GOP can cut spending without delaying debt ceiling

As I write, President Obama is about to announce the gun-control proposals his administration has been drafting since the Sandy Hook school massacre (although some of them almost certainly were on his wish list before he ever entered the White House). We’ll discuss that here after they’ve been made official and we’ve had time to digest them.

In the meantime, and of a more time-sensitive nature, we march on toward next month’s trio of fiscal deadlines: the expiration of temporary funding measures for the federal government, the end of a two-month delay in the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, and the end of the administration’s authority to borrow more money.

That last issue, popularly known as the debt ceiling, has drawn the most attention, with Democrats accusing the GOP of holding the economy hostage by insisting on spending cuts if they are to raise the ceiling. We’ve seen this movie before, in the summer of 2011. It didn’t end all that well.

It did, however, provide House Republicans with the only real leverage they have in these matters. Not raising the debt ceiling is not a real option, certainly not for any substantial length of time. And there is no reason for them even to consider not raising it. Sequestration is all they need.

Obama and congressional Democrats say the debt ceiling is about paying the nation’s bills. And while that’s overgeneralized — and not the same tune they sung when it was a Republican president asking for more borrowing authority — there’s a great deal of truth to it. For any substantial length of time in the near future, Congress cannot make good on its promises to lenders, vendors and citizens without borrowing more money.

But it can avoid running up so many new bills. Which brings me to sequestration.

The cuts in the sequester, negotiated as part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling in August 2011, total about $1.2 trillion over 10 years. As Speaker John Boehner noted in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Democrats have always assumed the GOP would back out on the deal because of the defense cuts included. But more and more, it appears Republicans are willing to bite that bullet if it’s the only way they can get real spending cuts.

If so, the calculus changes completely. All the House GOP has to do is announce that a “clean” increase in the debt ceiling, the no-strings-attached approach on which Obama insists, will mean the sequester goes forward as planned. If Obama can’t live with that, the GOP can make clear they’d be happy to negotiate changes to the sequester in tandem with the debt ceiling.

The economy isn’t at risk due to the debt ceiling, then — unless it’s the president doing the hostage-taking by refusing to go along with the cuts he agreed to make a year and a half ago.

Oh, and tax increases as a substitute for sequester cuts are off the table. We got tax increases in the Jan. 1 fiscal-cliff deal.

This approach doesn’t address the long-term fiscal problems the nation faces. Fortunately, the expiration of the latest “continuing resolution” funding the government provides an opportunity to do that. The debt ceiling doesn’t have to figure into these negotiations.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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106 comments Add your comment

saywhat?

January 16th, 2013
12:12 pm

saywhat?

January 16th, 2013
12:16 pm

I doubt many Republicans would go along with the sequester if it meant defense cuts in their state/district. Its only then that they turn all Keynesian and suddenly realize that government spending does indeed create jobs.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

January 16th, 2013
12:17 pm

The Republicans will cave in and cower in fear. Dey only wants people to likes them.

Our only hope – Third Party.

Kyle Wingfield

January 16th, 2013
12:17 pm

saywhat? @ 12:16: The sequester is the law. The question is whether a majority of each chamber in Congress would vote to overturn it.

MarkV

January 16th, 2013
12:27 pm

Kyle: “Oh, and tax increases as a substitute for sequester cuts are off the table. We got tax increases in the Jan. 1 fiscal-cliff deal.”

And who has decreed that? What is the logical or legal principle for that? Does that then mean that if the Congress approves some spending cuts, there cannot be any more spending cuts, in another negotiation?

saywhat?

January 16th, 2013
12:34 pm

Kyle, I realize that. If they do nothing, the cuts they passed last year will happen. Neither Republicans nor Democrats, in general, want the cuts to happen the way they are scheduled. Republicans want to avoid the defense cuts, and Democrats want to avoid social spending cuts.

Economic opinion I have read generally theorizes that the cuts as they currently stand would be bad for the economy because of the money and jobs they would remove from a fragile, still recovering economy. (10 years ago would have been a much better time to do this.)

My point is that I doubt Republicans would carry through with your plan because of the damage such cuts would do to their own defense contractor constituents.

beta

January 16th, 2013
12:34 pm

“and the end of the administration’s authority to borrow more money.”

It is the USA government that is borrowing money, not the administration (which I’m pretty sure is code for President Obama).

Do you really believe the house GOP will go along with across the board cuts to Military and Defence spending? If they want to change what is cut by line item, it is not a simple continuation of the spending resolution for the purpose of negotiation, it’s a new bill, right? What are the odds of the GOP getting an agreement to in their own ranks to even put forward a new bill for consideration before the debt ceiling is reached? Many of the Democrats are for reducing Defence spending (so am I). Wouldn’t the GOP by enforcing sequestration, be making that easier?

middle of the road

January 16th, 2013
12:34 pm

Dang, Kyle, you are beginning to make a lot of sense. I agree that the debt ceiling is more about paying for spending you have already approved. It can also be the “gun to the head” to try to force spending cuts. As for the sequester – I am all for it – let’s cut some out of all the main budget items, including defense. It is only about 120 billion a year anyway, so it does not do away with the deficit by a long shot.

The GOP could pass a budget tomorrow in the House – they have the votes to make it. But then they have to send it to the Senate, where Democrats control. So they must COMPROMISE to get it through the Senate. If the House and Senate pass the bill and the President refuses to sign it, he does so at his own peril. House and Senate could try an override. The point is that the House had better not send the Senate a budget that the American people see as rediculous – huge cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security while protecting lucrative Defense spending. I believe you would hear howls of protest carrying on through the next Congressional election.

It is time the “leaders” started to govern – by coming to a COMPROMISE solution. Or is that asking too much of Congress?

@@

January 16th, 2013
12:42 pm

Liberals can thank the Tea Party if the GOP is willing to cut defense. With the Tea Party, there are no sacred cows.

Defense spending falls in behind entitlements.

Tax Reform is paramount when it comes to breaking the ties that bind.

Cuts to entitlements, defense spending, and then…..tax reform. Give us all ‘ya got.

Kyle Wingfield

January 16th, 2013
12:52 pm

MarkV @ 12:27: I’m saying that’s part of what the House GOP should say regarding the sequester and the debt ceiling.

Don't Tread

January 16th, 2013
12:53 pm

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills. … I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” – Senator 0bama

“Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize us to spend more. All it does is say that America will pay its bills, and we are not a deadbeat nation…They can act responsibly and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.” – President 0bama

It’s funny how the times change, isn’t it? :roll:

Kyle Wingfield

January 16th, 2013
12:55 pm

beta @ 12:34: Yes, it is the government broadly speaking that is borrowing the money, but the debt ceiling is about authority to borrow more money — and it is the administration that requests that authority from Congress.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 16th, 2013
12:59 pm

The existing sequester is just a good first baby step. Real Americans want much more in spending cuts.

Time for the “balance”, progs!

Cutty

January 16th, 2013
1:20 pm

‘You are only as good as the company you keep.’

I’ll leave Kyle to his merry band of brothers and sister. Aesop, Lil Barry, @@, iReport and the like. You all deserve each other.

Metro Coach

January 16th, 2013
1:22 pm

The gov’t takes in enough revenue to continue servicing the debt we have even without a debt ceiling increase. Why shouldn’t Reps say no to a debt ceiling increase and tell the gov’t to cut enough spending to make debt payments within the current revenue stream? I know they won’t because Boehner is a RINO and a coward, but maybe his wife would let him borrow his jewels long enough to take a tough stand for once in his perma tanned life.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

January 16th, 2013
1:23 pm

Screen door, meet Cutty.

curious

January 16th, 2013
1:37 pm

The debt ceiling hits before sequestration, so Congress needs to raise the debt ceiling with the CLEAR understanding that sequestration will happen.

Don’t get trampled by the lobbyists.

curious

January 16th, 2013
1:41 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout – OBAMAPHONE!!!
“The existing sequester is just a good first baby step. Real Americans want much more in spending cuts.Time for the “balance”, progs!”

You’re right except every group, liberal and conservative, will fight to make the other side pay. Right now, neither wants to compromise.

sailfish

January 16th, 2013
1:41 pm

kyle
Seems sensible enough to me, thats what we’re all looking for some common sense. Cons are quite mistaken that dems don’t want to cut anything, it’s just that most believe that social security cuts should be completely off the table. As far as medicare and medicaid, those programs need to be brought into line

Just Saying..

January 16th, 2013
1:46 pm

All for it, Kyle. Both sides agreed to the meat axe, let it fall. I know the Democrat wails on social expenditures will be heart rending. But in all honesty, I’d think ‘Pub DOD partners would cause that side to flinch first. But if they don’t, more power – and credit – to them.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

January 16th, 2013
1:50 pm

(although some of them almost certainly were on his wish list before he ever entered the White House

Proof? Oh, it’s an opinion.

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 16th, 2013
1:54 pm

Kyle, good suggestion, I wish the GOP would heed your advice, or more importantly had some people in charge that could get in front of a crisis and manage the PR campaign to reshape public opinion. Hard to do that with the media shilling for Barry, but someone needs to come up with something to change the current dynamic. Using this debt ceiling to shut down government is going to be ugly for the GOP, as the low information voters are going to buy the Obama lies that it is all the GOP fault.

I think the GOP should hold a press conference, backed up with young children wearing signs that say “I already owe $60,000, please stop the spending”. We have got to start emphasizing the generational theft of trying to have everything under the sun today, and pass all our debts onto our children and grandchildren. Government long ago lost touch with what Government is supposed to do. We started trying to humanly help the poor, by providing food and shelter, somehow we wound up, providing cell phones, medical insurance, rides to work, internet access, and now they want birth control provided free. We will never raise enough revenue to keep up with expanding expenditures, gotta stop a some point and say this is enough.

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 16th, 2013
2:04 pm

saywhat, you were probably right about the sequester cuts slowing the economy, but that was before Obama worked his magic, maybe that was his plan all along), and became the worlds most successful gun salesman. Maybe the gun sales will kick start the economy, hah!!

SBinF

January 16th, 2013
2:06 pm

“although some of them almost certainly were on his wish list before he ever entered the White House”

Kyle, you are freaking brilliant. Obama had these recommendations in his back pocket, and he was simply waiting for 26 people to be massacred in an elementary school so he could swoop in and take away yer guns! It was all just a waiting game.

Good heavens, and conservatives wonder why they’ve been losing the messaging war the last year.

BW

January 16th, 2013
2:14 pm

Kyle

Interesting that you phrase it as tax cuts being off the table for the sequester….do I take that to mean that tax revenue is important long term to balancing the budget? Thank you for saying that there is no actual need to shut down government over this….simply pass a bill that accomplishes what the long term non bumper sticker vision and throw the ball back to the Senate Dems….no need to invoke the President’s name without bills to address the concerns….you know….what the legislative branch is supposed to do

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 16th, 2013
2:19 pm

Proof? Oh, it’s an opinion.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/obamas-anti-gun-bias-traces-back-decades/

Finn, an opinion based on prior actions. You probably thought he was against same sex marriage until late 2012, also. Koolaid must be fattening in the quantity you ingest it.

Jefferson

January 16th, 2013
2:21 pm

Sounds good but will the lobbyists allow it, as they own the weak spined congress. When they close Robins or Dobbins, who will get the blame ? The incumbents ?

Jefferson

January 16th, 2013
2:24 pm

Taxes will be increasing so get used to it, they have to.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

January 16th, 2013
2:31 pm

“Obama had these recommendations in his back pocket, and he was simply waiting for 26 people to be massacred in an elementary school so he could swoop in and take away yer guns!”

Never let a good crisis go to waste, SBinF.

sailfish

January 16th, 2013
2:31 pm

You guys are nutz….obama is going to take away your guns….right…not paying our debts is a strategy? Please, try to jump into the real world instead of your perpetual con fantasy camp!

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

January 16th, 2013
2:32 pm

“Taxes will be increasing so get used to it, they have to.”

If we have to get used to taxes increasing, why can’t YOU get used to spending being cut?

Politico

January 16th, 2013
2:32 pm

Rafe

Can’t speak for the article you listed, but difficult to take World Net Daily too seriously. They were and maybe still are the unofficial home of the “birthers”.

They run some, let’s say, less then truthful and unsubstantiated articles regarding the “birther” issue.

________________________________________________

Kyle

Think you are making the spending cut issue a little more easy then it is going to be. It isn’t just the Democrats who have their “sacred cows” when it comes to spending.

I do think that they will strike some sort of deal.

Feel free to look them up.

Kyle Wingfield

January 16th, 2013
2:37 pm

BW @ 2:14: “Interesting that you phrase it as tax cuts being off the table for the sequester”

What I actually wrote: “Oh, and tax increases as a substitute for sequester cuts are off the table.”

Unless I’m mistaken, cuts are not increases. But then, as far as I know, no one is even proposing tax cuts right now.

As for a shutdown, I think that may be a viable option if the various parties can’t agree on a budget for the rest of FY13 and all of FY14. We’ve been operating on the short-term CR model for far too long now.

Cherokee

January 16th, 2013
2:38 pm

“Real Americans want much more in spending cuts.”

No they don’t.

You, like every other con commenting here, refuse to advocate specific spending cuts that would end the deficit. Until you can develop specific spending cuts that would win the backing of the majority of Americans, and make a real difference in the debt, you’re just spitting in the wind.

Politico

January 16th, 2013
2:40 pm

*Feel free to look them up.

Should have been after my comments to Rafe, not the comment to Kyle.

Junior Samples

January 16th, 2013
2:41 pm

What tune were the Republicans singing when they borrowed all the money for the two wars? Without question?
Oh, but now they’re singing about fiscal responsibility. Got it…

Kyle Wingfield

January 16th, 2013
2:41 pm

Politico @ 2:32: Is ABC News a solid enough source for you?

JDW

January 16th, 2013
2:41 pm

First off the debt ceiling increase is to pay the bills for spending already authorized by the last Congress. To give you a rough analogy its like calling your credit card company after you ran up the balance and telling them you decided not to pay the bill…then calling your power company and telling them that you have a debt a limit so they will have to wait until you have more money. You end up with no power and no credit. While it would be the dumbest move in the history of modern politics it is hard to put anything past the Wingnuts in the House.

Second, by all means let the Sequester go forward as planned…while you are at it go back and undo that last tax cut extension. Of course that won’t happen because the Republicans are all bluster. They don’t really want to cut anything except taxes. They just want to rant, rave, get re-elected and scratch their heads when they figure out that when you cut taxes (revenue) and increase spending you get deficits (see 2000-2008)

SBinF

January 16th, 2013
2:44 pm

“What tune were the Republicans singing when they borrowed all the money for the two wars? Without question?
Oh, but now they’re singing about fiscal responsibility. Got it…”

Fiscal responsibility only matters when a Kenyan Muslim is in office. Didn’t you get the memo?

Kyle Wingfield

January 16th, 2013
2:46 pm

Junior @ 2:41: The deficit has been larger in each of the past four years than from either 2002-2005 combined or 2005-2008 combined. So, while those years did not represent ideal fiscal management by any means, they pale in comparison to our more recent history.

sailfish

January 16th, 2013
2:46 pm

Funny how these issues get all twisted up by repubs…..seriously, do you really think obama is out to confiscate all your guns rafe? The paranoia by the extreme right wing gun fanatics should be tossed out with a grain of salt, it’s pure baloney!

Politico

January 16th, 2013
2:49 pm

Kyle

Thanks for stepping in to assist Rafe, however your article and his are not one in the same.

I know what was said today and proposed by the President and I have not commented on what I agree with or do not agree with in regards to his proposals.

Again, WND is “birther central”. If you like that site and the black helicopter theories they espouse, that is certainly your choice. I have been to their website before, so I know that to be true, however I will not give them any “hits” by going to their site any longer. Haven’t done so for sometime. Don’t go to Huffington Post either.

sailfish

January 16th, 2013
2:49 pm

kyle @2:46

You too? What about tarp, is that obama or bush? The stimulus and ongoing wars is all you can really tag obama with and he didn’t start said wars and put them on the books. Please, look at these deficits with a pound of logic instead of the propaganda!

SBinF

January 16th, 2013
2:49 pm

So where is the threshold, Kyle? At what point did the GOP decide that the deficit was too big. What was the specific dollar value?

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 16th, 2013
2:55 pm

Politico, WND was just the first link I found. The stories of him as an Illinois senator voting to ban homeowners rights to self defense have been reported elsewhere as well. Media everywhere slants their articles to favor their position, however, I don’t know any who lie about how one voted or who they represented in a law suit, etc. The facts are usually true, the message they try to convey may be stilted. CNN does it all the time, when they have 15 pro gun people discussing gun control and one pro Second person respond.

It is unfortunately what we have come to expect from the media today, slanted stories.

Junior Samples

January 16th, 2013
2:59 pm

Correct Kyle,
Because during that time, the Republicans also brought on the tax cuts, and simply gave away the rest of the surplus, then closed their eyes as we spun into the recession.
Once again, fiscal responsibility.

So now we have a Democrat President who’s trying to fix everything the Republican President broke. So if you want to call that a spending problem, so be it. We’re not fooled. Neither was the majority of Americans.

sailfish

January 16th, 2013
3:01 pm

rafe

As someone who has served in the military, and owns no guns, I acknowledge that if there are over 300 million guns out there, no gov’t on earth could even come close to the level of confiscation that you and all these right wing wankers are whining about.

BW

January 16th, 2013
3:02 pm

Kyle

I should have used your exact language but the question still stands….is higher tax revenue off the table as a way to balance the budget longterm?

As for the shutdown, while I agree that short term CRs are ridiculous, I’m not sure that the Republicans would be rewarded at the ballot box for doing so especially without legislation…which I’m assuming that you mean it will be Democrats fault that there is no budget if such a scenario came to pass.

Cheesy Grits is gone but not forgotten

January 16th, 2013
3:05 pm

Ronald Reagan tripled the National Debt

Clinton handed W Bush a surplus and he blew it in about 17 days.

We have been lowering taxes for the wealthy for the last 50 years.

It hasn’t worked. Nothing trickled.

All we got for it was a bunch of debt.

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

January 16th, 2013
3:07 pm