‘Cut, Cap, Balance’ pledge ties conservative choices to debt ceiling vote

Amanda Carey Contributor
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As budget talks heat up in light of the looming July 4th recess, several conservative groups and lawmakers are coalescing around a pledge that cuts spending across the board, caps government spending, and includes a balanced budget amendment.

It’s called the “Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge” and it’s currently making its way through the corridors of Capitol Hill. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah was the first to sign his name to the pledge last week. But since then, Sens. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky have followed suit.

DeMint even went so far as to announce in a speech at the Republican Leadership Conference over the weekend, that he would not support any candidate who did not sign the pledge.

In the House, Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Joe Walsh of Illinois have signed the pledge.

By signing the pledge, lawmakers essentially promise not to vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it comes with the three-tiered package of spending cuts, caps, and a balanced budget amendment.

If it sounds like a hard sell, that’s because it is.

Coming fresh off a spring Continuing Resolution (CR) debate that almost resulted in a government shutdown, and in the midst of the seemingly unproductive, Vice President Biden-led budget talks, make-it-or break it deals like the Pledge will either have an impact or they will slowly fizzle.

But Colin Hanna of LetFreedomRing — one of the conservative groups sponsoring the pledge — believes it is “truly a golden moment” for a push to rein in federal spending and address the deficit.

“Our strategy is to make committing to support the three-part balanced budget amendment a precondition to raising the debt limit,” Hanna told The Daily Caller. “Some people have made fun of our efforts by suggesting that they’re insincere,” he added. “Those people simply haven’t read our proposal.”

Brian Philips, spokesperson for Sen. Lee, told TheDC that the point of getting the pledge out now is “to get members on the record supporting a legislative proposal that will fundamentally change the way Washington spends money.”

But Republican leadership in the Senate has been slow to embrace the pledge and some don’t even expect them to, though according to Hanna, they ignore it at “their own peril.”

Hanna was hesitant to name names of Republican senators who will or won’t sign on, noting that supporters would likely be in attendance at Wednesday’s official launch. He also said that LetFreedomRing will simultaneously release new polling data that shows the American public is behind the budget approach.

“If the people are behind it, their leaders had better,” said Hanna. “The public is fed up with the standard Washington deal-making process where every deal turns out to be less that it appears at first glance.”

“People are sick and tired of business as usual and the professionals better realize that,” he added.

A group of Republican and Democrat lawmakers have been in budget talks with Vice President Biden for weeks, though a deal before the August 2 deadline has yet to be reached. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said over the weekend that he would support a short-term extension of the debt ceiling should the limit be reached without a budget agreement.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center showed that 42 percent of Americans would view Republicans as being responsible should the debt limit be reached and the government has to stop borrowing money. Thirty-three percent of respondents said they would hold the Obama administration responsible.