WASHINGTON – A Heritage Foundation fellow and former member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., says President Obama is sidestepping what could be a large part of the resolution of the nation’s problem with its debt ceiling: Obamacare.
“Repealing Obamacare would certainly help even though they tried to disguise the fact that it was a major contributor to deficit, what is it, $183 billion in advance appropriations still coming in?” Istook said.
“It’s money being spent hand-over-fist. That would be a step in the right direction,” Istook said.
His comments came just after Obama’s latest news conference at which he stated – repeatedly – his requirements for Congress to raise the nation’s debt ceiling so he can borrow and spend more money.
He said he remains hopeful he and congressional leaders still can reach a deal on the debt ceiling.
Speaking with reporters, Obama said that the time for a deal is urgent and that official Washington needs to have a “long term view of the big picture.”
Obama also took a few shots at the members of Congress he says are tied to their electoral base and separated from the mainstream voters.
“The question is, at what given moment are we going to set all of this [partisan rhetoric] aside and get something done?” Obama asked. “So the question is, at what point are the folks over there going to start listening to the people that put them in office?”
He lectured members of Congress and said a balanced budget amendment is not needed, something to which Istook took exception.
“The American people for decades have been calling upon Congress to enact a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and President Obama is certainly out of step in his opposition to that,” Istook said.
American Enterprise Institute economic analyst Allan Meltzer said Obamacare repeal is certainly a starting point.
“Repealing Obamacare would relieve some of the burden. It won’t solve all of the problems, but it will help,” Meltzer said.
Heritage Foundation economic policy analyst J. D. Foster said Obama talks a lot about bipartisanship, but he wants to define the term.
“His interpretation of setting aside partisanship is that the other side
should stop arguing and agree with him,” Foster said.
That issue, however, isn’t the problem, he said.
“The issue is not partisanship. It’s not politics. The issue is restoring fiscal discipline to the federal government by cutting spending before we are buried in debt,” Foster said.
Istook believes the American people recognize the real source of the problem.
“The American people realize … the problem is that it [government] spends too much,” Istook said. He said Washington needs to stop looking at government projections and pay attention to what the financial rating houses are saying. He says the focus should be on long-term solutions.
With the debt ceiling now at $14 trillion plus, the current year’s deficit adding at least a trillion dollars to that, there is reason for concern over Obamacare, with costs estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to be as high as $1.2 trillion in its initial 10-year period. The program also is backloaded, so the costs skyrocket each year as more and more of the programs would kick in.
Another report from Congress said the program also would cost 80,000 jobs.
“If you look at what the financial rating houses are saying, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, they are not only looking at whether or not something is done for the short term problem with the debt ceiling,” Istook explained.
“They’re looking to whether there is any permanent reform with the level of unsustainable spending that Washington has,” Istook explained further.
“They have said that we are facing a downgrade of our borrowing if we don’t take major steps that solve the problems,” Istook added.
Listen to Istook:
He also was critical of the president’s call for a blanket increase in the debt ceiling because the consequences he sees will go with the increase.
“For the president to say, ‘Give me an increase in the debt ceiling,’ but he’s not going to go along with fundamental reform, we’re risking a downgrade in our rating and the economic consequences of that,” Istook said. “They seem to be overlooking that part of the warning from the rating agencies.”
Istook said the president bears much of the responsibility because of a lack of executive leadership.
“The president has not directed any of the federal agencies to cut back on unnecessary expenses, to delay contracts that could be delayed or, purchases or travel that could be delayed,” Istook said.
“He hasn’t taken any of those steps,” Istook added. “When you know you’re driving to a cliff you ought to be putting on the brakes rather than keeping your foot down, ‘Pedal to the metal on the accelerator’.”
“The absence of any presidential directive to slow down spending to avert the problem tells me where the president’s true feelings lie,” Istook said. “It’s with big government and for making false claims about the level of spending cuts that they’ve supposedly agreed to.”
An expert quoted in a commentary by WND Managing Editor David Kupelian said the nation will have enough money to service its debt and pay some other bills even without an increase in the debt ceiling.
Obama had issued a not-so-veiled threat to America’s seniors, suggesting that he would not be certain Social Security checks due to be sent Aug. 3 still would be sent if the debt ceiling increase he wants isn’t granted by Aug. 2.
He said. “I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven’t resolved this issue. Because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it.”
However, investment adviser Kurt Brouwer wrote in Marketwatch that that simply isn’t reality.
Krouwer explained that the U.S. Treasury needs to pay about $15 billion to $20 billion in any given month in interest on debt. But the government takes in about $200 billion a month.
Joseph Farah, CEO of WND and the organizer of the grass-roots “No More Red Ink” campaign, which is lobbying to simply cut off the government’s credit card, said the House Republicans have it within their control to simply stop the borrowing and force the federal government to reduce spending.
“The only reason to raise the debt limit is to continue business as usual in Washington,” said Farah. “There is no necessity to do it. The prudent and responsible move would be to run the government with the trillions in revenues it takes in. No individual, no business and no state or local government can just keep borrowing to justify uncontrolled spending. It’s time the federal government starts operating like the rest of us do.”
In recent weeks, a number of high-profile commentators also have come out in favor of simply calling a halt to the borrowing – estimated at some $5 trillion since Obama took office.
Radio host Michael Savage blasted House Republicans for even considering allowing the Obama administration to pile up more debt.
“Where did all the ‘fiscal conservatives’ go?” Savage asked in a recent email to WND. “Of course we should not extend the debt limit! What kind of insanity is this?
“If a family is broke and dependent on loans,” Savage continued, “what bank would extend a new credit line until the family 1) sold assets; 2) worked out a repayment plan for existing loans? We will become a bigger ‘banana republic,’ like Argentina 20 years ago, if we increase our national debt.”
Members of the media who would like to interview Joseph Farah about this story can email [email protected]