And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men of good will. Luke 2:1-14
“Elections have consequences.” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, co-chair of bipartisan budget committee, about the compromise recommendations that are causing some Republicans to get their bells in a jingle.
Pardon my lack of interest in seasonal political correctness that requires good will to ALL men. I shall wish peace only to “men of good will”, including U.S. senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, as well as Rep. Paul Ryan, Speaker John Boehner, Heritage Action, Club for Growth and tea party activists like me. The phrase includes all members of Congress who deplore the $17 trillion national debt, those who voted no this month on the budget committee compromise, on principle, and those who voted yes because of practical concerns about shutting down the government again and hurting Republican chances of taking the House and the Senate in the 2014 election.
I refuse to choose sides. OK, if I were your elected representative in Washington, D.C., I’d vote with Cruz/Paul/Rubio and all who try to keep their tea party pledge not to increase the deficit/national debt. I’d have voted to repeal Obamacare in October because it is going to add to the debt no matter what Obama says. I don’t care if the government shuts down until it shapes up, because if we don’t do something soon, it will collapse on all of us, including the needy who are already on the bottom of the pile.
But I won’t join in any attack on the more practical men of good will, who recognize that voters don’t yet understand how serious the budget/debt/economic situation is, who believe that we must be patient with those whose votes in 2008 and 2012 led to the current and coming consequences. Soon, they think, these voters will wake up and help us win in 2014 and 2016.
In case you’ve been distracted by holiday preparations, I’ll catch you up here: A bipartisan budget committee of the House and Senate, led by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington), offered a compromise budget plan that prevents a government shutdown into 2015, changing the previous “sequester” agreement to allow an additional $65 billion in spending, up to an additional $1.012 trillion, increasing both the deficit and the national debt, with a promise to reduce spending eventually. The package does raise $6 billion from fees and some pension adjustments.
I rushed through those numbers because they are meaningless. The country doesn’t have an additional $1.012 trillion to spend. It takes in only $3 trillion in tax revenues for the entire existing almost $4 trillion budget, roughly $300 billion of which goes to service the existing debt, so the government will have to borrow by raising the debt ceiling, which is another battle coming again soon.
One reason they wanted to change the “sequester” was to prevent defense spending cuts that some Republicans don’t want; in return, they’re getting new protections for military victims of sexual assault, which I’d have thought was illegal and, therefore, already covered by existing military spending. The budget also extends Medicare payment rates so that doctors don’t drop Medicare patients while dropping Medicaid patients on their way to retiring early to escape Obamacare, which with any luck will self-destruct while taking down legislators who voted for it.
So you can see, there is no reason for conservatives to be fighting with each other over who did or did not vote for the bipartisan compromise. The important thing is to not distract voters from the constant repetition of news clips showing Obama promising we could all keep our health insurance and doctors if we liked them. As my dad taught me, don’t lie: If you get caught, you’ll never get your credibility back. So, things are looking up for Republicans who need to keep the president from doing too much more damage to the country in the three years remaining in his job.
As Paul Ryan said, “Elections have consequences,” and he should know. He ran for vice president, alongside Mitt Romney, arguing for his earlier budgets that more seriously addressed deficits and the national debt. Sadly, most voters preferred to do this the hard way.
Just today I received two mailings: one was from Sen. Cruz, containing a fiscal conservative priorities poll created by The Club for Growth, which was one of the groups attacked last week by Speaker Boehner for attacking his support of the Ryan compromise. The other mailing was from Speaker Boehner, with a fiscal conservative priorities survey, pretty much the same questions, about balanced budgets, repealing Obamacare, reform the tax code, etc. I say, prioritize fiscal responsibility. I’m with Cruz, Boehner, all these men of good will. I’m with the grass-roots Tea Party.
There’s no time for rhetoric about RINOs, whatever that means, or primary threats, or talk show ranting. We have one election cycle to pull together and turn things around: Merry Christmas to all who are focused on this goal.
Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.