Conservatives press Boehner on debt ceiling strategy

House conservatives are urging Republican House Speaker John Boehner to include institutional spending reforms, including a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, as part of the GOP’s demand to Democrats for raising the debt ceiling.

In a symbolic flourish underscoring the push, the Republican Study Committee is hand delivering its “cut, cap and balance” plan in a letter to Boehner later today or potentially Monday.

The letter says in order to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans should demand immediate spending cuts large enough to halve the deficit next year, a law that automatically reduces spending if it exceeds 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution introduced by freshman Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois be sent to the states for ratification.

The effort by the conservatives, who are led by RSC Chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio, comes as Majority Leader Eric Cantor is negotiating with Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Daniel Inouye over sizable spending cuts, but not, according to Cantor’s public comments, any of the institutional reforms the conservatives are proposing.

“We’re not going to increase the nation’s credit limit for trillions of dollars . . .without commensurate . . . more than trillions of dollars in cuts,” Cantor said early Friday. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel did broadly back the idea of institutional reforms Friday, saying increasing the debt ceiling will require “serious spending cuts and reforms in the way we spend taxpayers’ money.”

Privately, the conservatives are suspicious of Boehner.

“Leadership from the beginning has been trying to kill the balanced budget amendment,” a GOP aide told The Daily Caller, adding that the stakes are high because the debt ceiling vote is “the most leverage we’re gonna have this Congress.”

Boehner cosponsored a balanced budget amendment introduced by GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia in the last Congress. But privately, he views it as a “gimmick,” said Andy Roth, the Vice President for Government Affairs at the Club for Growth, which is backing the version of the amendment introduced by Walsh.

In the Senate, GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, and Rand Paul of Kentucky successfully brought every Republican Senator on board – including liberal Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine — with an amendment identical to Walsh’s.

The version of Goodlatte’s bill introduced this Congress is being marked up in the House Judiciary Committee. Several amendments have been proposed to bring its language in line with Walsh’s amendment.

Polls show the idea is widely popular with the public, but one objection commonly given to a balanced budget amendment is that it is impractical in the event of a war or other emergency.

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  • dilbert animation on ebay

    If Boehner and rest of republican leaders would just submit budgets that conform to a so-called balenced budget amendement criteria they could try it out for a year. Since Democrats have abdicated their financial obligations and Obama is in campaign mode, it is time to get off the pot.

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  • Swen

    A balanced budget amendment? Great idea, but.. It isn’t the answer to the current problem. We need to rein in federal spending *now*, not several years down the road *if* 38 states can be convinced to ratify it. Under present circumstances, a BBA just passes the buck for continued out-of-control federal spending to the states. Passing a BBA would allow Congress the illusion of fiscal responsibility without the reality. They would be able to argue that they passed a BBA, so it’s not their fault if the states haven’t ratified it and forced them to rein in spending.

    And what does a BBA say about Congress? What message are they sending? That they’re so fiscally irresponsible that it will take a Contitutional amendment to tie their hands and make them stop spending? There are a lot of ways that Congress can be irresponsible besides spending, so perhaps we should cover all the bases and simply amend the Constitution to require that Congress act like responsible adults?

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  • citiman


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    2011: “I put together Seal Team 6 to take out Bin Laden.”

    2008: “Bin Laden is innocent until proven guilty, and must be captured alive and given a fair trial.”
    2011: “I authorized Seal Team 6 to kill Bin Laden.”

    2008: ” Guantanamo is entirely unnecessary, and the detainees should not be interrogated.”
    2011: “Vital intelligence was obtained from Guantanamo detainees that led to our locating Bin Laden

  • old man

    Looks like what ever law is passed makes no difference. They have a debt ceiling now and what happens, they pass a bill making it higher. Or the ignore the constitution and do things by executive order. I agree with scrap iron, we need new people in congress.