Why trust any budget deal after 2011's $2.1 trillion debt hike ripoff?

The 2011 $2.1 trillion debt limit hike was a ripoff. The new plan has no spending safeguards and gives super borrowing powers to Obama. Photo: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON—October 18, 201 – This is Obama’s Nirvana!

The new budget deal passed by the government this week breaks an enormous promise to the public, destroys long-time safeguards over spending, and grants the President almost total control over the full faith and credit of the United States.


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It breaches the trillion-dollar promises to control spending made only two years ago.

Why should anybody trust today’s promises when those 2011 promises had such a short shelf life? The issues and threats were the same as they were this year, namely prospects of a government shutdown and of defaulting on the federal debt.

Agreement came sooner that time, as President Obama and Congress raised the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion. They also promised to match the increase dollar-for-dollar by reducing spending by $2.1 trillion.

This week’s budget deal becomes the means to dissolve that spending restraint. President Obama and Democrats are openly pushing and succeeding they say in ending the limits from the 2011 agreement. And too few Republicans are resisting.


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Those spending cuts, known as the sequester, were already gimmicky.

In the first place, while the $2.1 trillion was borrowed and spent right away, the spending reductions were to be spread out over 10 years. That’s not a genuine one-to-one; it’s one-to-ten.

In the second place, the sequester was not spending cuts as everyday people define them. It’s actually spending increases, but at a lower rate than was planned. It’s like only driving 20 mph over the speed limit rather than 30 mph over.

There’s even a third place: The sequester was back-loaded. It presumed that elected officials of the future would be more disciplined at controlling spending than today’s politicians. The first year of the 10-year sequester plan—last year—didn’t produce 10% of the savings, namely $210-billion. Instead, it produced only $85-billion in “savings,” which is only 4%.


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Even though the sequester concept originated with his White House, President Obama now routinely denounces it, as do most Democrats. Republicans are mixed in their approach to the sequester, although House leaders have mostly come to embrace it as the only thing that helps hold spending in check even though it doesn’t reduce spending.

Once they cashed in and spent that $2.1 trillion increase in debt, President Obama and a host of Senators and Congressmen developed amnesia. They got what they wanted so now they don’t even remember promising any fiscal restraint. They spent the money and want no part of the discipline.

We can expect a repeat performance once they spend this year’s increase in the debt limit. All promises of future restraint will evaporate. That’s why it’s so dangerous to give Obama expanded authority to borrow money without needing approval from Congress. Checks and balance require that Congress must have the ability to negotiate and extract concessions as a condition to that approval. But they won’t have it under the new plan.

National debt has risen more than $6 trillion so far during Barack Obama’s Presidency, even before he gets unchecked borrowing power.

This 2013 agreement allows unlimited borrowing for the next few months. That will include money for the Treasury Department to pay back the money it’s taken out of federal retirement funds since May—probably over $250 billion—because it couldn’t go out and borrow it.

Obama gets his wish of not having to negotiate conditions in order to borrow. The historic safeguard requires Congress to approve a credit limit in advance. The new protocol lets a President borrow unless Congress passes legislation to disapprove. Simply by vetoing that legislation, a President can borrow whatever he wants unless two-thirds of Congress then votes to stop him.

These details are only now coming to light. The details of the 2011 agreement have been known, but amazingly there’s been little public talk about whether it would be thrown overboard. That’s because a great many politicians want to escape any tough decisions of holding the line on spending.

Only in Washington, DC can a $2 trillion promise be treated as something that’s easy to ignore.

There were 269 House members who voted for that $2.1 trillion package in 2011: 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats. In the Senate it received 74 votes: 45 Democrats and 28 Republicans. Most of them are still in Congress. And of course President Obama is still around.

We should ask them, press them and demand of them that they keep their commitments. They already got the money and they already spent the $2.1 trillion. Why should we trust them with any more borrowed money? Especially since it’s borrowed from our children!

Political promises evaporate quickly. It’s borrow and spend now—or tax and spend now—and we promise to make spending cuts starting tomorrow. That tomorrow never comes, but the tomorrow when the bills arrive will get here eventually.

 


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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

Contact Ernest Istook

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