With a debt vote taking place in the House of Representatives later today, the debate over America’s unsustainable $14 trillion national debt is sure to intensify. The clean debt vote – a straight up or down vote on whether to raise the debt ceiling without any spending cuts, as President Obama called for at first – is more of a symbolic vote and will fail in the House. The clean debt vote is meant to send a clear message to President Obama and Democrats in Congress that the status quo is not working for America.
The Obama Administration says it would be irresponsible not to raise the debt ceiling; we say it would be irresponsible to raise the ceiling without offsetting cuts of the same amount. Congress has raised the debt ceiling 98 times since 1940, without cutting back on any spending. The clean debt vote will lay down a very telling marker that the 99th raising of the debt ceiling will not follow the model of years past.
In millions of homes across the country, families sit around the kitchen table and work on a budget that will not break the bank. Washington needs to follow what American families are doing each and every day. The American people have spoken: this time there will be no debt ceiling increase without substantial cuts and reforms.
Last week, Citizens United endorsed a bold plan by Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) that will finally stop the fiscal suicide that is being committed in Washington. The “Returning to Responsible Fiscal Policies Act” would limit federal spending to 18 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The net effect of limiting government spending to 18 percent of GDP will help rein in our paralyzing debt.
By 2016, when the Kingston plan is fully implemented, Congress will no longer be able to look the other way when it comes to the national debt. The legislation calls for the Office of Management and Budget to cut the federal budget across the board, including entitlements and defense programs, if Congress cannot stay under the 18 percent threshold.
The Kingston plan calls for three categories for the cuts to take place – direct, non-security discretionary, and security-related discretionary spending. To give the legislation even more teeth, emergency spending would be restricted severely. This part of the legislation will close a very big fiscal loophole. Emergency bills are not subject to regular budget rules; the spending adds to the debt but isn’t counted against the deficit. For years, both Democrats and Republicans have taken advantage by adding billions of dollars in pork projects to must-pass emergency supplementals. Kingston’s legislation will finally end that Congressional boondoggle. The only way to wave this requirement would be by a two-thirds super majority vote in both houses of Congress. That way, it would take a true emergency to break the 18 percent statute.
In 2006, then-Senator Barack Obama said that raising the debt ceiling was a “sign of leadership failure.” When the House of Representatives votes tonight, the national debt will be nearly 75 percent higher than when President Obama said those words as a United States Senator. President Obama has not led when it comes to our national debt. The irresponsible policies that the Obama Administration has instituted over the past two-and-a-half-years have hastened our descent into bankruptcy and put the fiscal well-being of future generations of Americans in jeopardy. The madness needs to stop, and real fiscal reforms must be allowed to take place. America must make the painful cuts necessary or we will become a second rate power. Now is the time to lead, Mr. President.