Legislative Lowdown: Conservatives lost one battle — now let’s win the war

Spending cuts averted

On the spending side, the Sequester is scheduled to kick in. The Obama administration wants to use those scheduled cuts included in the 2011 debt-limit deal as leverage to get Republicans to violate theATRtax pledge.

The Americans for Tax Reform Pledge should be the standard conservatives use in the House and Senate when entering negotiations. They should “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses” and “oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.” If they want to eliminate deductions, they need to do so using dynamic scoring to allow economic growth to raise revenue in years two and three of any tax reform package. Any deal should not raise one cent of revenue, i.e. taxes, in the first year.

The administration is also expected to request an extension of unemployment benefits and the Doc Fix, the reimbursement rate for Medicare participants. Conservatives need to make sure liberals find cuts to pay for this new spending.

Debt limit hiked again

One emerging issue for the post-election lame-duck session of Congress is an expected request by the Obama administration for a hike in the debt ceiling. Conservatives need to make sure that this debate is divorced from the tax-and-spending issues. If they are all mixed together, the final deal will be a disaster for conservatives.

Bottom line, let’s go to war on liberal ideas that grow government, increase taxes and increase the lending authority for administration officials if they refuse to agree to specific, deep, immediate cuts to spending programs.

Brian Darling is Senior Fellow for Government Studies at The Heritage Foundation (heritage.org).