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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

To control debt, review all options

Telegraph Editorial

Fiscal irresponsibility seems to remain a bipartisan affair.

Members of a Republican-led Congress have pitched a budget resolution this month to add $9.7 trillion of new debt over the next 10 years, a move that would increase the total shortfall to $29 trillion. ...

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Fiscal irresponsibility seems to remain a bipartisan affair.

Members of a Republican-led Congress have pitched a budget resolution this month to add $9.7 trillion of new debt over the next 10 years, a move that would increase the total shortfall to $29 trillion.

The resolution was justified as a step to replace the Affordable Care Act - Obamacare - and legislators needed to use a reconciliation process to pass new laws to repeal President Obama's signature measure. Under such a process, The Washington Examiner reports legislation called for under a budget resolution can be passed in the U.S. Senate with a simple majority vote to avoid a filibuster.

The resolution does exempt future GOP-sponsored legislation to replace Obamacare from budget rules designed to impose fiscal discipline, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. This means the resolution would permit possible tax/revenue cutbacks from an ACA repeal to possibly loop into its replacement program.

For a party that campaigned hard on slashing the federal debt, it would be a slap in the face to fiscal conservatives who are seeking reasonable solutions to balance the budget.

As Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said last week: "The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same."

The libertarian-leaning senator was quick to retort some of the GOP responses Monday, when they claimed the resolution is "not a budget" and merely a vehicle to repeal Obamacare.

"We have special rules when you pass the budget that we may be able to repeal Obamacare, and I'm all for that," Paul continued. "But why should we vote on a budget that doesn't represent our conservative view? Why would we vote on a budget that adds $9.7 trillion to the debt?"

Jim Rubens, a New Hampshire businessman, former state senator and former New Hampshire Republican Party platform committee chairman, called the budget resolution "an early indicator of collapsing GOP support for fiscal restraint" in a release.

Rubens brings his party to task for its evaporating budgetary restraint during the George W. Bush administration, saying fiscal conservatives have been locked in a windowless political basement.

"The only solution will be to bypass our debt-addicted Congress with a constitutional balanced budget amendment proposed under the Article V state-led process," Rubens concluded. "Thirty-four states are needed to launch; 28, including New Hampshire, are already onboard - six states to go."

A constitutional balanced budget amendment has long been a conservative dream, although many economists reject the proposal as unsound policy.

Opponents say implementing a balanced budget amendment disrupts safety net programs and purchasing power at state and local levels. Such an amendment could exacerbate recessions, as well.

Nevertheless, with Republicans seeking to add trillions more in debt over the next decade, a balanced budget amendment should at least be subject to a fair and bipartisan review to curb the reckless spending in Washington.