Mike Needham

Debt ceiling negotiations are intensifying and the rhetoric is heating up. And President Obama’s insistence that we raise taxes to solve our spending problem has paralyzed the debate. It is clear that President Obama has neither the will nor the ideas to lead in this debate or lead this country.

If we continue down the path set forward by President Obama, we will be sentencing our children and grandchildren to permanent economic malaise while at the same time condemning this current generation to the same fate. Congress must step in and lead where he has failed.

Our challenges are well known. The federal government is spending money at breakneck speed with complete disregard to the consequences. Since 1970, federal spending has increased by 299% while the median household income has increased by just 27%. Government’s budget is growing far more rapidly - especially in the past decade - than household budgets. It’s simply not sustainable.

Regardless of whether or not Congress decides to raise our nation’s debt ceiling, spending must be brought under control. If Congress decides to use the debt ceiling as leverage to force change on unwilling liberals, they must: 1) significantly cut current spending; 2) restrict future spending; and 3) fix the budget process.

Currently, there is only one plan on the table that meets this test and that is the plan embodied in the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge. This is an example of a plan that matches the historical moment that we currently face as a nation.

Liberals fear any change that empowers individuals and frees America’s entrepreneurial spirit, and they will stop at nothing to obstruct our efforts to save the American dream for our children and grandchildren.

We’re seeing it already. President Obama and Democrats are afraid to put a real plan on the table. One Democrat source said laying their ideas on the table “could be a simply awful decision – and one with significant ramifications. If done wrong, it could hand the GOP a piñata for them to whack Democrats.” Their plan deserves to be whacked: increase spending to create jobs and raise taxes on the real job creators.

Of course, liberals thrive on uncertainty. Uncertainty allows government to fill a void, and occasionally it incites a panic that forces lawmakers to make bad decisions with your tax dollars. This uncertainty, though, is also one of the leading reasons employers are not hiring.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the President’s longest serving economic advisor, is inciting more uncertainty by his constant references to default. Congress can end the uncertainty. They can silence the hysteric rhetoric of default and economic “Armageddon” by exercising its constitutional power of the purse and prioritize federal spending.

As Heritage Foundation economist J.D. Foster, Ph.D. points out:

“Both immediately and long after it reaches the debt limit, the government would have far more than enough revenue coming in that the Secretary of the Treasury could use to pay interest on the debt. Nor would preserving the current debt limit put at risk the full faith and credit of the United States government, as the President’s chief economic adviser has claimed. The government would continue to pay net interest as it comes due.”

There is no reason to panic. And there is no reason to accept a bad deal that is riddled with half-measures, gimmicks, tax increases and defense cuts. Congress has time and options on the debt ceiling.

In the event that liberals will not allow us to raise the debt ceiling because they cannot stomach substantive, systemic changes to put the country back on sound footing, conservatives must develop a responsible plan. Congress must exercise their constitutional power of the purse, building upon the framework of the Toomey-McClintock legislation, and prioritize federal spending.

One thing is certain, we must reject Washington’s inclination to go behind closed doors and strike a grand bargain. Heritage Action, and the hundreds of thousands of Americans we represent, demand transparency and accountability. Americans must feel confident their Members of Congress understand what they are voting on. There must not be another “pass the bill so that we can find out what is in it” moment.

Our nation’s spending problem has grown so large it is impossible to ignore. It not only dominates Washington, but it is on the mind of the American people as they look toward the future. They see the riots in Greece, which was threatening to default on its debts, and they wonder if that is in store for America.

With strong leadership and a commitment to our children and grandchildren we can avoid that fate. We have the opportunity and obligation to change course. It is a challenge we must not fail.


Mike Needham

Mike Needham is the Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Action for America, a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to advancing legislation that promotes freedom, opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.


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