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No Debt Limit Expansion Without Spending Cuts!

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Every Republican member of Congress should sign the following pledge, being promulgated by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform:

"I promise not to vote for any expansion of the federal debt limit unless it is preceded or accompanied by significant cuts in federal spending."


We all know that the reason the federal government debt is exploding is the reckless spending policies of the Obama administration. From the time George Washington took the oath of office to the time Barack Obama did, Washington borrowed $9 trillion. Since Obama took office, two years ago, we have borrowed almost $5 trillion more!

Domestic discretionary spending (non-defense) has risen by an astonishing 41 percent in two years!!! Welfare spending, primarily Medicaid, has gone up by 54 percent in two years!!!! We must roll back these increases. (It is not increases in Social Security -- 14 percent -- or Medicare --16 percent that are the problem).

Obama will never allow spending cuts unless they are jammed down his throat, and his need for an expansion of his borrowing authority are the key chance to do so.

House Speaker John Boehner sounded an ominous note of possible capitulation even before the first shot was fired when he said: "We're going to have to deal with it (raising the debt limit) as adults. Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations, and we have obligations on our part."

Obligations? Sure. But don't we also have the obligation to stop the crazy spending even as we allow the debt limit to rise to pay for the spending that is already underway? Is this not the perfect time to demand spending restraint?


The American people will strongly support the spending restrictions as a precondition for raising the debt limit. Most don't want the limit raised at all. But almost everyone will see the wisdom of cutting the spending as we raise the debt limit.

Obama will resist and, if he vetoes the spending cuts, he -- not the Republican House -- will bear the onus for the ensuing government default. And he will blink just like he did over extending the George W. Bush tax cuts.

What spending cuts? Nothing complicated. The most important one is to roll back domestic discretionary spending to pre-Obama levels -- 2008 levels -- and freeze it there for three years. This step would cut the deficit by over $100 billion for each of the next three years (and, if we take the step now, for this year, as well). Let the federal agencies figure out what to cut. But force them to make these cuts.

We all lived pretty well in 2008 before the 41 percent hike in domestic discretionary spending (on things like transportation, Congress, EPA, Justice, Education, Energy, etc). Let's go back to those days and erase the legacy of the Obama stimulus package.

And we should also take two other steps:


-- Transform Medicaid into a block grant to the states, giving them the flexibility to spend it as they wish. Roll Medicaid back to 2008 levels, and include a modest annual inflator for increasing costs of about 3 percent.

-- And, we should only increase the debt limit by $500 billion (about three months' worth) so as to keep Obama on a short leash and make him keep coming back for more while we add restrictions and new cuts each time.

Republicans need to be smart to leverage their one-house control into real accomplishments, and there is no better place to start than with the debt limit vote next month.

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