Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Republicans’ Debt Limit Ideas Are Common Sense, Not “Wacko”

The old lawyers’ adage instructs that “if you have the facts on your side, pound the facts; if you have the law on your side, pound the law; if you have neither the facts nor the law, pound the table.” The adage aptly describes how President Joe Biden — an old lawyer if ever there was one — responded to House Republicans’ debt limit bill last week when he called it full of “wacko notions.”

What to Biden and the radical left seems “wacko” sounds to much of America like simple common sense. The House Republicans’ debt limit bill wouldn’t balance the budget, but it would make a good start on fixing the fiscal train wreck that big spending by both parties in recent years has left the next generation.

What’s So ‘Wacko’ About These Ideas?

It’s worth examining the major components of the legislation, to see exactly what the left might object to.

Lowering Spending: The bill would lower spending on the federal discretionary budget — that’s the part of the budget that covers things like the military and most domestic programs, but not Medicare or Social Security — all the way back to the levels of… the fiscal year that ended last Sept. 30. Remember: This “reduction” in spending, which seems so slight to even call it that, comes after lawmakers ran up $4.8 trillion in new debt over the past two years alone.

Slowing the Rate of Growth: The bill would allow discretionary spending to grow at 1 percent for the coming decade. (Again, this provision would not apply to Medicare or Social Security.) If ever there were a way for leftist politicians to get serious about fighting inflation, capping the growth of the federal government might be the perfect way to do so.

Prohibiting Student Loan Giveaways: The bill would take away the (legally questionable) authority of the president to enact his student “loan forgiveness” programs, which are currently pending in court. Only Congress should have the power to enact programs that could cost more than $1 trillion. (But given the way these “forgiveness” programs will exacerbate inflation, Congress shouldn’t enact them either.)

Ending Climate Pork: The bill would repeal many climate subsidies included in last year’s Inflation (Reduction) Act. For a party that frequently inveighs against “corporate welfare,” Democrats rush to abandon those principles the second anyone mentions the “climate crisis.” But if affluent individuals want to buy expensive Teslas, they can do so with their own money — not federal taxpayers’. And if companies want to create new jobs in so-called “green” industries, great — they just shouldn’t have to suck at the federal teat to do so.

Preventing Internal Revenue Service Harassment: The bill would rescind the $80 billion in Internal Revenue Service funding the IRS wants to use to hire 87,000 new employees. The best argument against this funding comes from the fact that even a liberal think-tank agrees that the IRS engaged in negligence for failing to pursue a repayment from President Biden regarding his questionable tax schemes. Does anyone think ordinary Americans will get similar kid-glove treatment from the IRS that wealthy elites such as Biden did?

Promoting Work: The bill would expand requirements that able-bodied individuals participating in certain federal programs either work or engage in activities to prepare for work. A non-binding poll in Wisconsin earlier this month — held on the same day that a liberal won a statewide election to the Supreme Court — saw nearly four in five voters approve of this concept.

Restoring Checks and Balances: The bill would give Congress a greater say over major regulations proposed by an administration. This provision would make it tougher for the administrative state to create policies so extreme (e.g., banning gas stoves) that the left tries to enact them via the back door of unelected bureaucrats rather than through the people’s elected representatives in Congress.

Expanding American Energy: Gas prices remain well above $3.50 per gallon nationwide and are more than 50 percent higher than the $2.31 average when Biden took office. Need I say more?

Restore Fiscal Sanity to Washington

Sure, one might quibble with some of the details here and there. Personally, I would try to go further when it comes to restoring fiscal discipline. But the bill represents a good first step, and (at long last) movement in the right direction after years of spending gone amok during the pandemic.

As to the fact that Biden said the bill contained “wacko notions,” consider the source. Recall that Biden has been deep in the fever swamps of Washington for more than half a century. To perpetual swamp creatures like Biden, reducing federal spending — even by $1 — seems “wacko.” To the rest of America, it sounds like a refreshing bout of sanity from a town that usually has precious little in supply.

This post was originally published at The Federalist.