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An Open Letter to the United States Congress: Oppose the “Cut, Run, and Hide” Plan to Raise the Debt Ceiling!

July 15, 2011

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I strongly caution you against the “contingency plan” devised by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). This plan would abdicate Congress’ responsibility to the Constitution and to taxpayers by effectively giving the President unilateral power to increase the debt limit without binding, meaningful spending cuts or structural reforms to curb Washington’s profligacy. Far from the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” approach NTU has supported to put our nation on a sound fiscal footing, this “Cut, Run, and Hide” scheme would utterly fail to significantly change our unsustainable budgetary habits.

This past November, Americans clearly expressed their displeasure with massive overspending and resulting trillion-dollar deficits. Unfortunately, Senator McConnell’s plan relies on complex gimmickry to obscure the fact that it would immediately authorize hundreds of billions in additional debt without enforceable reductions in spending. Our $14.3 trillion debt and our $1.6 trillion overspending problem demand real solutions now, not procedural ploys to lay blame and avoid the hard work of trimming expenditures.

Our nation is on a collision course with a painful crisis, not because of inaction on the debt limit but because of intransigence on making necessary adjustments to spending programs. As debt skyrockets relative to the size of our economy, several bond agencies have warned that the U.S. faces a downgrade from its current “AAA” rating unless leaders make a credible effort to regain control of deficit spending and reckless borrowing in the near future. Unfortunately, the McConnell plan contains nothing that would require serious fiscal consolidation moving forward. It would stipulate that President Obama submit a list of spending reductions equal to the amount of the near-automatic debt ceiling increase, but nothing would compel Congress to enact or even consider his outline. Furthermore, even proposed modifications, such as a Congressionally-chartered commission to review spending, leave ample room for dodging critically-needed decisions on outlay levels.

Simply stated, a vote for the McConnell plan is a vote to add more than $2 trillion in debt without the promise (or the prospect) of substantive policy changes in return. Furthermore, it would do so by granting unwarranted authority to the President. Senator McConnell himself once vigorously defended earmarks on the basis that Congress should not cede control over less than $20 billion to the Executive Branch; how strange and incongruous to now hold that it should cede control over $2.4 trillion.

The McConnell plan will not put America on a sustainable fiscal path. NTU urges all Members of Congress to strenuously oppose it. Roll call votes on this proposal will be among the most heavily-weighted of the year in our annual Rating of Congress.

Andrew Moylan
Vice President of Government Affairs