Monday, April 18, 2011

An open letter to Speaker John Boehner

Representative Boehner,

Last November American taxpayers sent a strong message at the ballot box. We stated in no uncertain terms that the reckless spending and massive deficits of the past two years are unacceptable and that a dramatic change in direction is needed. As a result of this tidal wave, you were swept into the position of Speaker of the House. We expect you to make something of this opportunity, or to step aside and let someone else seize the opportunity.

There were three key points where Republicans had significant leverage to convince the unwilling Democrats to adopt a new direction of fiscal sanity. The first was the establishment of a budget for the remainder of the 2011 year. The Democrats sidestepped their duty to pass a budget, meaning that only with the approval of the new Republican majority in the House could government operations continue. This allowed you to set the conditions. But long before the situation came to a head, you stated that you would not allow the government to shut down. You essentially gave up your position of strength. Is it any surprise that instead of the $100 billion in cuts you promised in the campaign, you settled for $38 billion? What is even more disappointing is that the $38 billion are not real cuts, and the deal you brokered only reduces actual spending by less than one billion dollars. That is not even one percent of what you promised. That is unacceptable.

Your excuses are even less acceptable. You said that the House of Representatives is "One half of one third of the government." However, the House is where every single dollar of spending authorization originates. If anything is funded by the Federal Government, it is because Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to authorize it. In this budget deal, either you played us or you got played. I'd really like to know which it was.

The next leverage point is the debt ceiling. Within a very few months we will reach the level of indebtedness which Congress has authorized. Democrat fearmongering about the dire consequences of not raising the debt ceiling have already begun, with the intention of intimidating Republicans into backing down from their demands for effective spending controls to be in place before they authorize more debt. If reaching the debt ceiling would truly be such a great calamity, Democrats should be highly motivated to implement those spending controls. Unfortunately, you are already on record as having caved once, so they will expect you to do it again. If that is your intention, please step down now and allow someone with a spine to take your place.

On the other hand, if you are ready to do what you were sent by your boss to do, an excellent way to go about this would be to attach an increase in the debt ceiling to the Ryan budget. Pass it and make it clear that the Senate and President must either approve the whole thing or figure out how to get by without any new borrowing. However you decide to do it, spending cuts measured in billions are not adequate. It will require trillions to even put a dent in the debt crisis.

Please decide quickly. If you waste this opportunity, there may not be another.


Your Boss

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