Con­ser­va­tives’ spend­ing pledge

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

House and Se­nate con­ser­va­tives ral­lied on June 22 around a pledge to vote against any debt-ceil­ing in­crease that fails to in­clude en­force­able re­duc­tions in the size of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. The “Cut, Cap, Bal­ance” pledge to put Un­cle Sam on a diet in­cludes cuts in out­lays, caps on fu­ture spend­ing au­thor­ity and pas­sage of a bal­anced-bud­get amend­ment that would limit tax­ing and spend­ing.

The first day’s ef­fort was en­cour­ag­ing. Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Repub­li­can, has 10 col­leagues on board. He’ll need an­other 30 to block a bad deal. “Let’s see Democrats and Pres­i­dent Obama try and ex­plain that they want to shut down gov­ern­ment be­cause they re- fuse to bal­ance our bud­get,” Mr. DeMint told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “The Amer­i­can peo­ple won’t stand for it. Now is the time to fight.”

The House con­ser­va­tives’ Repub­li­can Study Com­mit­tee (RSC) came up with Cut, Cap, Bal­ance to re­strict spend­ing at 18 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. Rep. Jim Jor­dan, the RSC chair­man, told The Wash­ing­ton Times that his group “put the ball on the field” and “with this pledge, con­ser­va­tives in the House, Se­nate and all across the coun­try have now picked it up and be­gun to run with it.” There are 42 grass-roots groups co­or­di­nat­ing ef­forts to pro­mote the is­sue around the coun­try, in­clud­ing Club for Growth, Free­domWorks, Tea Party Ex­press and Let Free­dom Ring.

Many in­side and out­side the Belt­way are skep­ti­cal of closed-door lead­er­ship ne­go­ti­a­tions af­ter be­ing let down by April’s con­tin­u­ing res­o­lu­tion in which a promised $100 bil­lion in cuts ul­ti­mately failed to yield any real sav­ings. Ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice, this year’s spend­ing is al­ready $132 bil­lion higher than last year’s.

They also lack faith in politi­cians stick­ing to spend­ing caps be­yond the next elec­tion, which is why the pledge seeks to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion. “We agree we need im­me­di­ate spend­ing cuts, caps and en­ti­tle­ment re­form, but that’s ex­actly what Wash­ing­ton did in the ’90s when we were $5 tril­lion in debt,” Mr. Jor­dan told The Wash­ing­ton Times. “Now Gramm-Rud­man is ig­nored, the en­ti­tle­ment re­forms never ma­te­ri­al­ized, and debt has ex­ploded to over $14 tril­lion. Amer­i­cans won’t be fooled again; they know none of these grand prom­ises will ever hap­pen un­less we force Wash­ing­ton to do it with a bal­anced-bud­get amend­ment.”

For the Cut, Cap, Bal­ance pledge to work, more mem­bers will have to sign on to it in the next cou­ple of weeks. With a big push from the Tea Party and re­lated groups, that could hap­pen. Amer­i­cans sent an un­mis­tak­able mes­sage in Novem­ber that busi­ness as usual was over. The debt-limit deal is the last op­por­tu­nity this year for Repub­li­can lead­ers in­side the Belt­way to prove they’re se­ri­ous about shrink­ing our out-of-con­trol fed­eral leviathan.

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