Last week, Politico profiled freshman Congressman Tom Cotton (R-AR) to give their readers a sneak peak at “the ‘hell no’ caucus.” According to the reporters, the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran who holds a pair of Harvard degrees is “neither a hick, nor a blowhard.” However, they said, “To much of the country, Cotton is nothing more than a straight, Southern, white, male, ‘radical’ conservative — a befuddling relic of a fading slice of politics.”
Yes, that actually appeared in print; and, it is a caricature the elite media in Washington and New York City are all too willing to blindly adopt. Cotton and others are placed in the “hell no” caucus not because of their lack of ideas, but because they are unwilling to play Washington’s cynical, self-enriching, taxpayer-financed game.
Though not exclusive to Washington, one of the most prevalent games is overpromising with the understanding you will under-deliver.
Just look at President Obama’s nominee to become our nation’s next Treasury Secretary. In 2011, Jack Lew told America the Obama administration’s “budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we're not adding to the debt anymore; we're spending money that we have each year."
Later that year, President Obama fought for and won a $2.1 trillion increase in our nation’s credit limit. 518 days later, outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress – and the taxpayers – that America once again hit its statutory credit limit.
Properly understood, our nation’s debt ceiling serves as an alarm. Until recently, lawmakers have hit a bipartisan snooze button with the empty promise to address our rapidly accumulating debt. As then-Senator Obama explained in 2006, this represented a “failure of leadership.” Washington, he added, could not continue “shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren.”
Now that congressional Republicans finally agree, President Obama’s response is “hell no.”
On New Year’s Day, he promised, “I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed.” Yet by his own assertion seven years earlier, hitting the nation’s debt limit is "a sign that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills."