democrats, who have shirked their responsibilities and missed their deadlines for the last time.