05.06.2011 1

Tom Davis’ Prophecy

By Robert Romano – It was a telling moment in America’s political discourse. It hinted at how Republicans might govern should they reclaim a majority in one or both houses of Congress in 2010. “We need to capture this lightning in a bottle,” former Virginia Republican Congressman Tom Davis said of the tea party movement in 2009. Tellingly, he added, “But you can’t let them run the show”.

It was a prophecy. Thanks to the tea party, Republicans won the 2010 elections and won a majority in the House of Representatives. So, the lightning was captured in a bottle. And, the tea party is most certainly not running the show — especially when it comes to restoring order to the nation’s fiscal house.

How else to explain the failure of House Republicans to cut $100 billion in 2011 as promised in the Pledge to America? Or their 2012 financial plan that does not contemplate a balanced budget for the next 26 years? Or the fact that although the nation faces a $1.645 trillion budget deficit this year alone, the 2012 budget will only cut $111 billion from outlays.

Their only claim to reducing the $14.3 trillion national debt is as a measly percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) until 2037, when the nation would finally be in a position to begin paying it off. Until then the debt will still rise every year to $22 trillion by 2021 likely — even if they get everything they want.

This minimalist approach sends exactly the wrong message to American people: that their government is not offering solutions that are commensurate to the problems we are faced with.

And that is why they are now demanding that Republicans respond to their concerns in the latest debate over increasing the $14.294 trillion national debt ceiling. If the ceiling must be increased, they want big cuts and other major reforms in return.

Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson has called for “$100 billion of discretionary spending cuts including the elimination of whole departments and agencies like HUD and Education, severe cutbacks in other areas like Energy, EPA, and Labor, and zero-funding things like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for Arts and Humanities, and ending community block grants.”

But he does not stop there, saying immediate cuts are not enough to get the nation’s fiscal house into order. He said, “Statutory spending caps are also needed on the total budget ratcheting down to 18 percent within 5 years, along the lines of the proposed Balanced Budget Amendment, or passing the Amendment itself. Only with real limits on Congress’ future spending can the budget ever be balanced some time in our lifetimes.”

He added, “Finally, hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to so-called ‘mandatory’ spending must be included to prove a commitment to real fiscal responsibility.” Currently “mandatory” spending, now $2.177 trillion, will rise to $3.45 trillion by 2021 — all without any vote in Congress.

So, Wilson has also called for extensive cuts to this elusive category of spending: Unemployment cut by $110 billion, getting back to a more limited approach (less than 6 months) totaling about $40 billion. Food stamps cut by $50 billion, the earned income tax credit eliminated saving $50 billion, and other tax credits too killed saving $43 billion. Medicaid would be cut by $150 billion, as would CHIP by $20 billion, by reducing eligibility (which would require repealing ObamaCare in part).

Coupled with the spending caps, that would result in more than $525 billion in immediate savings, balancing the budget by 2018 if not sooner.

Wilson said that as Republicans negotiate with the Obama Administration on the debt ceiling, their “proposal must include a path to a balanced budget some time during this decade… offering a clear alternative to simply borrowing and printing trillions of dollars until the nation is bankrupted.”

The American people understand that the situation is dire. They see S&P downgrading its outlook on U.S. debt from “stable” to “negative”, warning that a full credit downgrade is substantially more likely in the next two years. They see high inflation from government borrowing and printing too much money, and they feel the pinch. They know that action needs to be taken now.

They probably expect that Republicans would not get everything they asked for, but they want to at least see the effort made to balance the budget sometime soon. At least make it look good. Let Obama and Reid say no. Let them be the ones who insist on driving the nation off of a cliff.

And then let the American people choose among which approach they prefer.

Because the American people are not a flock of sheep whose energy is to be captured in a bottle for political ends ala the Tom Davis-Charlie Crist-Arlen Specter wing of the Republican Party, whose influence over the GOP’s agenda far exceeds anything their numbers justify.

The American people led Republicans back into power in 2010, and guess what? They can take it away. They have legitimate concerns over the debt crisis. These are real problems, and they demand real solutions — now, while there’s still time.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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