I have troubling news. I'm very careful about criticizing my party's leaders, but what is happening in Washington right now cannot be ignored.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has abandoned the Cut-Cap-Balance Act and is now pushing a new plan that is nearly identical to the one proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
The Boehner-Reid plan gives the President an immediate increase in the debt limit and only promises to cut spending in the future. It violates all three principles of the Cut-Cap-Balance Pledge because it does not substantially cut current spending, it does not truly cap future spending, and it does not require the passage of a strong Balanced Budget Amendment before raising the debt limit.
In short, I oppose the Boehner-Reid plan because it won't balance the budget and stop the debt that is destroying our country.
The Boehner-Reid Plan
You will hear many claims about this plan over the next few days as it is pushed through the House and Senate. Some of these claims will be true, but many will be false. Here are the facts. The Boehner-Reid plan:
- Provides two increases in the debt limit -- $900 billion and $1.6 trillion -- totaling $2.5 trillion. It gives the President an immediate $900 billion increase given that Congress does not vote to disapprove it. It gives the President another $1.6 trillion increase next year if a bill written by a new Super Committee passes both houses and becomes law.
- Reduces spending by only $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. This amount won't even come close to balancing the budget, as the debt is expected to grow by as much as $10 trillion over the next decade. The plan also reduces spending by only $6 billion in 2012. Considering that our government currently spends $10 billion a day, $6 billion is far too little to cut over the first year of the plan.
- Calls for a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment but does not require its passage. Without passage of a strong Balanced Budget Amendment, Congress will never break its addiction to spending.
- Makes it virtually impossible to stop the debt limit from going up. The debt ceiling increases can only be stopped if Congress passes a resolution of disapproval and then votes to override the President's veto with two-thirds support in the House and Senate.
- Creates a new, 12-member Super Committee to write another "grand bargain" to reduce the deficit by at least $1.6 trillion. It does not, however, prohibit the Super Committee from writing a bill to raise taxes and destroy jobs. The bill can then be fast-tracked through the House and Senate with no amendments.
After reviewing the details of Boehner-Reid plan, I cannot support it.
- It won't balance the budget and stop the debt. Even if the cuts called for in the plan were real, the debt will still increase by $7 trillion over the next ten years.
- It won't protect our AAA bond rating. According to financial reports, this plan will not reduce long-term spending by enough to prevent a downgrade. If we lose our AAA rating, it will create higher interest rates and cause our debt to grow even faster.
- It will likely result in higher taxes that will destroy even more jobs. The unemployment rate is over 9 percent. We cannot afford to lose more jobs when so many Americans are struggling to find work.
The Way Forward
Fortunately, there is a much better solution.
The Cut-Cap-Balance Act would balance the budget, stop the debt, and protect our AAA bond rating. This legislation passed the House with bipartisan support but was blocked by Democrats in the Senate.
The votes in the Senate for Cut-Cap-Balance are there if Republicans stand firm. 23 Democrats in the Senate have expressed support for the Balanced Budget Amendment at some point in their careers. They're blocking it now because they believe Republicans will blink and agree to something much less.
And that's exactly what will happen if the Boehner-Reid plan is passed. It gives the big spenders in Washington everything they wanted -- an increase in the debt limit, phony spending cuts, and a mechanism to pass tax increases.
Please call your senators today and urge them to oppose the Boehner-Reid plan and to demand passage of the Cut, Cap, Balance Act.
United States Senator
Chairman, Senate Conservatives Fund