FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The GOP Waterloo
The time for equivocation over defunding Obamacare is over. The time for recalcitrance to fulfill the budgetary is long overdue. Now is the time for action.
Over the past two years, we’ve heard a variety of excuses in defense of Republicans for failing to cut spending in any consequential way. Well, come March 1 those excuses are obsolete. The sequester is something that Republicans agreed to implement back in 2011. It is also something that will go into effect as long as Republicans do absolutely nothing. The fact that they only control one-third of government will be no excuse for them to abrogate their promise.
As part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, the 10-year sequestration, which would cut all discretionary accounts across-the board, is slated to take effect on March 1. The sequester will cut roughly $1 trillion in mainly discretionary spending, with 50 percent of the cuts coming from Defense, even though it only comprises 20 percent of the federal budget. It is important to remember that a good amount of these cuts are only baseline cuts, especially on the non-defense side. For 2013, the sequester was originally going to be $109 billion, but due to the cancellation of the first two months, the cuts will total $85 billion.
While all conservatives agree that there is clearly some waste in defense, random across-the-board cuts are unwise. That’s why conservatives felt that the entire debt ceiling deal was preposterous. We gave Obama a free $2.1 trillion recharge of the national credit card in exchange for nothing but military cuts. Nevertheless, these are the only cuts we will ever make permanent. Conservatives did not support this plan, but we will not allow Obama and the Democrats to use it as a leverage point to force through more tax hikes or eliminate the non-defense part of the sequester. Republicans need to stick together and let the sequester go into effect. Obama is already feeling the pressure from the united Republican stance.
Several weeks ago, Congress voted to suspend the debt ceiling for 4 additional months in exchange for no spending cuts. Many grassroots conservatives were surprised and dismayed that most conservative members of Congress went along with the plan. The reason those conservatives agreed to fall on their sword is because leadership guaranteed them two things in exchange for their support. 1) They would stand strong on the sequester and 2) they would pass a budget for FY 2014 that balances in 10 years.
If GOP leaders are serious about keeping their promise, they must reject plans by John McCain and Lindsey Graham to offer any replacement to the sequester. That will only play into Obama’s hands and obviate any leverage we might gain from standing firm. We must also quash any effort to tinker with the sequester in the continuing resolution. As it stands now, the sequester will take effect on March 1. That is free for us. We get that by simply doing nothing. Why use the CR to get something that we already own? The CR, which is set to expire on March 27 must be about fighting Obamacare.
There is no doubt that John Boehner and Paul Ryan will push through a 10-year balanced budget for FY 2014. But it is meaningless if they fail to finally make good on their promise to defund Obamacare. It’s time for us to confront the reality that there is no entitlement reform without quashing Obamacare. There will be no balanced budget as long as Obamacare is still on the books. If you are one who feels that Obamacare is here to stay as a result of the elections, then stop talking about entitlement reform and balanced budgets. None of that will happen once the Obamacare ship sets sail next year.
Last year, 127 members of the House signed a letter pledging to oppose any appropriation bill that contains funding for Obamacare. 105 of those members are still in the House (download here). The full copy of the letter can be viewed here. After much delay, the March 27 CR is the last opportunity to fulfill that promise.
The path to balance is very simple. Republicans must stop talking about tweaking the sequester, and let it take effect immediately. The CR fight must be reserved for defunding Obamacare. The time for kicking the can down the road until “the next fight” is over. Open enrollment for the Obamacare exchanges begins in October. If we don’t preclude the motherload of all dependency programs from taking root, any discussion of balanced budgets or entitlement reform is nothing more than hollow rhetoric.
If members are too scared to pocket the automatic cuts that are already in the bag, and disrupt implementation of the worst government program, there are plenty of people who would be more than happy to take their places in Congress. Candidate recruitment is already beginning in earnest. It will undoubtedly accelerate after March 27.