Lincoln * Institute

Colin A. Hanna

Colin A. Hanna

Let Freedom Ring, USA


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Let Freedom Ring

Cut, Cap Balance Trys New Tactic

by Colin Hanna

We may look back on July 2011 as one of the great turning points of American history. Or we may see it as one of the greatest missed opportunities in American history. The issue whose disposition will decide which of these views emerges is the question of raising the debt ceiling.

There has been a fair amount of hyperbole on this issue on both sides, but it does indeed have the potential to be a genuine crisis if the debt ceiling is not raised at some point in the next couple of months. So the central question is whether it is addressed with a solution that offers some permanence, or whether it is dealt with as just another typical Washington deal, replete with accounting tricks, overstated estimates and shadowy deals for special interests.

Let Freedom Ring has been part of the coalition of conservative and Tea Party groups that has rule changed the conversation on the debt ceiling by supporting the Cut Cap and Balance plan. We funded the creation of the Cut Cap Balance Pledge website, which is Cut Cap Balance Pledge dot com, and we have helped build the coalition to over 130 Tea Party groups and over 80 non-Tea Party groups. The Pledge has been signed by more than 30 House Members and about half that many Senate members. Most remarkably, it has been signed by over 110,000 citizens and almost every one of the leading Presidential candidates on the Republican side. But so far, no Democrat has signed it, even though polling has shown that it enjoys widespread public support -- it is preferred over cuts alone by more than two to one, and over a debt ceiling increase alone by more than five to one. So how do we break the partisan divide that has kept any Democrat in either the House or the Senate from signing on? I believe that the missing, game-changing element that can break through that wall was introduced this week with the announcement of a Cut Cap and Balance Act by Senators Lee, Toomey and Paul. It not only takes the basic principles of the Cut Cap and Balalaika Pledge into legislative form, it adds a new twist. The basic Cut Cap and Balance pledge says that Pledge Signers will not support a debt ceiling increase unless three pre-conditions are met: substantial cuts in next year's projected deficit, to cut it roughly in half or thereabouts, a statutory cap on federal spending that brings it back towards the historical norm of around 18 to 20 percent, and Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment. The twist that the Lee Toomey Paul Cut Cap Balance act introduces is to Include the requested 2.4 trillion debt ceiling increase in the bill, along with the cuts and caps as described earlier, but to make the debt ceiling increase contingent upon later passage of the Balanced Budget Amendment. This completely changes the political dynamic, and makes it possible, even likely, that Democrats would support the Amendment. You see the Amendment requires a two thirds vote, so significant Democratic support is needed, and if Democrats who wanted to support their President saw that the only thing standing in the way of the increase that he says is so critical is to support a Balanced Budget Amendment that is already supported by 80% of likely voters, then they might be qtr acted to sign it when they would not at present. The result could be that this is the last debt ceiling increase that we would ever need. Just think about how that would spur the economy and restore American fiscal credibility, with the rest of the world.

Keep an eye on this intriguing new tactic, and please visit Cut Cap Balance Pledge dot com and sign the citizens pledge.