Valentine: Government fails to hold line on spending

Friday, August 5, 2011

I don't know that it's written anywhere but it should be. When it comes to legislation, it's probably not good for your party's agenda if you pass legislation that couldn't pass with members of your own party.

That's what the U.S. House of Representatives did with the debt ceiling legislation. The bill needed 216 to pass. There are 240 Republicans in the House yet only 174 voted in favor of the bill. Ninety-five Democrats carried the bill to victory. And they wonder why the Republican electorate is mad.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) summed it up best. He said, "This debt limit deal forfeits the mandate that House Republicans received last November to 'hold the line' on the nation's debt and spending, and I could not support it." This is the man who should be Speaker of the House, not John Boehner.

The passing of the debt ceiling bill was a huge victory for deficit spending and more runaway government. If this isn't Big Government then it's Big Government's little brother and he's just a couple of pounds shy of his big bro'.

Most of the spending cuts (if they ever really materialize) will be after 2014. There will be only $21 billion in cuts next year. That's not even 2 percent of the yearly deficit. Just $42 billion the next year. The very most we can hope to get are $240 billion per year; again a drop in the bucket to a $1.5 trillion yearly deficit. In other words, it makes that $1.5 trillion yearly deficit about $1.3 trillion. Big whoop.

It does absolutely nothing to rein in entitlement programs. Everyone in Washington knows that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the problem. They eat up a majority of the budget yet the Republicans punted on dealing with those issues. Not to mention that Obamacare stays fully intact. That would be another $120 billion a year in savings.

Nor did the Republicans throw tax reductions into the mix. Cutting taxes always stimulates the economy yet we got no tax cuts in the deal. They didn't even take the opportunity to make the Bush tax cuts permanent thus we get a double-whammy on January 1, 2013. More deficit spending and the Bush tax cuts expire. Does anyone really believe the Democrats in the Senate will ever go along with making the Bush tax cuts permanent?

Instead of ever so slightly scaling back the government the House Republicans could've just said no to business as usual. With a legally-imposed ceiling on the debt both chambers would've been forced to find real cuts in the budget this year, not three years down the road. Perhaps we would've needed to raise the debt ceiling some but really by how much we'll never know.

What I heard from Republican congressmen who voted for this bill is it was the best deal they could make. With all due respect, that is bovine scatology. The House Republicans held all the cards. This was one of those unique moments in history. Plain and simple, there could be no increase in the debt without their permission.

And what a perfect "made for Hollywood" ending this could have been. The people's house, freshly stocked with true representation of the people sent to Washington with a mandate to stop the runaway spending, throws a monkey wrench into the cog of the huge political machine and brings it to a grinding halt. Cecil B. DeMille would be proud. Yet it was not meant to be. It was more like a Shakespearean tragedy. Now the American people are left asking, Et tu, Brute?

Phil Valentine is a syndicated talk-show host. His Web site is