A little late blogging this because I only had my iPad last week on vacation through beautiful (and hot) Iowa. Let it not be said that there aren't any voices of sanity in the asylum we affectionately call Congress. Here's an excerpt from Sunday's op-ed (8/7) by Congressman Justin Amash (MI-3):
Last week, the federal government utterly failed to produce the debt ceiling deal that the American people deserve. Instead, Republicans and Democrats came together, realized that real economic reforms would require politically difficult compromises, and agreed to do nothing except promise to work on it later.
To excuse their failure, both sides made up scary claims about a coming “default” when, in fact, simple math shows that default was impossible. I joined 65 other House Republicans and 95 Democrats in voting “no.”
In the end, the deal had the impact of a rounding error on our out-of-control budget. The federal government takes in around $6 billion a day and spends $10 billion. That means $4 billion per day is borrowed. Total enforceable cuts in this deal were $21 billion for all of next year. That’s less than one penny of cuts for every dollar of government spending — a small blip on a spending graph that slopes upward into perpetuity.
The rest of the “cuts” in the deal — the ones the politicians bragged about — are promises to pass laws that slow the growth of spending in the future. Promises to pass smaller spending increases are not cuts, and, even if they were, Washington’s reputation for keeping promises is not good.
That is not the sound of partisanship to my eyes. It is the sound of someone politely screaming at the lack of credibility shown on both 'sides' of the issue. Of course, the 'sides' are both of the establishment meaning the outcome was exactly as it has been for years putting us in exactly the spot we find ourselves in today after the credit downgrade and continued economic malaise.
I like to compare his piece to the email I received the next day from West Michigan's other freshman 'conservative' congressman, Bill Huizenga (MI-2).
We have changed the terms of the debate in Washington.
- Debt increases are now paired with spending cuts and not tax increases. A new precedent.
- The old Washington train of thought has been once spending baselines were passed, they were locked in and could only go higher. Not any more.
- It used to be that the debt ceiling was an automatic blank check to spend more taxpayer dollars. We forced a vote to cut spending.
- The president first called for a "clean" debt ceiling increase that did nothing to lower spending. While small, we included real cuts.
- The president insisted that tax increases be a part of the bill and deemed it a "balanced approach." We listened to the American people and passed a bill that includes no new taxes and moves us towards a "balanced budget."
- Senate Democrats attempted to pass legislation that used the same smoke and mirror gimmick of Washington to reduce spending. We passed real reductions.
I agree with many people that the negotiated plan does not go far enough to cut spending immediately. However, in the end I supported the bill because it puts in place a framework for spending controls that Washington desperately needs, particularly the Balanced Budget Amendment.
Some of the key elements of the spending reduction plan include: it will reduce spending as much as it increases the debt ceiling; it does not increase taxes; it keeps the conversation going about the need for fiscal responsibility to improve our economic security; and provides an opportunity to pass the Balanced Budget Amendment.
The silver lining in this latest agreement is the Balanced Budget Amendment. We have the opportunity to end inter-generational theft and begin living within our means. This is the next battle to end big government and higher taxes, and I ask that you join me to work to see the Balanced Budget Amendment enacted.
Let me be clear, this agreement will not solve our fiscal crisis. With control of only one of the three legislative branches, we need more support to fully address out of control spending. But, we will continue this fight at every turn to have the government responsibly manage its checkbook just as you and your family does.
The email above, depending on your state of mind, will either make you laugh of cry. either way, it drips with insincerity as we all know that the mentality of Washington did not change one iota with that bill. One could go through point by point and dispute each bullet point but suffice it to say that the bill didn't change the terms of the debate since spending was not substantively changed and we will continue to borrow against our future.