House Republicans agreed to offer a three-month extension to the debt limit at their retreat on Thursday, pushing off the debate until April. This was without the requisite spending cuts initially demanded by the GOP for raising the debt ceiling. With the Republicans committing to serious talks about the country’s economic future by putting the sequester discussion before the debt ceiling, it is time for the Democrats to come to the table.
President Obama has rhetorically insisted that a bipartisan solution of tax increases and spending cuts is necessary. He continues to evoke Ronald Reagan on these fiscal issues to badger the GOP into greater concessions. Well, the President, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have succeeded. The Republicans are not hinging the debt ceiling on the spending debate anymore. The GOP accepted raising taxes during the fiscal cliff deal and created an entirely new tax bracket, redefining what is considered “rich” in America.
Now the ball is the possession of the Democrats to show the American people that they are serious about reducing the deficit and not passing the burden on to the millennial generation. Under Reid’s leadership, the Senate has not constructed a budget since April 2009. Not to mention that the bill increased spending by $3.5 trillion. Why hasn’t the Senate proposed a budget in so long? Reid does not want be held accountable for authorizing more government spending. Yes, there are nuances in parliamentary procedure that make it more difficult for the Senate to pass a budget resolution than the House. However, with the Republicans clearly showing their willingness to negotiate, the necessary 60 votes can be achieved.
If the Democrats want to move past the congressional gridlock, they must agree to spending cuts through entitlement reform. Discussing Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are difficult subjects for any politician, Republican or Democrat. The GOP is showing that it is working to ensure the solvency of these programs moving forward and it requires the cooperation of the Democrats to form a bipartisan solution. Debt reduction through tax increases is already set for the next 10 years. With mandatory entitlement expenditures comprising over 56.2% of the budget, Congress must now pursue debt reduction through what causes it in the first place: reckless and inefficient spending.
In 2006, then Senator Obama had the right idea about the United States’ spending commitments in his vote against the debt ceiling increase:
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure,” he said. “It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”
I now challenge the President to make good on his promise and push his party to work with Republicans to legitimately reform government spending.