Republicans have emerged from their annual retreat refreshed, revived and with a plan. Over the past several years, emboldened by their 2010 midterm surge, Republicans had used an aggressive approach to governance. They would utilize every lever at their power and use every opportunity to arose to push the nation toward a more fiscally sustainable course.
The problem is that Republicans only control one chamber of the legislature. This, as Charles Krauthammer explains in National Review, leads to a question that has divided the party.
“Can you shrink the government, restraint spending, and bring a modicum of fiscal sanity to the country when the president and a blocking Senate have no intention of doing so?,” asks Krauthammer.
Some have felt committed to try. They pushed hard for dollar-for-dollar cuts and a balanced budget amendment in last year’s debt limit fight, they voted no on the “fiscal cliff” deal because it raised taxes without cutting spending, and are willing to risk breaching the debt ceiling just to try to enact some modicum of entitlement reform.
Others, seeing the writing on the wall, have been unwilling to stake out such a hard-line approach for fear of getting wrongly blamed for default, a credit rating downgrade and higher taxes. These realists know they can’t win. Any of their ideas will die in the Senate before even making it to the President’s desk. All the while the media will paint Republicans as intransigents at best and “hostage-takers” at worst. In the end, with the economy or our credit rating at risk, Republicans have been forced to cave.
Finally, it appears that the two factions have united around a plan for the looming debt ceiling fight. Rather than fight a losing battle for spending cuts and get (wrongly) painted as extremists, use the debt limit to force Democrats to pass a budget, something they are legally obligated to do anyways.
“Since taking the majority, House Republicans have done their job. We’ve passed a budget that promotes economic growth and gets spending under control. But for nearly four years, Senate Democrats have refused to pass a budget. Today’s agreement will hold the Senate accountable for this legal and moral failure. Just as April 15 is tax day for American families, it is budget day for Congress. Unless the Senate acts, there will be no consideration of a long-term debt-ceiling increase. I look forward to working with my colleagues—in both houses and in both parties—on this vital issue.”
Is it completely absurd that you have to use the debt limit as leverage to get Senate Democrats to do what they’re required to do anyways. Yes, yes, absolutely yes. But it’s been nearly four years since Democrats passed a budget, 1,361 days to be exact. And if a short-term debt limit increase is what it takes to draw more attention to that failure then so be it.
Because budgeting is important. It’s why Republicans, especially Paul Ryan, poured so much time, effort and political capital into the Path to Prosperity Budget. It included tax reforms, modest entitlement changes and detailed spending cuts to put the federal budget on a sustainable trajectory. It also served as political fodder for Democrats who twisted its provisions into fallacious claims about ending Medicare as we know it and threatening seniors Social Security checks.
Not it’s Democrats turn. It’s their turn to explain how they’ll maintain the current entitlement structure, pay the growing tab for Obamacare, engage in more stimulus projects and afford the ever-growing interest payments on our debt. There’s only one way to do it: a massive tax hike on the middle class. Finally, hopefully Democrats must own that reality.
Because, as Allahpundit writes for HotAir, [i]t’s one thing to risk default by refusing to agree to spending cuts, it’s another thing to risk default by refusing to agree to even think about how the budget might be balanced long-term.”
Democrats would have to be crazy not to offer a budget under these circumstances…right? Right?!? Wrong. I leave you with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s statement on the GOP’s ever so modest plan:
“This is a gimmick unworthy of the challenges we face and the national debt we should be having.”
Yes, apparently in liberal-ville passing a budget is a gimmick. How sad.