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Your Mission During August Recess: Start The Debt Ceiling Battle

The old fashioned congressional “town hall meeting” where your Representative provides you and your fellow citizens with an opportunity to ask questions live and in person has nearly gone extinct after Democrats melting under the intense heat of citizen questions about Obamacare helped power the 2010 Tea Party wave election and a historic defeat for Democratic House Members.

But there are still congressional town hall meetings being held, and we urge CHQ readers to attend one in their area, especially to ask questions about the upcoming vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Debt CeilingConservatives have heard time and again that the Republican Party’s Capitol Hill establishment really wants to cut spending; they just want to do it a little slower, or in different areas or through different means than what principled small government constitutional conservatives recommend.

The GOP’s establishment leaders will soon get their chance to make good on those claims as the calendar counts down to the day the federal government hits its borrowing limit.  However, the signs aren’t looking very favorable for common sense to win and the federal government to be put on a path to a sustainable budget.

The problem for the Congressional Republicans is not that the public isn’t ready for smaller government – a large majority of Americans think the size and growth of government are the greatest threats to the freedom of the ordinary citizen.

The problem is the Republican leadership has no real interest in smaller government.

Back in July, the House Freedom Caucus laid out three possible demands they could make in talks to raise the debt ceiling, which are expected to conclude in September because the government is already at its borrowing limit, reported Pete Kasperowicz of the Washington Examiner.

Those options were $250 billion in spending cuts, a bill to repeal Obamacare, and a third possibility that aims to change the way the government spends and borrows money as it approaches the debt ceiling.

A House aide told the Washington Examiner that there is now little expectation that the Freedom Caucus could realistically demand such a large spending cut and the idea of passing any kind of healthcare reform bill seems dead given the Senate's failure in July.

Kasperowicz reports that leaves the third option as the "most realistic," and the aide said the group of conservatives are expected to insist on spending and borrowing management changes as a condition of getting their vote in September.

According to Kasperowicz, the aide said many in the caucus would still prefer cuts, but said the lesser demand of asking for improved money management on the part of the government is one they hope Republican leaders can accept.

By moving away from the demand for spending cuts, the Freedom Caucus has "made it pretty easy" for GOP leaders to negotiate a deal, the aide told Kasperowicz.

The changes being sought by the House Freedom Caucus are reflected in a bill introduced by Rep. Dave Schweikert, (AZ-6) called the Debt Ceiling Alternative Act. Under that bill, the government would only be allowed to issue debt to pay off principal and interest on the debt.

It would also call on the government to rescind unobligated funds and sell off assets in order to stay under the debt ceiling, noted Kasperowicz.

Unfortunately, it's not clear if GOP leaders in the House or the Senate will accept that language. Leadership and committee aides had little to say this week about what sorts of ideas they might accept, and it's possible that they could decide to pursue a simple debt ceiling hike with no strings attached that would pass with support from Democrats.

We’ve seen this scenario from the Capitol Hill Republican establishment a dozen times before.  There’s brave talk of holding firm on spending, passing “Cut, Cap and Balance” and other reforms, but when push comes to shove there are plenty of establishment Republicans, such as Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey and Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who have as little interest in cutting spending as do the Democrats.

They will be whispering in the back of the closed-door GOP Conference meeting that Republicans are getting killed by this or that interest group that feeds at the federal trough.  Add that to the establishment media’s howls of protest about all the poor people or “priorities” that will be hurt if spending is cut and we predict another Republican leadership betrayal of conservative principles like we saw in the debt ceiling debates while Obama was President.

The only way this is going to change is if grassroots conservatives turn out and demand that spending be cut, as President Trump’s budget proposed, and that debt reforms be implemented now. We urge CHQ readers to get ready for a fight on the debt ceiling by attending a town hall meeting with their Representative, or participating in a telephone town hall if one is offered, calling talk radio and writing letters to the editor demanding spending be cut and the automatic increases in the debt ceiling be ended.

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