On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released a statement claiming that he would use the new year to “hold the president accountable for the ‘balanced’ approach he promised, meaning significant spending cuts and reforms to the entitlement programs that are driving our country deeper and deeper into debt.”
In an editorial at Yahoo! News, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) defended the “fiscal cliff” deal and, like Boehner, explained that he is ready to tackle the “real problem” — Washington’s spending addiction:
Predictably, the President is already claiming that his tax hike on the “rich” isn’t enough. I have news for him: the moment that he and virtually every elected Democrat in Washington signed off on the terms of the current arrangement, it was the last word on taxes. That debate is over. Now the conversation turns to cutting spending on the government programs that are the real source of the nation’s fiscal imbalance. And the upcoming debate on the debt limit is the perfect time to have that discussion.
We simply cannot increase the nation’s borrowing limit without committing to long overdue reforms to spending programs that are the very cause of our debt.
The only way to achieve the balance the President claims to want is by cutting spending. As he himself has admitted, no amount of tax hikes or revenue could possibly keep up with the amount of money Washington is projected to spend in the coming years. At some point, high taxes become such a drag on the economy that the revenue stalls.
While most Washington Democrats may want to deny it, the truth is, the only thing we can do to solve the nation’s fiscal problem is to tackle government spending head on — and particularly, spending on health care programs, which appear to take off like a fighter jet on every chart available that details current trends in federal spending.
That certainly sounds nice, but, as explained yesterday, Boehner and McConnell have a credibility problem. In 2011, they managed to get $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts in the last debt ceiling fight. This was actually quite a victory because it was done without raising taxes.
But as we approached the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Republicans in both chambers suddenly wanted to get out of that deal. The main reason was that they didn’t want to cut defense spending — the third largest part of the budget, behind Medicare and Social Security.
Moody’s, one of the major credit rating agencies, noted yesterday that, unless measures are taken to reduce our significant debt problems, the United States will face a credit downgrade. And as Erick Erickson explained yesterday, Republicans may have “boxed themselves into a government shutdown.” While that thought may make some Republicans shutter, but at this point, they have to actually back up their rhetoric with more than empty words and come back to their limited government roots.