I am in favor of not raising the debt ceiling unless the President and Democrats come up with meaningful spending cuts and reforms.
Contrary to a lot of the Democrats’ spin, the federal government will not default if the debt ceiling is not raised. Only if Little Timmy Geithner decides to not pay certain debts will the government default. It is his choice.
But I do think Republicans should be proactive in their approach to the debt ceiling. I think they should have a plan.
Specifically, I think the Republicans should propose a BRAC Commission for spending.
The BRAC Commission, or Base Realignment and Closure Commission, was created by Congress to close duplicative and unnecessary military installations around the country. Over the years, particularly after World War II, various congress critters had military installations put into their districts and states. The congress critters could not vote to close up their installations and would often cut deals with other congress critters. They would oppose closure of another’s base in exchange for that other voting in opposition too.
Congress has repeatedly shown that it will never make a tough decision if it can kick the can down the road or punt to someone else. Congress will not cut spending unless it can punt to an outside BRAC Commission.
I’d be in favor of SELASIC: Spending, Entitlement, Loophole, And SubsIdy Commission. Republicans must be willing to throw in some sacred cows in addition to spending. Those sacred cows should be tax loopholes and subsidies. In other words, this BRAC style commission would focus on spending cuts, entitlement reforms, tax loopholes, and government subsidies through direct payment or tax carve outs.
The ancillary benefit would be that, once tax loopholes and tax subsidy carve outs start being closed, Congress would be forced to reform the tax code to make it less complicated.
Structure SELASIC with an even number of retired Democrats and retired Republicans chosen by Congress and make Congress have to take or leave the proposals with no ability to amend them. Keep from the commission the ability to insist on tax increases or cuts, other than through closing loopholes and ending subsidies.
Republicans need a plan. BRAC is one of the most successful outside initiatives ever launched by Congress. It’s time to do it for spending, entitlement reform, tax loopholes, and subsidies. It is the only way Congress will ever actually begin dealing with these serious, critical issues.