WASHINGTON – In six months, sometime right after the presidential election, the new debt limit set last year by Congress will be reached – triggering one of three possibilities: an economic crisis of unimaginable proportions, more borrowing and spending policies approved by a Democrat-controlled Senate and a Republican House and, likely, higher taxes, or an opportunity to return the U.S. to constitutionally limited government overnight through massive cuts in the federal government.
While Barack Obama would like to see the debt limit increased without conditions, Republican House Speaker John Boehner is calling for cuts in spending and a continuation of the tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush, which are set to expire automatically Dec. 31, in exchange for House approval of a debt-limit increase.
But there’s a third option being promoted by Rep. Ron Paul, WND founder Joseph Farah and a handful of Republican House members who don’t think Boehner’s asking for nearly enough to save the country from default or a long-term financial crisis.
Why not, they suggest, just freeze the debt limit right where it is and force Washington to live within its means – starting now?
Its mission is to persuade Republicans in control of the House to just say no to any more borrowing, since both houses of Congress need to approve such a measure, as they did last year, with only 22 Republican members dissenting. It will take 218 votes in the House to kill another debt-limit increase. Republicans control 241 votes.
“It’s time for us to know as Americans whether there is really any difference between Republicans and Democrats in Washington,” says Farah, whose campaign has already delivered more than 1 million red letters to Republican House members urging a no vote on any debt-limit increase. His campaign is also soliciting pledges from current Republican House members and Republican candidates for Congress in 2012 to deny any more borrowing.
“It’s not a crisis to stop borrowing,” says Farah. “The crisis will come if Washington doesn’t reverse course and start drastically cutting down the size of its bureaucracy. Not only is Washington overspending by more than $1 trillion a year, it is overregulating limiting Americans’ freedom by more than $1 trillion a year. For Republicans to say they’re against borrowing is not enough. They have the power to stop it cold, and it’s time we pushed them to live up to their rhetoric.”
Farah is hoping the stronger-than-expected showing of Ron Paul in the Republican presidential primaries along with growing frustration in House Republican ranks with the leadership of Boehner and a forceful outpouring of support for the “No More Red Ink” campaign by Republican and independent voters can turn a crisis into what he sees as “an opportunity.”
“Americans overwhelmingly say they want to stop borrowing,” says Farah. “Every poll shows it. Even a majority of Democrats say they want it. But some 80 percent of Republican voters favor cutting off the borrowing power now. But this support needs to be demonstrated in a way more forceful than polls. That’s where the ‘No More Red Ink’ campaign comes in.”
Those who participate in the campaign are empowered to send all 241 current House Republicans individually addressed red letters calling for a debt freeze. A previous campaign prior to the 2010 midterm election resulted in deluging Congress with more than 9 million “pink slips” warning of the major shakeup that was coming in that election.
“If we could muster that kind of support again for this campaign, I have no doubts we could achieve victory on this issue,” he said.
For his part, Boehner said last week that any increase in the debt limit would have to be accompanied by equal or greater spending cuts and reforms.
In a speech earlier last week, Boehner said “allowing America to default,” while not such a hot idea, would be better than raising the debt ceiling without “dramatic steps to reduce spending.” Added Boehner: “We shouldn’t dread the debt limit. We should welcome it. It’s an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction.”
Farah says Boehner is bluffing and the White House knows it.
“Boehner said the same thing last time and caved like a house of cards,” said Farah. “He tipped his hand early in January 2011 by saying it was unthinkable not to raise the debt limit. There’s no way he’s going to get any concessions from Obama this time after getting nothing last year. He acts like he doesn’t have any cards to play, but House Republicans have the power to give us what they have always talked about in their electioneering – smaller government. All they have to do is just say no to more borrowing. It can’t be vetoed. It can’t be overruled. This is an opportunity to hold Republicans accountable to the voters who put them in office.”
It’s also possible the debt limit vote could be postponed until the new Congress is sworn in in January. In the last bargain agreed to by Boehner, Republicans stripped themselves of any authority to oppose a debt limit increase before the November election. But Obama doesn’t want to sign a decree for a higher debt limit before the vote.
Either way, says Farah, the day of reckoning is coming soon.