House Speaker John Boehner is falling for a trap, hook, line, and sinker — and the Republican presidential nominee will reap the results of Boehner’s folly. The single biggest issue facing America is the inability of the federal government to pay its bills. The deficit for the month of February was $222.5 billion dollars. That is a record $7.9 billion a day. And how does John Boehner respond?
First Boehner makes it clear he wants Republicans to raise the debt ceiling. Then he strong arms Republican members of Congress to pass a continuing resolution because he fears a government shutdown. The price he pays for his peace with Obama is insignificant budget cuts. Finally, to make himself look tough after being a wimp on spending, Boehner is talk, talk, and talk about entitlement reform. Changing the contract on Social Security is the single least popular budget cut, and it places him squarely opposed to Obama on the one issue the president knows he can use to demagogue himself to re-election.
Boehner is playing into Obama’s hands.
Americans want spending reform, and they want it quickly. Boehner should be willing to accept a shutdown of the federal government. The Congress is given the purse and spending strings by the U.S. Constitution, and he should use them. Continuing resolutions are bad government policy, because they fail to selectively reauthorize spending.
Conservative pundit Erick Erickson believes Boehner is actually “playing” conservatives. He explains it this way:
Conservatives are, therefore, getting played by Republicans leaders in the House. Compounding that, House Republicans are making insignificant spending cuts and refusing to pick a fight over Obamacare. They do not, under any stretch of the imagination, want a government shutdown. House Leaders know the only way to shut down Obamacare is to shut down the government and negotiate Obamacare out of existence. So they’d rather keep Obamacare.
Instead of playing the political lightweight, Boehner needs to stand and fight. He needs to stare down Obama and the Senate, furloughing federal workers just as has happened to state and local government workers. Boehner should send the Senate a series of appropriations bills to keep important agencies operating in the name of public safety while allowing spending to lapse for nonessential and unconstitutional government programs.
And he also should avoid talk of changing Social Security and Medicare. Instead, Republicans should bluntly say they will eliminate every single program of government before they will violate the contract the federal government has made on Social Security.
It is morally wrong for the government of the United States to have accepted what are essentially old age pension premiums, then attempt to renege on the contract.
Americans may have misunderstood the nature of Social Security since it was founded. They were told it was an insurance program. With insurance, you pay a premium and that premium is invested by the insurance firm until the day the money is needed. The premiums are reflected on every paycheck’s stub or wage statement in America
Congress as the trustee of these resources may have in the past wildly spent away this money. The trust fund doesn’t exist, and now the bills are coming due — but this doesn’t change the moral imperative to pay people who have expected these old age pensions.
Once it is clear we won’t mess with Social Security and Medicare, we should take a sledgehammer and axe to the rest of government. Announce that roads and mass transit will now be the domain of the states and eliminate the Department of Transportation. Announce energy and environmental regulation will take place in the states and eliminate the Department of Energy and the EPA. Schools can also become the responsibility of the states through the elimination of the Department of Education. Foreign trade will be the responsibility of the private businesses involved if they show courage and eliminate the Department of Commerce. Once again, make banking insurance a private business and eliminate the FDIC. Eliminate the Department of Agriculture and farming will return to being a private business. Announce health insurance and welfare programs will be the domain of the states and give states responsibility for Medicaid.
Finally, announce that we will no longer borrow money and force America to right-size government by operating on a pay-as-you-go system. This doesn’t mean we won’t pay our debts. It merely says we won’t borrow more money. Don’t raise the debt ceiling.
Let Obama defend all these multitude of programs, subsidies, and special interest payments. But do not touch the programs Americans have paid premiums for most of their lifetimes to receive. If Speaker Boehner focuses on trying to reform Social Security he will fail, and in the process, re-elect Barack Obama. Instead he should cut the spending that is politically possible to cut.
Photo Credit: Medill DC (Creative Commons)