The debt ceiling debate has dominated national news headlines for a few days now, most notably with Barack Obama telling Majority Leader Eric Cantor that he was bluffing before walking out of negotiations yesterday.
It's a tough issue for conservatives who are in no mood to rack up more debt on the national credit card, but also are aware of potentially devastating consequences if they don't raise the limit.
Considering the difficult decision, we wanted to hear the views from leading Colorado conservatives on whether Congress should raise the debt ceiling if sufficient cuts in government programs are extracted from the White House.
There is one school of thought, enunciated most clearly by Michele Bachmann in a recent TV ad running in Iowa, that the debt ceiling shouldn't be raised no matter what.
Others have said that if adequate long term cuts can be achieved courtesy of the leverage that the debt ceiling vote gives, then a yes vote is the responsible one. So we posed the question to a few conservative luminaries here in Colorado, and received intriguing feedback.
The state Senate GOP caucus has also weighed in on the debate. You can find their open letter to Colorado's Congressional delegation after the jump.
We will update this post as responses come in.
The question posed was: Would you personally support the increase of the debt ceiling if, as part of the deal, Republicans are able to win $2 Trillion in bona fide deficit reduction in entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and discretionary spending?
David Harsanyi: "Sure. Unless as "part of the deal" you mean giving in to Obama's irresponsible and seemingly pathological need to include tax increases. Like the majority of Americans, my preference is not to raise the debt ceiling. But it’s unrealistic to believe that will happen."
Mike Rosen: "If you're talking about a ten year deal, no. $2 trillion over ten years isn't enough. That's only an average of $200 billion a year. By 2021, that'll be a drop in the bucket. $4 trillion is a minimum starting point. Moreover, I'm skeptical about any promises from Obama and the Democrats about social spending cuts 10 years out. That's not the way the congressional budget process works. I'd also have to see what the Democrats want in tax increases."
Jason Worley: "2 trillion, of course I'd favor an increase if there was REAL savings. That is a no brainer. I seriously doubt that the Dems will swallow that pill though. The other question is two trillion over how long? 5 years yeah, 10 years, not so much."
Ken Clark: “If the cuts are over five years then we have cut 400 billion a year and we now only have an annual deficit of just over 1.2 trillion dollars, so after five years we have a debt of 19 trillion dollars. If the cuts are over ten years, then we have cut 200 billion a year and have an annual deficit of 1.4 trillion dollars, so after ten years our debt is 28 trillion. What have we really won? By not raising the deb ceiling we are forcing the government to live within its means. That has to happen at some point as the numbers glaringly point out, so the question remains, when are we really going to do something to avoid the impending catastrophe? I say we do it now and take the pain now, the longer we wait the more painful it will be. Do not raise the debt ceiling.”
Sarah Anderson: “Frankly, the best thing for this country would be to “default” (which we all known won’t be as bad as the President keeps claiming, we’ve already passed one deadline and survived just fine). We cannot compromise with raising the debt ceiling, because it just delays the inevitable…something we’ve been doing for decades now. We must come to terms with the spending problem America has, address it now and absolutely, under no circumstances, raise the debt ceiling.”
Perry Buck: “Personally I do not like deals – what sounds good sometimes does not happen in the end. I would support a $2 trillion bona fide deficit reduction program first before I could support any debt increase. Might be impossible that way but I do not trust government much right now.”
Ken Buck: “No, the US has $14.3 trillion of debt and a $1.5 trillion annual deficit. It is too late to start a discussion about $2 trillion of long term cuts. Congress has to do their job and pass a budget and the administration has to live within the amounts allocated by Congress. It makes more sense to me to tell the President that next year the executive branch can spend $3 trillion dollars instead of $3.5 trillion. In 2013 the executive can spend $3.0 trillion, and so on until there is a balanced budget. Require the President to submit a budget within the allocated amount and only raise the debt limit each year to cover the allocated amount. If the administration runs out of money then all non-essential services must be suspended.
The primary reason I can’t support the strategy being adopted in Washington is because we can’t rely on DC politicians for promises of long term cuts; see Graham-Rudman and Paygo. Whatever short term plan is adopted it is clear that this country needs a balanced budget amendment so we do not face this problem again. May God bless America.”
After we hear back from our full list of conservative luminaries, we’ll weigh on this issue. But we thought it was important to first give our readers a sense of conservative opinion in Colorado on the issue.
Open Letter to the Colorado Congressional Delegation
Senator Michael Bennett
Senator Mark Udall
Rep. Diana DeGette
Rep. Ed Perlmutter
Rep. Cory Gardner
Rep. Mike Coffman
Rep. Scott Tipton
Rep. Doug Lamborn
Rep. Jared Polis
From: Colorado Senate Republicans
Re: Raising the Federal Debt Ceiling
Congress is facing a decision that will affect all Coloradans, indeed, all Americans, for possibly decades to come. The issue is a simple one – how to raise the federal debt ceiling without simultaneously fueling more unsustainable, unfunded growth in government.
Back in May, President Obama insisted on a “clean debt ceiling bill,” one that did not include spending cuts. Republicans in Congress insist there must be some credible attack on excessive spending, which must include entitlement reform. Now Obama is insisting that tax increases must be part of any bipartisan deal.
We believe the call for more taxes to balance the budget is a cop-out: The federal government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and the American people understand that.
We believe the top priority – what Americans of all political persuasions want to see – is for Congress to end its addiction to deficit spending by adopting significant cuts in the 2012 budget and substantial reductions in the out-year budgets as well. Congress must do that in a way that spurs economic growth instead of suffocating it-and that means not raising taxes.
We share the public’s view that the upcoming vote on raising the debt ceiling is the best chance Congress will have to adopt meaningful spending reductions. It would be the height of folly to continue the business-as-usual practice of raising the debt ceiling without simultaneously addressing deficit spending.
Whatever “deal” needs to be struck in this matter, there is one principle that must be a honored in that deal: Congress must not raise taxes in the middle of the worst recession in more than 50 years. The last thing Coloradans need is a tax increase.
In Colorado we balance the budget each year because the state constitution requires it. We do not finance annual expenditures — or “public investments” — by borrowing against our children’s future. It is likely that Congress needs a similar constitutional mandate.
We are at a historic crossroads. Either Congress will face its addiction to deficit spending and reverse course, or it will continue on the irresponsible path of dumping insurmountable debt on our children and grandchildren. Continuing on that path is unacceptable to the people of Colorado.
We therefore urge you to vote for a spending reduction plan that is bold and honest, which is free of accounting gimmicks, and which does not raise taxes.
Senate Minority Leader
Senate District 22
Assistant Minority Leader
Senate District 10
Senate Republican Caucus Chair
Senate District 4
Senate Minority Whip
Senate District 13
Senate District 1
Senate District 2
Senate District 30
Senate District 9
Senate District 15
Senate District 23
Senate District 12
Senate District 7
Senate District 6
Senate District 27
Senate District 8