The new Republican Congress faces a massive task — fixing the gargantuan mess left behind by Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats. The Democratic Congress of 2007-2011 is a monument to irresponsibility and incompetence. It started with grand promises to “drain the swamp” and get the nation’s debt under control. It left behind a swamp more fetid and stinking than ever and a completely out-of-control budget deficit.
I have to confess that I wasn’t entirely sure the new Republican majority would match its responsible words with actions. Fiscal conservatives had few reasons to celebrate during the last Republican Congress, and a whole lot of reasons to be disappointed. However, the first three weeks of the new majority have been incredibly encouraging.
First we saw small but symbolically important actions like the reduction of Congress’s budget. Important rule changes were made to make Congress function more efficiently and with greater transparency. The president’s atrocious healthcare legislation was repealed in the House, and Republican leaders have been proposing concrete measures to cut spending.
One of the most encouraging proposals so far came yesterday from the Republican Study Committee. This caucus of House conservatives proposed the “Spending Reduction Act of 2011.” The bill would cut federal spending by $2.5 trillion over the next ten years by holding non-defense discretionary spending to FY 2006 levels and non-security discretionary spending to FY 2008 levels. It would also eliminate 100 other programs ranging from the defunct Presidential Campaign Fund to the Appalachian Regional Commission.
In the last Congress, proposals like this were usually ignored and never voted on. Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a statement on the proposal saying, “I look forward to these cuts and others being brought to the House floor for an up-or-down vote.” This Congress is the first in a long time that is looking for ways to save rather than spend money, because it is facing the undeniable reality that so many past Congresses refused to face: our nation has spent far beyond its means for too long and continuing down this unsustainable path would be ruinous.
Our nation is at a crossroads, and our fiscal situation demands that Republicans maintain the fortitude they have shown in the first weeks of this Congress. It is equally important that the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Obama change course and emulate the bold actions of the new Republican majority.
They must choose between the fiscal recklessness that they have practiced and the fiscal responsibility that they promised. They must choose between confronting America’s problems and obstructing the efforts of others to do so. They must choose between protecting America’s future and mortgaging it.
Republicans in Congress have made the right decision so far. Let’s hope Senator Reid and President Obama join them.
Zach Howell is the Chairman of the College Republican National Committee. The CRNC is the nationally elected governing body for over 200,000 College Republicans and over 1,500 campus chapters. Zach sits in the same chair that Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, and Morton Blackwell once sat in. He holds a BS in Political Science from the University of Utah.