House Republicans should either offer a balanced budget or retire

Neil Patel Co-Founder and Publisher, The Daily Caller
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House Republicans are reportedly going to release their new budget next week. The big question is whether the Republican budget will be a balanced budget. For all the talk about their newfound fiscal responsibility, Washington Republicans have yet to introduce a single budget that meets the simple test of balancing over 10 years. That doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

America has now borrowed more money than our entire economy creates in a year — over $15 trillion. The fact that our national debt is larger than our economy is widely seen as a sign that we have crossed the line separating fiscal sanity from complete recklessness. We are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments on our debt. We will soon be paying $1 trillion per year in interest payments, as the debt and interest rates rise.

Unless Washington can get our finances in order, America as we have known it will be a thing of the past. We will end up like Greece: a country faced with a stagnant economy, massive and destabilizing cuts driven by bondholders and the risk of default, extremely high interest rates and a reduced role in the world. The fault will lie in equal parts with an American public that has grown fat and happy on government entitlements and on a political class that has lacked the will and political courage to lead voters on a more responsible path. After failing many tests of political courage, Washington Republicans have one more shot in the coming weeks.

Talk of fiscal responsibility has increased among Republicans in Washington over the past couple of years. The Ryan budget from last year was a big improvement. The Cut, Cap and Balance proposal that Republicans came up with during the debt debate was also a much better plan than they had been previously willing to support. And after years of overseeing massive government growth, Republican leaders these days repeatedly claim that they finally “get it.” They say they have learned their lessons and gone back to the party’s basic beliefs in small government and fiscal responsibility. Have they really? We will find out next week when the new Republican budget comes out.

Budgets in Washington are 10-year documents, so asking for balance is not a very radical notion. It may be impossible to balance the budget next year, but 10 years from now? That should be doable, especially since revenues are not a problem and no tax increases are needed. Revenues over the coming 10-year period are already forecast to rise above their historical average. A responsible policymaker not wedded to the overwhelming and inefficient system that we currently have should be able to cut spending, cut future taxes and still balance the budget over 10 years.

After contributing to our problems for years, if Washington Republicans still lack the political will to act responsibly and come up with such a plan, then voters will know that they don’t in fact “get it.” Conceding that we can’t get our finances in order over a whole decade is conceding to future bankruptcy and the end of the American era. That should not be an option.

Neil Patel is the co-founder and publisher of The Daily Caller. He was previously chief policy advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney.