The House of Representatives passed a bill put together by House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, to raise the debt limit without raising taxes. The bill, titled the Budget Control Act of 2011, includes cuts to government spending, a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a two tiered debt limit increase requiring a second round of approval a year from now. Boehner had to add the balanced budget amendment to his bill in order to get fiscal conservatives and Tea Party representatives to come aboard.
The Democrat controlled Senate voted immediately to table Boehner’s bill, effectively killing it in the Senate unless the Democrats vote to bring it back for debate. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-NV, wants the Senate to vote on his debt limit increase. Reid’s plan also does not include tax increases but the spending cuts are smaller, and some have argued that Reid’s plan uses accounting gimmicks like counting not being in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next ten years as a “spending cut”. By killing the Boehner plan in the Senate, Reid hopes he can get Senate Republicans to avoid filibustering his own plan; he has enough Democrat votes to pass his plan, but not enough to overturn a filibuster should Senate Republicans choose that option.
Still, by writing down a plan and getting it through the House, Speaker Boehner is the only person in Washington who is proposing a specific plan for the debt ceiling, and has demonstrated the ability to get it passed. This is more than can be said for President Obama, who each day seems ever more diminished, petulant and desperate. The President cries about Republican obstructionism, but offers no details of his own. He seems very good at criticizing others and tearing down their ideas, but he has offered nothing apart from class warfare rhetoric and platitudes.
White House press secretary Jay Carney even said the President could not release details of his plan because it would be picked apart by the opposition. Really? How spineless is that? House Speaker John Boehner, Rep Paul Ryan, R-WI, Rep Ron Paul, R-TX and Senator Mitch McConnell R-KY, have released specific details to the public and left themselves open to the inevitable attacks from the opposition. At least they had the guts to put themselves out there and be honest about where they want to take the country. The President and House Democrats just cast stones and offer nothing of their own like cowards.
I know many Tea Party activists and fiscal conservatives find much to dislike in the Boehner bill. I myself am sympathetic to their cause. However, if they stepped back they would see what a stunning victory they are set to achieve. Since coming to Washington after the 2010 elections they changed the entire narrative. Two years ago President Obama was well on his way to fulfilling his promise of “fundamentally transforming America” into a European style welfare state complete with the sclerotic economy that comes with it. Now most of his agenda is halted and the Tea Party is looking for areas to start rolling it back.
Since the 2010 elections the argument is no longer about whether or not to reduce government, but by how much it will be reduced. The Democrats failed to pass a budget for two years and the President’s own budget failed 97-0 in the Senate. In the budget fight earlier this year and the debt limit fight today, Republicans have managed to do much more than anyone thought possible just a year ago. Let us not forget they only control one half of one third of the government and the mainstream media is still firmly on the side of Democrats, yet Republicans, with Tea Party support, have managed to set the agenda from day one. At this point they should be careful not to overplay their hand as Obama did when he took office. This is a long war regarding the future of the American social contract and the relationship between the citizen and the state in this country. Pushing for a total victory now will likely backfire. The next battle is the 2012 election; the Tea Party caucus would do well to remember this, lest voters swing back towards Obama.