“The sequester is quite possibly the greatest thing to have happened to the fiscal conservative cause, at least in quite some time as far as I can remember.” — Jonathan Bydlak
It’s that time of year when spending battles come to the forefront of political discussion in Washington. Various congressional committees are currently debating appropriations measures that will divvy up taxpayer dollars to fund the federal government and a litany of government programs.
Most free market groups place heavy emphasis on taxes and regulatory concerns. But the Coalition to Reduce Spending, as their name suggests, seeks to focus its efforts on spending and budget deficits.
United Liberty recently talked with Jonathan Bydlak, president of the Coalition to Reduce Spending, about his organization’s very specific focus on the river of red ink that has been flowing from Washington.
“When you think about which groups in DC tend to be the most effective, it usually, in my experience, are those that have a very focused mission and execute on that mission very effectively,” Bydlak told United Liberty. “So there’s a reason why people pay attention to the NRA or the ACLU — because their mission is very focused and they build an interest group and they are very successful at accomplishing that mission. Nobody’s really done that for the issue of spending.”
He explained that the problem the United States faces in terms of budget deficits and the nation debt is because there wasn’t a singular focus on spending when the economy was doing well. Most people, as Bydlak recalled, didn’t want to upset the apple cart. But many people have begun to attribute the excessive deficits and debt to the economic problems the country has experienced in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.
“People understand the country is borrowing dramatically more than we actually have in our governmental coffers, if you will. And so they’re asking this question about how can we, why do we have these economic problems,” noted Bydlak. “And they’re making the connection that a lot of the problems that we’re having are coming from the fact that we’re spending beyond our means. And so this issue of spending reform and spending reduction is in a position that didn’t really exist five years ago.”
“So what we’re essentially trying to do is really organize the people who get that this issue is really the issue of our generation” he added. “The issue that not only impact the future prosperity of our kids and grandkids, but also our economic well being today.”
What many Americans don’t understand about budget deficits is that it is another form of taxation, though it is passed onto future generations. Bydlak noted that the focus on reducing taxes to “starve the beast” hasn’t really panned out for conservatives the way that many thought it would, explaining that borrowing and printing money has often served as an alternative.
“[T]he reality is…that government has other means to get access to capital. So it’s not just a matter of taxing the populous, it’s also borrowing and printing money, and basically putting off the pain off into the future, or into these sort of indirect methods,” explained Bydlak. “So I think that’s why you’re seeing this sort of change now and realization that spending is what matters.”
“Milton Friedman talk[ed] about this all the time — the true cost of the government is not what it taxes, but what it spends, because that spending has to ultimately be paid for,” he continued. “So I think that’s sort of the change that you’re seeing, this realization that if you focus on taxes and you ignore the spending side of the equation, you’re still ultimately paying for these things, regardless of whether or not you’re paying the tax today versus tomorrow or paying in the form of your 1040 versus in the form of inflation or higher interest rates or what have you.”
While President Obama and others in Washington have been preaching doom and gloom because of the sequester, Bydlak says that it both a political loser for the White House and perhaps the biggest win for fiscal conservatives in years.
“The sequester is quite possibly the greatest thing to have happened to the fiscal conservative cause, at least in quite some time as far as I can remember,” said Bydlak. “We actually started seeing those agencies and departments of government that were being faced with sequester doing what a business would do — looking soberly at where they’re spending money and cutting money. And lo and behold, they didn’t have to make drastic cuts that force them to close up shop or what have you. And so I think it was actually very much a political winner.”
“I think if you force the President to go and have to create a sequester-like situation with respect to other things that he has actually called for cuts,” said Bydlak in reference to billions in spending cuts that Obama supports, “I think that’s gonna be a political winner as well for the fiscal conservative cause.”
In order to push the issue, the Coalition to Reduce Spending has come up with the “Reject the Debt“ pledge. The pledge, which is similar to American for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, provides elected officials and candidates a chance to show voters that they’re serious about tackling deficit spending.
“[Politicians] run and say ‘I’m a fiscal conservative’ or ‘I’m a limited government guy’…well, what does that mean? And so the philosophy behind our pledge is to basically say that we’re going to define what it means when you say you’re a fiscal conservative,” explained Bydlak, who has drawn comparisons to anti-tax activist Grover Norquist. “And so we define is as a couple of different points. The first is that they’re consider all spending on the table open to reduction, and that’s for the reasons we talked about before. The second is that they’ll only support budgets that have a path to balance.”
“So the pledge is basically trying to, through these couple of different planks, say ‘this is what we think it means to be a fiscal conservative,’” he added. “And then, of course, when you actually get people to go on the record and sign their name, it’s a little bit different than just sort of making a promise on the stump.”
Twenty-four (24) candidates signed the “Reject the Debt” pledge in 2012, which was the first year of the organization’s existence. Signers included Ted Cruz and Doug Collins, who were elected last year to the Senate and House, respectively. Mark Sanford signed the pledge during the special election in South Carolina’s First Congressional District. His opponent in the GOP runoff refused to sign it and was hammered on the issue. Sanford eventually went on to win the nomination and the subsequent general special election.
Rep. Paul Broun, who also recently chatted with United Liberty, became the first candidate running for the open Senate seat in Georgia to sign the pledge.
As for the organization’s future plans, Bydlak says that they will be focusing on special elections in New Jersey and Alabama’s First Congressional District and begin preparing for the 2014 mid-term election. He also noted that they’re developing a new activism portal that will help the grassroots hold elected officials accountable.
There was so much that discussed that couldn’t fit in the write up, including the push in Congress to defund ObamaCare and various sacred cows that both political parties have when it comes to federal spending. You can listen to all of that in the audio posted above.
If you interested in learning more about the Coalition to Reduce Spending and their quest to beat back budget deficits, you can learn more at ReduceSpending.org or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.