If the question on the budget and debt ceiling package is “Deal or No Deal?” taxpayers should clearly opt for the latter. While the agreement contains a few meritorious provisions, it fails to offer sufficient savings and structural reforms necessary to address our nation’s $18.1 trillion debt problem.
On the positive side, the bill offers substantive modifications to the Social Security Disability Insurance program, such as tightening eligibility requirements to combat fraud and closing certain expensive and unnecessary loopholes. Further, the package would make prudent reforms such as selling off additional spectrum, reducing agricultural subsidies, repealing the Obamacare auto-enrollment provision, and extending portions of the sequester into 2025.
However, these positives cannot possibly outweigh the negative components of the package. For instance, taxpayers should be strongly opposed to raising the budget caps by $80 billion over two years and adding $32 billion to the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which has become little more than an unaccountable slush fund for more military spending. Also, raising the debt ceiling through March 2017 without establishing the fiscal restraints necessary to balance the budget on a long-term basis is unacceptable. Overall, this budget deal perpetuates more unsustainable spending schemes without guaranteeing adequate cuts and reforms. Taxpayers should reject this package.
At the same time, we should be certain to avoid a scenario in which the federal government defaults on its debt payments or allows for a government shutdown. Such reckless brinkmanship would have a detrimental impact on our economy and demonstrate irresponsibility to the general public. Lawmakers should use all options at their disposal to responsibly and comprehensively address our fiscal challenges.
Fiscal conservatives need to display a strong desire to cut spending and resolve our nation’s critical debt problem along with a willingness to govern in a responsible fashion. This type of leadership and vision is needed on Capitol Hill more than ever.