Forget the tax issue or the timetable for a moment; any proposed "spending cut" deal that fails to slash funding for discretionary spending and welfare programs to pre-Obama levels, as proposed in Paul Ryan's budget, is worthless. As Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL) tweeted earlier today, "debt "deals" that count on 10 years worth of spending cuts are the Mr Snuffleupagus of budget tricks. No one sees them except pols."
If House leaders fail to stand by their own budget, freshmen members like Ross might pose the following question: was the entire Republican majority of the 112th Congress a waste of time?
A record number of freshmen Republicans were swept into Congress to downsize government in general, and repeal/defund Obamacare in particular.
In April, Republicans had their first chance to fulfill their mandate by passing a continuing resolution for FY 2011 that slashed government and defunded Obamacare. As the clock ticked down to a government shutdown, GOP leaders retreated in fear. They forced the conference to pass a spending bill that maintained funding for Obamacare and only trimmed a paltry $352 million from the deficit, thereby abrogating their popular mandate from just five months before.
But we were told that the CR was not our fight, and that we should remain patient until we are presented with real opportunities; the debt ceiling fight and the Paul Ryan budget for FY 2012.
The Ryan budget, unlike the impending debt ceiling deal, more or less fulfills the mandate of the 2010 freshmen by defunding Obamacare and downsizing government to pre-Obama levels. This is not the RSC plan or a Tea Party plan; it is the plan of the entire conference, supported by leadership. Ever since the budget resolution was adopted on April 15, the House has worked diligently to carry out the budget blueprint and implement comprehensive cuts in every appropriations bill.
But what will come of all those cuts, including Obamacare, when the rubber meets the road in late September?
If GOP leaders could not expend their political capital and fulfill their mandate through the 2011 CR for fear of a gov't shutdown; if they will not hold the line with the debt limit on August 2 for fear of default, will they hold the line on the Ryan budget on September 30? Will they suddenly exhibit newfound courage in the face of a government shutdown, or was the entire Ryan budget just a charade? They certainly won't have more fortitude when we reach the next debt limit under this new "two-tiered debt ceiling plan."
When will the conservatives deliver on their promise to defund Obamacare?
An overwhelming majority of voters support repeal of Obamacare; 66% of adults support Cut, Cap, and Balance; 74% of adults support a balanced budget amendment. Throughout the debt negotiations, Obama has incurred record disapproval, while the GOP has made gains among the young and the poor – those most affected by Obama's pernicious policies.
If such resounding support is not enough for them to pull the trigger, they will never have the guts to engage in brinkmanship over the Ryan budget in September. There will be no other "bites at the apple" if Democrats know that Republicans will never force the issue.
The bottom line is that Democrats will never willingly sell out, and will go to the brink for their principles. If Republicans don't match their intransigence with a parallel degree of gumption, all of their promises will remain empty.
Those conservative freshmen will have nothing to show their constituents beyond a non-binding commission and unenforceable baseline spending cuts.
In order to preclude such disappointment, GOP leaders must hold the line on Cut, Cap, and Balance. Additionally, they should opt for a "two-tiered" approach by bringing the Full Faith and Credit Act to the House floor, along with CCB. This would force the Treasury to prioritize its payments to our soldiers and Social Security recipients. Consequently, any default that ensues would be Obama's prerogative.
To that end, our good freshmen won't find themselves pondering this depressing question: Is there any purpose of assuming power other than for its own sake?