This coming Thursday the U.S. is expected to reach the limits of governmental borrowing authority. For the past two weeks, the Obama Administration and Congress, have been locked in a test of wills resulting in a partial government shutdown. What makes this coming Thursday so important, is that the failure to raise the national debt borrowing authority could result in a the U.S. defaulting on its financial obligations which would be an unprecedented event. Needless to say, such an event would have unforeseen and undesirable domestic and international repercussions.
The U.S. has experienced a nearly gradual rise in its national debt during its 2 1/4 centuries of sovereign government. There have been rare exceptions to this such as during the Jackson Administration (1829-1837) which saw national debt fall. Some of this debt has occurred due to increases in national prosperity throughout our history while much of it, in recent decades, has been due to the growth of entitlement programs which are no longer economically sustainable. During the Bush 43 presidency, then Senator Barack Obama voted against increasing the debt ceiling and criticized this administration for increasing the national debt from over $5 trillion to $10 trillion during its eight years though Obama conveniently forgot that we had to fight two wars.
Upon being elected to the presidency in 2008 and reelected in 2012, Obama failed to take any concrete steps to reduce government spending. In fact, he enacted a financially unsustainable “health care reform” law whose preliminary costs are expected to add over $1 trillion to the budget deficit and far more than that to the national debt. History shows that most federal programs, particularly social policy programs, far exceed their initial costs as Medicare and Medicaid demonstrate. We must not forget that the “fiscally conservative” Senator Obama has, since becoming President approximately 4 years and nine months ago, increased the national debt to nearly $17 trillion dollars far exceeding the debt incurred by the Bush42 administration and is well on his way to surpass the debt incurred by all previous presidential administrations.
Congressional Republicans are right to try to quit “kicking the can” down the road and begin the painful process of restraining the federal spending leviathan. Although Senator Ted Cruz, was overly quixotic in his belief that we could defund Obamacare through a filibuster, he was spot on in recognizing the bureaucratic and fiscal monstrosity this legislation is and will become if not trimmed back. While it will not be possible to eliminate this legislation until the hopeful advent of a Republican Congress and President on January 20, 2017, incremental legislative steps can be taken to emasculate Obamacare in the interim. A positive political step in this direction New Jersey voters should take tomorrow is electing Steve Lonegan to the U.S. Senate.
Such steps include:
1. Supporting alternative legislation such as the GOP’s sponsored H.R. 3121 which would provide more market-based solutions to our health care problems.
2. Require members of Congress, their staff and executive branch personnel to live under Obamacare provisions.
3. Require income verification for all individuals and families applying for coverage under Obamacare.
4. Repealing the medical device tax.
5. Prohibiting the IRS from enforcing provisions of Obamacare including the individual health insurance mandate.
6. Prohibiting the Justice Department and HHS from conducting prosecutions against individuals or employers such as Hobby Lobby who have religious objections to Obamacare’s mandatory contraception coverage requirements.
7. Follow Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s call for serious discussion of how to reform federal entitlement programs.
8. Prohibit ACORN’s successor organization from being involved in registering individuals for Obamacare.
9. Begin the process of eliminating unnecessary regulations which stifle job creation; particularly by small businesses.
10. End Obamacare exemptions for big businesses and unions.
House Republicans have consistently adhered to legislative budgetary tradition by passing appropriations bills by groups of federal agencies instead of in one allegedly “clean” continuing resolution as advocated by congressional Democrats personified by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Congress must reform the budget process by eliminating continuing resolutions and passing annual agency appropriations bills by September 30 or members of Congress will lose their pay. Congressional Republicans have done their job while the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats have failed to do theirs and Barack Obama and his congressional allies will be solely responsible for a default if one occurs.
The American electorate has chosen divided government in the last two elections. We must not forget that Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution gives the House of Representatives sole power to raise money. Congressional Republicans are right to tenaciously defend that prerogative even as the Obama Administration and its mainstream media allies demonize Ted Cruz and other legislators and media commentators refusing to genuflect before Barack Obama’s inescapable prison of debt and decline.