The Entire Premise Behind Debt Negotiations is a Farce
“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing.”
Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Taylor of Caroline, November 26, 1798
Obama and the Democrats have no intention to cut spending in any long-term, meaningful, and consequential way. To do so, they would need to abrogate the very essence of their being and the dependency state along with it. As such, they will never agree to cuts that will reduce the deficit. Period. As Congressman Louie Gohmert said, “quit believing the president.” So why does the GOP continue to parley with Obama in secret?
Some Republicans are impugning supporters of the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan for being suicidally intransigent. They charge that our insistence on a deal that Democrats will not support will lead to a stalemate and an eventual default, which will invariably hurt Republicans, of course. The problem with this rationale is that it overlooks the fact that Democrats will never support any meaningful shrinkage of their $3.7 trillion federal government behemoth. It’s not just a balanced budget amendment they oppose; they will vote down any authentic spending deal that cuts trillions – in real cuts.
The entire brouhaha over Obama’s willingness to cut $4 trillion over 10 years, so long as the GOP acquiesces to tax increases, is a fraud. Even if Republicans agree to massive tax increases tomorrow, Obama will never accede to a deal that substantially cuts, let alone eliminates, one major dependency program or government department (or even agency).
One need not be a trenchant political observer to understand that barring phony baseline projections and accounting gimmicks, you cannot cut trillions from government spending, unless you eliminate or seriously reform entitlement programs and major executive branch departments. Here is a lesson in budgets 101 for those who believe Obama is serious about cutting $4 trillion.
The following figures are estimated outlays for FY 2011 in billions. These are rough numbers compiled based on data from CBO. It’s hard to obtain exact numbers because Democrats were too incompetent to pass a budget when they had full control over government.
Discretionary Outlays:-$1.365 trillion- This includes both emergency and non-emergency appropriations for all of the government departments and agencies, excluding mandatory entitlement programs.
Commerce, Justice, Science -$65.223
Energy and Water -$44.632
Financial Services -$24.921
Homeland Security -$45.314
Interior and Related Agencies -$33.075
Labor, HHS, Education -$202.504
Legislative Branch -$4.562
State, Foreign Operations -$49.076
Transportation, HUD -$131.760
Total, Discretionary -$1.365 Trillion
Mandatory Outlays -$2.108 trillion (CRS report/June 15)
Here are some of the major components of mandatory outlays:
Social Security- $727
Net Medicare Spending-$492
Food Stamps- $77
Veteran’s income and retirement- $78
Net Interest on Debt- At least $205 billion
As you can see, there is no way that Democrats can come up with $400 billion in annual spending reductions that will represent real cuts, unless they go after defense spending and use the baseline from Obama’s profligate FY 2012 budget – a budget that was never enacted. They will not support free market reforms to Social Security and Medicare, cuts in Medicaid, welfare, or elimination of government agencies. They certainly won’t support repeal of the most pernicious budget buster and mother of all entitlements; Obamacare – the 800-pound gorilla that is not even accounted for in the aforementioned budgetary figures.
Additionally, Obama announced his support for another extension of the payroll tax cut; another year of unemployment benefits – on top of the 99 existing weeks of payments; and yes, another stimulus. He made this announcement during today’s press conference – the same forum in which he proposed “massive cuts.” When Jake Tapper asked him to name one specific cut he would support, Obama declined to answer. So how do we get to $4 trillion in cuts over 10 years? Or should I not ask?
Everyone knows that had the GOP not assumed control over the House, Democrats would have blithely raised the debt ceiling without any spending cuts. While they are now forced to play the game of cutting spending, why would any Republican believe that they will agree to any perennial downsizing of government? Haven’t they learned their lesson from the grand bargain over the 2011 continuing budget resolution?
Last April, Republicans agreed to a Continuing Resolution for FY 2011 that supposedly cut $60 billion from this year’s budget. Much to our consternation, the CBO reported that the deal only cut $352 million from the deficit. Later on, Obama was caught on an open mic bragging how he ate their lunch.
The bottom line is that the debt ceiling cannot be raised unless it is clear that this will be the last time we do it. The only way to ensure that we don’t continue to make a mockery out of the debt limit is by passing a balanced budget amendment. Otherwise, in January 2013, we will be at the same juncture – with a second term of President Obama.
As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me, or in the case of the debt ceiling; 74 times.
Republicans were elected to accomplish two things; defund Obamacare and reduce the size and scope of government. They kicked the can down the rode in April during the 2011 budget fight. This is the time to call Obama’s bluff.