Freedom First Society

Issue: H.Con.Res. 96 Establishing the budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2015 and setting forth appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2016 through 2024.

Result: Passed in House, 219 to 205, 8 not voting.  Republicans scored.

From the Congressional Research Summary (emphasis added):

Title II: Recommended Long-Term Levels – (Sec. 201) Lists recommended revenue, spending, and deficit levels and amounts for FY2030, FY2035, and FY2040 as a percent of the federal gross domestic product (GDP) with respect to: (1) federal revenues, (2) budget outlays, (3) deficits, and (4) debt.

Title III: Reserve Funds – (Sec. 301) Authorizes a certain reserve fund to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the health care-related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (2010 health care laws).

(Sec. 302) Authorizes certain deficit-neutral reserve funds [partial list]:

  • for rural counties and schools
  • to reform policies and programs to reduce poverty and increase opportunity and upward mobility.

Analysis:  As GOP House leaders were drumming up support for their forthcoming budget, Washington’s Roll Call (3-21-14) reported:   “Majority Leader Eric Cantor is telling House Republicans they will produce a budget that adheres to [negotiated] spending limits and balances the budget in ten years.”

Unfortunately, each year the GOP leadership misleads gullible conservatives by championing a balanced budget — albeit far in the future. Adherence to the Constitution can produce major cuts in federal spending now, whereas setting goals for future Congresses to exercise more fiscal discipline is pure deception.

Moreover, as the provisions cited above show, the GOP proposed budget implicitly accepts unconstitutional programs, merely calling for reform or limiting federal spending to what America can ostensibly afford.

Pursuant to the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, this year’s budget resolution, sponsored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, will not even bind appropriation committees to a ceiling, unless both the House and Senate agree to a compromise — not in the cards.

So the roll call was largely symbolic, allowing lawmakers an opportunity to showcase their spending priorities. The vote is nevertheless significant, because it identifies which GOP congressmen are adhering to their party leadership, as opposed to their oath to uphold the Constitution.

Perhaps the good news is that 12 Republicans broke with their party leadership and opposed the resolution: Georgia representatives Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, Jack Kingston, and Austin Scott; Walter Jones (NC–3); Thomas Massie (KY–4); Rick Crawford (AR–1); Chris Gibson (NY–19); Ralph Hall (TX–4); David Jolly (FL–13); David McKinley (WV–1); and Frank LoBiondo (NJ–2).   Only the latter two, McKinley and LoBiondo, indicated they objected to the budget because specific cuts were too deep.

Although the GOP budget resolution did respect the established sequester caps, those caps, providing a minor, but welcome restraint on spending, were increased in the Bipartisan Budget Act enacted last December.   62 GOP representatives properly opposed that act, which was pushed through with Democratic help, but many of those 62 accepted the higher caps in supporting the Ryan budget resolution.

Of course, liberal Democrats howled that the cuts proposed by the Ryan budget resolution were too severe. (In fact, no Democrat supported it.) Nancy Pelosi called the GOP budget plan “a road to recession.” However, such opposition from prominent liberals simply provides the GOP with cover for continued destructive leadership.

Spending Caps

Federal spending in excess of revenue is only one part of America’s economic problems. The far bigger problem is the driver of out-of-control spending — a Congress willing to ignore constitutional restraints.

Even a balanced budget, if still bloated with unconstitutional spending that consumes America’s productivity, is no gift. Merely keeping the patient alive is not a sufficient goal; instead, America should seek to restore unprecedented economic vitality in the private sector. And it can do so, simply by putting the federal monster back in its cage —the Constitution.

Freeing up the private sector requires killing the driver of our financial mess — a long history of Congress trashing the constitutional limits on what the federal government should be involved in. In more recent times, the Establishment media has helped perpetuate that usurpation by keeping public attention focused on an entertaining partisan political debate over spending levels, while ignoring the important — the massive unconstitutional activity bloating the federal budget.

Without a more permanent public focus on the importance of constitutional restraints, any small victories in limiting spending today will be more than offset by further unconstitutional spending tomorrow, driven by new pretexts, when busy voters are asleep.

A better informed public must also insist that the House use its power of the purse aggressively to force the other branches to accept a roll back of unconstitutional programs.   Such tough medicine won’t be administered as long as the public tolerates the “conservative” House strategy of bringing big-spending liberals to the negotiating table.

We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)

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