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Monday, June 27, 2011

Cut, Cap, and Balance

Barbara Anderson's CLT Commentary

Citizens for Limited Taxation has been working with the National Taxpayers Union for over thirty years on a federal Balanced Budget Amendment. I am presently on the board of directors of the National Taxpayer Union, which is urging that the BBA become part of the negotiations on raising the national debt ceiling.

Below is a memo sent to NTU members late last week, addressing the national debt issue. If you agree with it, as I do, please call your U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senators Kerry and Brown, especially Senator Scott Brown who might actually care what we say.

From the NTU:

Federal spending is out of control. Over the last decade, Presidents and lawmakers from both parties have triggered an explosion in our national debt from $5.8 trillion to more than $14.4 trillion – nearly a 150 percent increase! As our leaders in Washington continue negotiations over the debt limit, NTU needs YOUR help to make sure we solve this problem once and for all.

Our President and his allies keep ignoring the danger signs that America’s fiscal policy is failing. In recent weeks the Administration has been encouraging Congress to rush through an increase to the debt ceiling of $2 trillion or more. That strategy is nothing more than a naked attempt to allow Washington to rack up trillions in new deficit spending without any structural reforms. As NTU President Duane Parde has asked, “What good is increasing the debt ceiling if nothing is done to curb the reckless spending that will perpetually test any limit on borrowing, no matter how high?”

To fight back, NTU, along with a broad coalition of conservative groups, have three demands that must be met before agreeing to any increase in the debt ceiling:

1.  Cut – Immediate and substantial cuts must be made to reign in our deficit in the short term;

2.  Cap – Durable statutory spending caps must be passed that would reduce federal spending to its historic range of 18-20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and

3.  Balance – The House and Senate must send to the states for ratification a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that contains a spending limitation and a “super-majority” vote requirement in Congress for raising taxes.

House and Senate leaders appear ready to ignore these commonsense fixes and agree to a debt limit increase in return for relatively modest spending cuts. That’s simply not enough. Without structural changes like a Balanced Budget Amendment, Washington will continue to throw money it doesn’t have at problems it only manages to make worse.

We must remind the folks in Washington that the debt ceiling has already been raised 10 times in the past 10 years.

Each agreement to increase the limit has come with promises that the federal government will get its house in order, that this time things will be different, but every year the promises get broken and business as usual continues.

America can no longer afford such backsliding. Using realistic assumptions about future policies, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projects that debt as a share of GDP would soar beyond its historical peak by 2023 and would reach 190 percent in 2035. To ensure that taxpayers are protected over the long term, NTU is working hard to make spending restraint and a Balanced Budget Amendment part of any debt limit compromise. But make no mistake – this is THE major, unified push that fiscal conservatives will be making in connection with the debt ceiling vote. If you intend to act at all on this issue, NOW is the time! Contact your Representatives and Senators TODAY.

Barbara Anderson

Citizens for Limited Taxation    PO Box 1147    Marblehead, MA 01945    508-915-3665