A little over a year ago Congress raised the debt ceiling, thus giving President Obama a free pass to spend his way to a $16 trillion burden on future generations of American taxpayers.
Part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling was an elaborate “sequestration” scheme, concocted mostly by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner, which allowed Congress to look like it was committing to some serious spending reductions – after the election of course.
We said at the time raising the debt ceiling was a bad idea and that Congress should use the pressure of the looming debt ceiling to force real spending reform, such as Senator Jim DeMint’s Cut, Cap and Balance plan.
The establishment Republican leaders of Congress, particularly Speaker Boehner, dragooned enough Republican members of the House into voting for the sequestration plan to eventually pass it.
However, the ink was hardly dry on the bill before establishment Republicans started talking about ways to kill the plan they just passed to cut spending and replace it with – you guessed it – more spending.
The most vigorous proponents of undoing the sequestration plan are Republican defense hawks who argue that the mandatory cuts to the Pentagon will “gut” our national defense and seriously harm our national security.
This begs the question, “If it was so bad for national defense, why did you pass it in the first place?”
Other Republican friends of the defense industry argue that making the cuts to the Pentagon at a time of high unemployment and low private sector economic activity will hurt the economy.
This mentality, reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s infamous “we’re all Keynesians now” remark in favor of federal “stimulus” spending, is the weakest argument Republicans can offer in favor of canceling sequestration.
It also reminds us that, while President Eisenhower was no conservative -- at least compared to Bob Taft -- he did have a point when he warned us to beware of the “military-industrial complex.”
Claiming that the defense budget is some kind of a "jobs program" makes Republican leaders look like they have lost their minds to anyone who cares about getting America off the road to national bankruptcy.
One could just as easily apply this same justification to the federal domestic policy spending that keeps the Democrats' allies in the Service Employees International Union employed, or as a reason to keep any other federal gravy train going, whether it is necessary to fulfill the constitutional responsibilities of the federal government or not.
For their part, Democrats are making the same arguments against any reductions in domestic program spending, substituting the emotional complaint that such cuts will hurt “the least among us” in favor of the Republicans’ national security boogie man.
Slowing the rate of the increase in spending isn’t enough anymore. At some point, Congress has to balance the budget. We think that point was reached and passed a long time ago. Republicans in Congress have promised to be the Party of fiscal responsibility, but whenever they are put to the test on spending, they buckle and keep right on spending.
Whether we spend the money on welfare or the Pentagon, we will be just as broke, and a lot less secure, if we keep running trillion-dollar deficits. If the budget cuts mandated in the sequestration law are wrongly allocated between the defense and domestic constitutional responsibilities of the federal government, then Republicans must come-up with the right amount to cut from each, and stick to it.