01.25.2013 1

Larry Kudlow’s split budget cut personality

By Rick Manning

Larry Kudlow needs to make up his mind.

One day he writes in the Daily Caller that if the Republicans don’t force deep spending cuts they will lose the House of Representatives in 2014, and in the very same piece he urges that those same Republicans not use the upcoming topping of the debt ceiling to force those very cuts.

In fact, Kudlow even went so far as to attack the one legislative measure that Republicans could pass, the “Full Faith and Credit Act,” which would ensure that the seniors, the military and our creditors get paid first in the event the debt ceiling is reached. It would provide a directive to the Obama Administration that these bills should be paid first — taking Obama’s threat of default off the table.

He worried, “The Bipartisan Policy Center projects that on March 1, the U.S. government will receive $20 billion in revenues to cover $84 billion in committed spending to obligations like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, military pay, and so forth and so on. Sure, we can cover the interest on the debt, which is only about $20 billion a month. But what about these other commitments?”

Of course, a little research reveals that in the event of the very kind of shortfall that he worries about, the debt ceiling would be lifted temporarily to meet the cash flow needs of the government on those spending priorities, as reported by CNNMoney.com.

The duality does not end there. As recently as Jan. 4, while Kudlow was interviewing newly sworn-in Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on the debt ceiling, the CNBC host opined that the “debt ceiling shouldn’t be automatic, there ought to be some discipline.”

And then, when Cruz advocated a partial shutdown specifically by not increasing the debt ceiling, Kudlow responded, “Yeah! We had a couple of them during the Reagan years. You’re absolutely right. It can be a very important bargaining tool. It can be a very important fiscal measure, and it can slow down spending.”


This dual-mindedness not only afflicts Larry Kudlow, but permeates virtually every thought process by supposed budget hawks in the Republican Party in Washington, D.C.

Need more evidence?  Just a few days after the Speaker set up a vote where a few northeastern House Republicans and appropriators could vote with virtually every House Democrat to expand the budget deficit by $17 billion by refusing to offset the costs of a small portion of the Hurricane Sandy pork-filled emergency relief bill, the same Speaker announced an intention to balance the budget within ten years.

Washington, D.C. Republicans know that it is political suicide to try to go home and explain to voters that they are the political party that failed to rein in government spending after being given one last chance to man up when they were given control in 2010.

They even know that the budget deficit is unsustainable, and after giving Obama his tax increases on the “wealthy” and everyone else, they need to get serious about cutting a federal government budget that is fully 30 percent larger today than it was a mere five years ago.

They know that since they took control in 2011, the national debt has risen by $2.4 trillion and counting.

Republicans in Congress know the problem, they know the destruction that not dramatically cutting the federal budget has already caused for the American people.  They know that the death spiral budget deficit has stifled job growth consigning the people to high joblessness and a general loss of hope that things will get better.

They might even know that running a national debt to gross domestic product ratio above 100 percent is viewed as a likely sign of eventual default by investment bankers, which inevitably leads to higher interest rates on the debt they create.  This destructive cycle of more debt and higher interest rates to borrow ensures that the budget cuts they avoid today will be devastating tomorrow as America is forced to pay bankers around the world rather than those who truly depend upon the social safety net.

While the Republicans know all of these things, so do the Democrats.

Democrats know that to beat a Republican in a general election in 2014, all a far left group needs to do is run this ad assisting the libertarian candidate in the race, “Incumbent Republican Bob Smith made a lot of promises four years ago.  He told us he was going to reign in the federal  government, reduce spending and balance the budget.  But in the first two years since Republican Smith went to Washington, the U.S. national debt has exploded by more than $2.4 trillion in his first two years alone.”

The hypothetical ad might continue, “Bob Smith came to D.C., and rather than change it, he became a part of it.  Now, he is asking for your trust again, that this time he means it.  In business if someone fails to deliver, you give them their walking papers.  After four years of failure, isn’t it time to give Republican Bob Smith his?”

This is not fancy.  Jon Tester is still the U.S. Senator in Montana because more than 6 percent of those voters chose to vote libertarian, most of whom likely would have supported former House member Denny Rehberg, changing the election results.

Trapped in this political box, where Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid know the Republicans will pay a far greater political price for an ever-increasing budget deficit than they will, the only solution is for Republicans to be bold.

And being bold means shutting down the government unless real cuts are made.

Being bold means accepting the sequester cuts, and trying to add to them, rather than allowing any changes to be made that increases the deficit.

Being bold means not worrying about the temporary ups and downs of Wall Street, but instead having the courage to refuse to continue authorizing federal government spending that ensures our nation stays on a glide path to extinction.

They need to say no to their friends like Larry Kudlow, who spout the need to cut the budget on one hand, but decry the political means to accomplish it on the other. Republicans in Congress need to use every tool at their disposal to win budget cuts if for no other reason their own personal political survival.

And they need to say no to their friends who feed off the trough of big government under the guise of pseudo-capitalism, and make cuts that impact the entire size and scope of government.

If they fight for fiscal sanity, win some real budget cuts and help put the nation on a path to fiscal solvency, they still risk losing power in the 2014 elections.  If they don’t, they virtually guarantee it, and sign a political death warrant for their own political party.

But more importantly than political consequences, they abandon our nation to walk the green mile as our nation’s greatness and economic might fades away.  The red, white and blue will drown in the red ink they did not have the courage to staunch.

It is time for congressional Republicans to either stand up, or get out of the way.  With Speaker Boehner now promising a balanced budget in 10 years, Kudlow is right about one thing, they have to deliver the spending cuts or else they might as well pack their bags and let someone come to D.C. who will at least try.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications at Americans for Limited Government.

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