To listen to the president, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the mainstream media and even some of my favorite conservative pundits, you’d think the House of Representatives hadn’t passed “Cut, Cap and Balance” Monday. The plan, carefully crafted by the Republican Study Committee and then improved upon by various members of the House, is routinely dismissed as extreme — if it’s acknowledged at all.
Reid yesterday actually said he’s waiting for Speaker John Boehner to inform him what kind of deficit reduction and debt limit increase deal would pass the House. RSC Chairman Jim Jordan quickly put Reid in his place, reminding Reid that the House had already passed Cut, Cap and Balance.
On the conservative side, pundits and strategists seem to assume a balanced budget amendment is too far-fetched, that the hurdles are too high. But CCB requires only that an amendment pass the House and Senate and go to the states before the nation raises its debt ceiling — and some 20 Democratic senators have at one time or another indicated they would support such an amendment to balance the budget.
Other conservatives have legitimate objections to a balanced budget amendment and seem to have consigned themselves to one of two alternative “solutions” to the debt ceiling debate — the as-yet-to-be-crafted Gang of Six plan or the McConnell compromise. I certainly have more respect for those who have valid concerns about the potential unintended consequences of a balanced budget amendment than I do for those who simply want to give up before Cut, Cap and Balance is even tried in the Senate. But I still maintain Cut, Cap and Balance is the best plan on the table.
So, as a supporter of CCB, I was relieved when a series of three reinforcements came across my computer screen yesterday and this morning.
First, yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of speaking via Skype with a couple of House Republicans as a part of the House Republican Conference’s Blogger Row on a balanced budget amendment. Both Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida and Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia reiterated their support for Cut, Cap and Balance and said they’re optimistic a balanced budget amendment could pass.
“The reason I supported Cut, Cap and Balance was not because it was a Republican plan, but because it was the American family plan,” Southerland said. “It is based in common sense and every American family, every small business — they know you can’t spend more money than you have. I learned that from a very young age with my allowance. My parents gave me a certain amount of money and I couldn’t go over that. That’s not hard.”
About a CCB vote in the Senate, Southerland expressed my sentiments exactly.
“We don’t know if we don’t try,” Southerland said. “So much of the conventional wisdom in Washington D.C. is not the conventional wisdom that our Founding Fathers had. This place, they love to quit and just call somebody else in to finish the job that they were set out to do. I think if we don’t continue to push hard, then we’ll certainly never know.”
He had sharp words for Harry Reid, as well. “We work over here in the House,” he said. “We send him legislation. It’s almost like he doesn’t even come to work.”
Westmoreland echoed Southerland. “We’ve still got faith that it might pass in the Senate,” he said. “It would take senators coming to their senses that spending has been out of control. Even though the president says he doesn’t need a constitutional amendment to do his job, I think he does. Hopefully the Senate can be persuaded that the cuts that we’re doing are very reasonable — $111 billion in the ’12 budget. I think the cap is very reasonable, 20 percent of GDP, and then, of course, to me, the balanced budget amendment makes sense. Forty-nine of the 50 states already have it. It’s good policy.”
Westmoreland even has hope the president would sign the legislation he’s promised to veto. “I think if the Senate passed it, he would really be obligated to sign it or face defeat in 2012.”
Then, yesterday evening, after my conversations with Southerland and Westmoreland, Sen. Jim DeMint eloquently defended Cut, Cap and Balance on the Greta Van Susteren show. Every word is worth watching.
Then, finally, this morning, Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner eloquently explained why the think tank has thrown its weight behind CCB, as well. He writes:
As of this moment, only one plan in Congress attempts transformative change that puts America on the path to getting spending under control before raising the debt limit. That is the Cut, Cap and Balance Act passed by the House of Representatives on Monday night. It isn’t perfect, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
The act cuts federal spending immediately, caps it by statute going forward, and requires passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would then be sent to the states for ratification.
If you haven’t heard about it, you’re not alone. The nation’s media all but ignored this historic vote or dismissed the Cut, Cap and Balance Act as an empty gesture. CBS’s Bob Schieffer once again spoke for the establishment when he called it “a total waste of time…part of this little Kabuki dance that we go through.”
This media establishment took its cue from President Obama, who showered his trademark disdain on the House vote, not only threatening a veto but also announcing a so-called breakthrough in negotiations just hours before the House voted. In doing so, Mr. Obama refused to engage the arguments of Cut, Cap and Balance and signaled his fear of this serious proposal.
The House has already passed Cut, Cap and Balance. Conservatives should keep up the pressure for a vote in the Senate. Make the Senate fail it. Make the president veto it. But don’t give into the lie that Republicans haven’t put forward a plan.