How Conservatives Forced GOP Leadership to Move on Ten-Year Balanced Budget

The idea now supported by House GOP leadership that a budget should balance within ten years originally came from conservative leaders in the House and from Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, and the Family Research Council.

On January 15, Michael Needham, Chris Chocola, and Tony Perkins—the heads of those three conservative groupsurged House GOP leadership to support a budget that balances in 10 years. “Very simply, we can quickly jump-start our economy and improve the lives of millions of Americans by insisting that Washington not raise the debt ceiling unless our nation gets on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years that stays balanced,” they wrote in a Politico op-ed.

A couple days later, Needham’s Heritage Action published a “Memo for the Conservative Movement” which had a top line calling for a 10-year balancing budget.

On January 18, a group of current and former chairmen of the conservative Republican Study Committee called for the same thing. Needham backed that call, asking for House leadership, including Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, “to publicly honor this agreement.”

It was not until several days later, on January 22, that Boehner backed the idea of a budget that balanced within 10 years. “It’s time for us to come to a plan that will in fact balance the budget over the next 10 years,” Boehner said at a press conference then. “It’s our commitment to the American people, and we hope the Senate will do their budget as they should have done over the last four years.”

Even though this idea that is now embraced by GOP leadership originated in the conservative movement, GOP leadership, through a Politico story published late Monday evening, appears to be trying to rewrite its history.

The Politico piece, written by Jake Sherman, argues that a late February internal National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) poll GOP leadership conducted prompted the decision by House leaders to latch onto a 10-year balanced budget idea. “But the message of bringing the federal government’s books into balance — the central idea behind the Wisconsin lawmaker’s [Rep. Paul Ryan] 2014 spending plan — was quietly tested in 18 competitive House races in a late-February poll by the National Republican Congressional Committee,” Sherman wrote. “It was a winning argument across a broad swath of politically moderate — and nearly split — districts.”

Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler told Breitbart News on Tuesday that conservatives did not need that NRCC poll to know the balanced budget idea is popular. “Conservatives did not need a poll to understand balancing the budget makes for good politics,” Holler said. “More importantly though, getting on a path to balance forces action on the types of reforms our country so desperately needs. You cannot balance if Obamacare is the law of the land. You cannot balance as Medicare spirals towards bankruptcy.  With this playbook in hand, the House must fight to enact the policy reforms necessary to achieve a 10-year balance and attach them to any future increases in the debt ceiling.”

Sherman cites several senior GOP sources, including Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, for his story. Steel’s quote in the story is nearly identical to the argument Needham, Chocola, and Perkins made in favor of the 10-year balancing budget months ago in what sparked leadership to embrace the idea in the first place. "A balanced budget will help get our economy growing and create more jobs — making life better for the American people,” Steel said. “In the 1990s, President [Bill] Clinton embraced a balanced budget, and it’s a proud part of his legacy. But today, Washington Democrats — led by President Obama — insist on trillion-dollar tax hikes and still never, ever balance the budget.”

In his story, Sherman did not include details about how the 10-year balanced budget idea originated with conservatives.


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