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Breaking: The massive Cut Cap Balance coalition, representing millions of fiscally conservative Americans, has just issued the following statement in strong opposition to the Boehner "debt & tax hike" plan. (At presstime, we have not received the complete list of all the groups that have signed this message; but we will do so ASAP.)
To: All Interested Parties
From: Members of the Cut, Cap, Balance Coalition
Re: Clarification of the CCB Coalition Stance on the Speaker’s Legislative Proposal
While we salute Speaker Boehner for his indefatigable efforts to forge some new agreement breaking the debt ceiling stalemate, we cannot support his latest package. It is both bad policy and a violation of the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge.
It is bad policy in that the commission the proposal empowers opens the door to tax increases — a door that the Speaker himself had previously, and courageously, insisted was shut.
Moreover, this plan offers no enduring protections against the well-known pattern of postponing spending cuts until years in the future, where they are subject to reduction, revision or total disappearance, while the debt ceiling increase takes effect immediately. Thus, the much-heralded ratio of cuts to increases at greater than one-to-one is likely to be illusory. It is also contrary to the spirit of the Pledge to separate a conforming Balanced Budget Amendment from the rest of the debt ceiling consideration.
The greatest concern to the Cut, Cap and Balance Coalition is the integrity of the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge that was signed by 39 House Members and 12 Senators and whether voting for the proposed deal constitutes a Pledge violation. We hold that is does violate the pledge, on several grounds:
Cuts: Although the Pledge does not specify a numerical threshold for immediate budget cuts, it says that "substantial" cuts are required "next year" and beyond. The Cut, Cap and Balance Act specified $111 Billion in FY 2012 cuts, while the Boehner plan's first-year cuts may be as low as $7 billion, according to former Congressman Ernest Istook of the Heritage Foundation, or even $6 billion, in other analyses — less than one day of federal government spending. In the context of a problem measured in the trillions of dollars, a cut of $7 billion is well short of the "substantial" standard.
Caps: Limiting the caps on spending to the one-third of the budget that is "discretionary" means that the entitlement reform that the ratings agencies demand is unlikely to occur. As a result, total federal spending is not really "capped" at all.
Balance: Allowing an increase in the debt ceiling without passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment, coupled with omitting the critically-important spending restraints and supermajority for new taxes from the definition of a conforming Balanced Budget Amendment, virtually assures that any vote would be, at best, a purely symbolic vote on a toothless amendment.
Finally, we want to address the argument proffered by some Members of Congress who have signed the CCB Pledge that voting for the Boehner bill is not a Pledge violation, because the proposed bill does not contain an explicit approval of a debt ceiling increase. This is fallacious on two counts: First, since only Congress has the Constitutional authority to authorize debt on behalf of the United States, if this bill does not actually authorize new debt, then it must be unconstitutional. Second, it specifies exact amounts of new debt that become authorized at certain points in time as a consequence of this bill. It is therefore foolish to claim that voting for the bill does not constitute a vote for increasing the debt ceiling in those amounts.
The best plan to address the debt ceiling crisis and plausibly to retain America's AAA credit rating remains the Cut, Cap and Balance Act. It may be simplified as CCB = AAA. That's in America's best interest.
We urge Senate Majority Leader Reid to reconsider the tabled bill and let the Senate debate it fully, in full view of the American people — so that it may garner the four or five votes that it needs to pass — and to agree that it should pass without invoking the 60 vote cloture threshold in recognition of the urgency of the matter.