The leaders of the Republican party have been less than honest about balancing the budget. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) forced a vote on his “Pennies Plan” this week that would set the federal government on the path to balance, yet many establishment Republicans and every Senate Democrat chose to block it. Over the past two weeks, Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX), Thomas Massie (R-KY) and John Rose (R-TN) objected to a disaster relief bill in the House that Congress refused to offset with cuts to other spending programs. Swamp dwelling politicians love to spend borrowed money while they make believe to constituents that they care about balancing the federal budget.
Our nation is on the brink of insolvency. According to the Debt Clock, the national debt is over $22.3 trillion, while every U.S. citizen owes $67,910 in debt and each taxpayer is on the hook for $181,885. Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute sounded the alarm when he wrote on October 10, 2018, “annual budget deficits are projected to soon surpass $1 trillion, on their way to $2 trillion or even $3 trillion in 10 to 15 years. Social Security and Medicare face a combined $100 trillion cash deficit over the next 30 years, which would push the national debt to nearly 200% of the gross domestic product (GDP). At that point, interest on that debt would consume 40% of all tax revenues—or more, if interest rates rise. Unless reforms are enacted, global markets will, at some point, stop lending to the U.S. at plausible interest rates. When that event occurs, or even approaches, interest rates will soar, and the federal government will not be able to pay its bills, with dire consequences for the U.S. economy.” Our government is spending money they don’t have and the government spending bubble is eventually going to burst causing mass chaos and poverty for future generations of Americans.
This week, Senator Paul forced a vote on a budget resolution called the “Pennies Plan” that would “balance within five years” the federal budget. The plan “simply states that for every on-budget dollar the federal government spent in Fiscal Year 2019, it spend two pennies fewer a year (a cut of two percent per year) for the next five years (at which point balance is reached – without touching Social Security). In the following five years after it balances, the proposal would result in a $913 billion surplus.” Seems reasonable, yet only 22 Senators voted to allow debate. The Senators who supported debating the Paul plan should be lauded and include the following: Sens. Barrasso (R-WY); Blackburn (R-TN); Braun (R-IN); Cornyn (R-TX); Crapo (R-ID); Cruz (R-TX); Daines (R-MT); Ernst (R-IA); Fischer (R-NE); Grassley (R-IA); Isakson (R-GA); Kennedy (R-LA); Lankford (R-OK); Lee (R-UT); Paul (R-KY); Risch (R-ID); Romney (R-UT); Sasse (R-NE); Scott (R-SC); Shelby (R-AL); Tillis (R-NC); and, Toomey (R-PA). The ones who didn’t should be ashamed.
In the House, Reps. Roy, Massie and Rose engaged in a lonely fight to block a $19.1 billion-dollar supplemental spending bill that Congress refused to offset and tried to pass without a recorded vote. ABC News reported, “the House on Monday approved a long-anticipated $19 billion disaster relief package, 354-58, for areas of the Southeast and Midwest impacted by flooding and hurricanes, after a series of delays stalled the package following a Senate vote last week.” Representatives opposed this appropriations bill for a few different reasons, but the biggest issue for taxpayers is that they just spent another $19 billion they don’t have. It is not Congress’ cash to give away.
Congress has another big fight coming when the debt limit is expected to be raised, allowing the federal government to continue borrowing money. That will be another chance for Congress to impose some spending restraint, yet it is more likely that Congress will use that as another chance to leverage even more spending by coming to an agreement to get rid of spending caps on discretionary spending, known as “The Sequester” - the only remaining restraint on even more spending. The debt limit should be the place to have a bipartisan debate over how to restrain spending, but it will more likely be another missed opportunity for Washington to get spending under control.
Taxpayers should applaud the handful of members lead by Paul, Roy, Massie and Rose who are trying to fight the D.C. Swamp and impose some spending restraint on this Congress.