Friday, November 25, 2022

Stopping a Clean Debt Limit Hike Is an Early Test for Republican Leadership

Stopping a Clean Debt Limit Hike Is an Early Test for Republican Leadership

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

House Republicans have their first leadership test. They need to block a Lame Duck debt limit hike and promise an epic fight for 2023 to impose spending controls as a condition of any debt limit increase.

Are they going to rise to the challenge to fight the D.C. Swamp or go along with it. If Republicans try to placate conservative voters with an investigation of Hunter Biden, as much fun as that would be, in lieu of cutting spending, then they have learned nothing. Many Republicans take conservatives for granted and think they can give voters a virtual head pat with some fun investigations while failing to engage in the real fights that will make America better.

Reports indicate that Republicans are putting up some early resistance to hiking the debt limit, yet we have seen this ‘Failure Theater’ play before where Republicans put up a make-believe fight then cave at the last minute. The Hill reported on November 17, 2022, “a Democratic-led push for a bipartisan fix to the nation’s debt ceiling during the lame duck session getting a chilly reception from Senate Republicans.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to get a debt limit hike done before the end of the year to avoid putting any conditions on the federal government bottomless credit card. The Hill further reported that “while some Senate GOP leaders haven’t ruled out a compromise with Democrats to address the debt limit during the lame-duck session, they’ve also expressed some skepticism about the prospects of a deal.” Democrats are worried about a “showdown” next year when Republicans will have the power to, at a minimum, impose some reforms on spending.

This is a great test of the individuals who want to occupy House Republican leadership positions. If they doesn’t signal early that the debt limit is going to be an epic fight to reform spending, then conservatives should get ready for a disappointing next two years. There should be zero compromise on reacquainting Republicans with the idea of reforming spending.  After years of multi trillion dollars in new debt, they seem to have forgotten why the Tea Party existed and the reason why voters sent Republicans to Drain the Swamp a few short days ago in the midterm elections. Number one on the list of demands conservatives should demand of leadership would be a commitment to America to push a new version of ‘Cut, Cap and Balance’ to be attached to any debt limit hike in the next Congress and to block the current effort to pass one in Lame Duck.

Back in 2011, Republicans fought for cuts to spending as part of any deal on hiking the debt limit. The fight started as Cut, Cap and Balance (CCB) and resulted in ‘The Sequester,’ a series of cuts to discretionary programs. The bill was sponsored in the House by now Fox host, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and supported by current House members who are leading the charge in the House Freedom Caucus. The Senate fight was led by current head of the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI) Jim DeMint, Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI). That bill needs to be updated and taken up again.

Specifically, what Republicans need to dig in and fight for is for a new improved version of CCB. First the cuts need to be deep and across the board mirroring the Sequester that Congress abolished a few years ago. Element two is to cap spending so that the federal government must operate under a cap that lowers every year as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the U.S economy. Element three is scheduling a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that has a provision preventing tax hikes from being used to establish balance. The last element that was not in the prior versions is Sen. Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve. The Fed is the reason why we have inflation today. The Fed has engaged in expanding the money supply over the past few decades in a way that is the proximate cause of inflation.

Now is the time for Republicans to act like Republicans again. Now that they enter 2023 with some actual power, let’s see if Republicans in the House use it for good or give the power away to Democrats so they can engage in two years of Failure Theater.

Brian Darling is former Counsel for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

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