With the fiscal cliff deal signed into law, the nation’s attention now turns to the debt ceiling debate, scheduled to hit in the next two months. As America reaches the debt ceiling yet again – an unbelievable $16.4 trillion debt ceiling needs another increase in order to allow us to borrow more cash to pay our bills – Republicans insist that we finally begin dealing with our spending problem. That, of course, was the purpose of the fiscal cliff deal in the first place: to preserve as many of the Bush tax rates as possible, consider tax rates a finished issue, and move on to spending cuts. As Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on ABC’s This Week, “The tax issue is finished, over, completed. That’s behind us. Now the question is: what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that’s our spending addiction.”
Not so fast.
The bullies in the Democratic Party have no intention of cutting a single dollar. Instead, they want to tighten their stranglehold on the windpipes of job producers and entrepreneurs. This morning, virtually every Democrat on virtually every Sunday show said the same thing: no cuts, more taxes. So much for the Republican attempt to take the tax discussion off the table.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi led the way, telling CBS’ Face the Nation that the historically enormous tax increases just enshrined in law aren’t enough: “The President had originally said he wanted $1.6 trillion in revenue. He took it down to $1.2 trillion as a compromise in this legislation. We get $620 billion, very significant, high-end tax, changing the high-end tax rate to 39.6 percent, but that is not enough on the revenue side.” Pelosi said that the Obama regime had already made cuts to social programs like Medicare – a position the Obama re-election campaign denied repeatedly. She added that there would be no change to Medicare’s eligibility age, and wouldn’t allow cost of living adjustments to Social Security payments. And she concluded that any link between raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending wouldn’t happen: “I don’t think those two things should be related.” She went so far as to say that she’d unilaterally raise the debt ceiling in violation of the Constitution if she were president.
To bolster her argument on taxes, Pelosi didn’t actually cite statistics on economic development or job creation. Instead, she went directly to the thug tactic of labeling her opposition “an over-the-edge crowd” of “anti-government ideologues” who are “hard to understand.” Because wanting to cut spending when you’re running a national debt the size of the combined national debts of the entire European Union is out of the mainstream, and makes you a nut.
It’s not just Pelosi playing this ridiculous game. Democrat after Democrat claimed that taxes need to be increased, even if that stifles job production, even if no tax increase of any magnitude could come close to repaying our national debt.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) appeared on Fox News Sunday to explain, “If [Republicans insist on spending cuts without tax increases], it’s going to be a recipe for more gridlock. We have to take a balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction.” We are already at the vaunted Clinton tax rates Democrats love so much. But the notion that those rates were the Democrats’ goal was a canard. Now the Democrats want to move the goalposts again.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined CNN’s State of the Union to push the same message. “I can tell you that there are still deductions, credits, special treatments under the tax code which ought to be looked at very carefully,” he said. “I think we need to open our minds on tax revenue.”
And, of course, President Obama in his weekly address said that negotiating over the debt ceiling was a “dangerous game” he would “not compromise over.” One of his officials said that he will “definitely not” come to the negotiating table. Because the essence of the Constitutional system is the president ignoring the Constitutional system.
But some Republicans already show signs of caving on the debt ceiling. They seem unwilling to allow America to go into government shutdown in order to pay its debts – America will not default, it will simply shut down non-essential government services. But Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), head of the Republican Study Committee, wouldn’t answer when asked on Fox News Sunday if Republicans would force Obama to choose between cuts and hitting the debt ceiling. “What I won’t support is not dealing with the problem,” he stated. “This is Lucy [and] Charlie Brown [and] the football.” He seemed cowed with Van Hollen imitated Pelosi’s thug tactics by suggesting that hitting the debt ceiling was “the madman theory to negotiations.”
But Tea Party leaders are ready to rumble. Sen. Ted Cruz took the lead this morning on Fox News Sunday. “I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise,” said the newly-sworn-in Senator.
What America needs is responsible fiscal policy, not demagoguery. They won’t find that from Democrats or the Republicans who cave to them.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, and author of the upcoming book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).