Conservatives to Congress: “Spend one dollar less”

A new strategy has emerged from conservative groups over the debt ceiling as they emerge from a fractured fight over the government shutdown. The message to Congress: spend one dollar less than last year.

The coalition of 20 groups, first reported by National Review, has written a letter to lawmakers urging them to take caution in their approach on the debt ceiling and government funding as House and Senate tackling the budget.

“The undersigned public policy organizations are writing to you today about the upcoming debt ceiling debate and our belief that Congress has a moral obligation to pursue additional spending reductions before taking on additional debt,” wrote the organizations in the letter to members of Congress.

“Specifically, we propose the following: If Washington wants to take on more debt, isn’t it fair that they at least be forced to spend One Dollar Less next year than they’re spending this year?” the letter continued. “Most families are reducing their budgets by far more than one dollar, shouldn’t Washington at least do this much? The American people certainly think so.”

Signers to the letter include Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Andrew Moylan of the R Street Institute, Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Phil Kerpen of American Commitment.

The organizations point to polling to back up their view, noting that 80% of Americans believe that Congress “should spend at least One Dollar Less next year.” The polling also found that 63% strongly believe that “spending reductions should be even greater.”

“[Eighty percent] issues are rare in our polarized politics,” noted the organizations. “Of particular warning to Congress, only 4% said that Congress should spend more next year. And yet that’s what Washington is currently set to do—siding with the 4% to spend $175 billion more next year than they are this year.”

“We believe One Dollar Less is powerful because it is relatable, an amount Americans can wrap their minds around whereas few can with numbers as big as hundreds of billions and trillions. It also relatable as it is how families consider their own budgets every year — ‘Is our total spending more or less?’ — not pondering convoluted cuts from projected increases,” the groups added.

The letter comes amid reports that there is increased pressure from Republican appropriators on House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) to come to an agreement on spending with Senate counterpart, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WI), on a deal that funds the government and eliminates sequestration.

Per the Reid-McConnell deal passed last month, budget committees have until December 13 to forge a budget deal. The Continuing Resolution expires on January 15, per the agreement, and the debt ceiling will be reached on February 7.

Separately, Norquist, one of the most powerful conservatives in the country, wrote an op-ed at The Daily Caller in which he explained that Republicans have leverage in the budget discussions due to the Obama Administration’s implosion and declared that tax hikes “are off the table.”

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