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Op-ed Placement

Congress Should Pass Balanced Budget with ObamaCare Repeal

Originally Published in The Hill on 12/23/16.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul recently raised eyebrows when, in a op-ed for Time, he wrote that he would vote against a budget resolution that includes instructions to repeal ObamaCare through reconciliation if it does not balance.

Republicans have the best opportunity they will ever have to repeal ObamaCare, but Paul’s contention is that beginning the process through a budget that never balances sends the wrong message to taxpayers. His logic has merit.

During the midst of a fight over the debt ceiling in 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act, an idea proposed by the White House to trigger compulsory spending “cuts” if an agreement between President Barack Obama and House Republicans on deficit reduction could not be reached. The spending caps imposed by the Budget Control Act, also known as “sequestration,” was not a real spending cut in the true sense of the term. It did, however, slow the rate of spending increases.

Unfortunately, more than five years later, Congress has twice blown through spending caps mandated by the Budget Control Act. Many Republicans justify breaking the spending caps by arguing that compromises Democrats had control of the Senate, as was the case in December 2013, or because, even though Republicans regain control of the Senate, a Democrat was in the White House, which was the case with the most recent budget deal in October 2015 under then-Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

With an incoming Republican president and Republican control of Congress, now is the time to get serious about the budget deficit and the national debt. “That’s why I’m urging my colleagues and leaders to get serious about spending and the size of government, while also repealing ObamaCare,” Paul wrote in Time. “We don’t need to negotiate with Democrats to do it. We don’t need a single vote, which is good, because we aren’t going to get it.”