A leadership default
Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution reads, “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” Article I, Section 8 reads that the Congress shall have the power “To borrow Money on the credit of the United States.”
Some have proposed that the president can authorize the U.S. Treasury to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally under Section 4 of Amendment XIV to the Constitution, which reads, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” Proponents of this solution fail to read Section 5 of Amendment XIV, “The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
As a representative democracy, we the people have given authority to our elected representatives, specifically House members, to govern and make the difficult decisions required to maintain the full faith and credit of our nation. The can we have kicked down the yellow brick road is more worn than stimulus-funded resurfaced asphalt. One of the $350,000 federally funded snow plows may have eaten the can.
Since politicians are always thinking of the next election, they need a reminder from you that they must balance both sides of the ledger. There are not enough millionaires and billionaires available to confiscate their wealth.
The House passed “Cut, Cap and Balance,” aka HR 2560, a 10-page bill that proposes to cut spending in FY2012 by $ 111 Billion. Exemptions were included for Social Security, Medicare, veteran’s benefits and interest on the nation’s debt. The cap includes limitations on spending as a percentage of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) and a requirement for a two-thirds majority vote to approve any tax increase.
The balance includes a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution while raising the nation’s authorized credit card limit from $ 14.3 trillion to $ 16.7 trillion.
The “gang of six,” three Republican senators and three Democrat senators, propose changing the definition of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), wherein “savings” will occur in out years by reducing the growth of expenditures and additional future unspecified gamesmanship. Enhanced revenue, read that as tax increases, are proposed but left undefined. And where is the president of the United States in this debate? What field is he playing on? I forgot, the golf course since we have an election coming up.
What leadership requires
Leadership requires honest communication that the federal government is spending almost $2 for every $1 collected in tax revenue. The June 2011 monthly deficit was $43 billion. Leadership requires telling seniors that politicians have overpromised and likely will create a system where your Social Security check will increase, albeit very slowly, not as quickly as prices will rise. Leadership requires informing citizens that the U.S. Treasury is buying back our own debt from foreign banks and Wall Street, merely days or weeks after these entities finance our spending spree.
Leadership requires telling the American people that paying back the principal on the nation’s credit card has not even been discussed. Leadership requires telling the American people that interest rates will rise, and paying the interest on our nation’s debt will become more difficult. Leadership requires addressing inflation through proposing balancing revenues and expenditures, not as a historic percentage of GDP (which continues deficit spending), but in real terms.
We must reduce FY2012 spending by $1.3 trillion. This can be done.
Leadership requires promoting and encouraging personal responsibility, not creation of a new commission to study or recommend changes. Leadership requires telling the American people that they were fooled by Congress when they claimed $100 billion in savings when the FY2011 budget was finally approved. Leadership requires telling the American people that we have borrowed the money in the Social Security Lock Box and the money in the Federal Employees Retirement Lock Box to give the appearance of normalcy.
Leadership requires telling the American people the “pay as you go” model on entitlements must be reformed. Leadership requires passing a bill in New Mexico to adjust the Medicare and Medicaid eligibility requirements. Leadership requires telling the American people that every dollar in tax revenue collected by the government to be redistributed or spent for collective good is one less dollar employed in the private sector where jobs are created.
We have a default not in the American people, not in our full faith and credit, but a default of leadership in Washington. This default in leadership on both sides of the aisle will cause great changes to occur, changes in the future role of government and a reawakening in the individual power and resilience of the American people.
Tom Mullins is a Farmington resident, professional petroleum engineer, and former candidate for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District.