Why did the President walk out on his debt-limit meeting last week with congressional leaders? Because House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.) dared to push back on the idea of increasing taxes. ???Don???t call my bluff,??? the President reportedly huffed before storming out. Conservatives would be wise to call his bluff???he???s holding some very weak cards.
The President also proclaimed during a press conference that he wouldn???t sign any short-term increase in the debt limit if it didn???t include tax increases. This, too, is a bluff. No President in his right mind would veto a short-term debt-limit increase that would preserve the full faith and credit of the United States pending a long-term deal.
Don???t Increase Taxes
As negotiations continue on passing a debt-limit increase this week, the House needs to start the process of legislating. One idea that should not be on the table is increasing taxes in a time of economic malaise. Tax increases will harm economic growth and may increase unemployment above the current 9.2%.
End the Secrecy of Negotiations
House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Obama have been involved in secret negotiations for the past few weeks to find common ground on legislation to increase the debt ceiling above $14.3 trillion. The House should start the legislative process of marking up a debt-limit increase to allow the House to craft a deal???in public.
The secret negotiations have effectively stopped Congress from starting the process of legislating. But the House and Senate would be wise to start, this week, seeing where more public negotiations go. The American people have a right to participate in this process.
Balanced Budget Amendment
This week, the House and Senate will commence a historic debate on a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA) to the Constitution. The House and Senate are expected to debate similar versions of a BBA, which needs a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate before it can be submitted to the states for ratification.
Although neither chamber is expected to pass the BBA, this debate will start the long battle necessary to get a strong version of it to the states over the next few years. Both the House and Senate versions make it harder to raise taxes. They both force Congress to have a two-thirds vote of both chambers to pass tax increases. This will make it harder for free-spending politicians of both parties to raise taxes on the American people.
Sen. Tom Coburn???s Idea
Sen. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) is expected this week to release a blueprint that identifies savings of $9 trillion. Although conservatives will bristle at some of the ideas that may be considered tax increases on the American people, this report is said to include some great ideas on how to eliminate redundant programs, cut overspending on individuals who are not in financial need, and eliminate much government waste and fraud. Sen. Coburn will be putting some good ideas on the table to reduce government spending, many of which could be part of any the debt-limit increase legislation.
Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield of The Heritage Foundation have put together an excellent study on poverty in America. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that more than 30 million Americans live in ???poverty??? and that one in seven are poor. Most Americans link the word ???poverty??? with a lack of nutritious food, shelter and clothing.
The reality is different, and this blockbuster study should shatter the misconceptions of poverty in America. Rector and Sheffield have found that, in 2005, the average household defined as ???poor??? lived in a house or apartment equipped with air-conditioning and cable TV. A third of families defined as ???poor??? have two or more cars. For entertainment, the household had two color televisions, a DVD player, a VCR and, if there were children in the home (especially boys), the family had a game system such as an Xbox or PlayStation. Clearly, the U.S. definition of ???poor??? in the U.S. would be middle class or rich in most lesser-developed nations. We have it good.
See the full Heritage Foundation paper: Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox: What is Poverty in the United States Today?