The FreedomWorks team, headed by former House Leader Dick Armey and FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe are out in force making some suggestions as to what programs Congress should consider cutting in their drive to decrease government spending. An obvious and somewhat forgotten suggestion that the two gentlemen make is removing the “temporary” stimulus from the budget. In 2009 a supposedly temporary stimulus was added to the budget, blowing it out of the water. That stimulus hasn’t been cut, and if it were it could reduce the deficit by $177 billion according the Armey and Kibbe. That’s a lot of money, considering the House GOP leadership is targeting a measly $100 billion in cuts for 2011.
Armey and Kibbe go on to recommend many other cuts, like a return to the 2007 budget baseline (a $374 billion savings), repealing Obamacare ($898 billion saved over 10 years), reducing the number of federal government employees to 2008 levels ($38 billion in savings), and the list goes on and on. These things add up and that’s not even including cuts to sacred cows like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
As the spending battle heats up on Capitol Hill, the first obstacle to a true solution is the upcoming vote on whether or not to raise the debt ceiling. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania has cut through all the misinformation surrounding the increase of the debt ceiling with an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal. Toomey points out, and rightly so, that the debt ceiling in no way affects America’s ability to pay its debts. It only allows America to continue spending on other things while using more borrowed money to refinance the debt ad infinitum.
Toomey will introduce legislation that will codify the government’s priorities to fund the interest payments on America’s debts if the ceiling were not to be raised. Coupled with a denial of an increase in the debt ceiling, the legislation will force Congress to make cuts elsewhere in the budget, a very good goal indeed.
Senator Toomey hedges his bets a bit on the issue by saying that a failure to increase the debt ceiling would lead to a disruptive shock to government, and that may be so, but he is going to use any increase in the debt ceiling to force Congress to cut spending. Raising the debt ceiling may be a stinker that conservatives will have to hold their nose and accept today, but it had better come with serious spending cuts or the newly minted freshmen in the House and Senate will surely be looking for new jobs come 2012.
The first target for congressional conservatives today is Obamacare. Take a look at the 1,968 new powers that were given to Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius as part of Obamacare’s implementation. The chart at the website of the Center for Health Transformation is absolutely mind blowing, with explanations of the HHS powers to intercede in every facet of America’s health care industry. I don’t think you’ll find any of these in Article I Section 8 of the U.S. constitution!
Herbert Pardes writes that with baby boomers reaching the age of 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day, the country will shortly be running out of doctors to handle all of their medical needs. You see, Medicare creates a shortage for doctors on the one hand by limiting the amount of remuneration doctors receive for some services (price controls). So to remedy the problem of a doctor shortage the government supplies money to train new doctors. The problem is that the amount of money paid to train new doctors has decreased substantially since 1996 and is slated to decrease further. It’s not hard to see the problem here: more patients, fewer doctors, longer waits, more deaths. Obamacare must be repealed, and some common sense must be applied to America’s healthcare system.