WASHINGTON – An independent campaign to convince House Republicans to use their new-found power to freeze the debt limit at $14.3 trillion, forcing the federal government to live within its means starting this year, is gaining political traction.
Another House Republican has gone on the record this week as opposing another hike in the debt limit – joining Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas.
Rep. Reid Ribble, R-WI, said in an interview he will insist Barack Obama and the Congress tear up the credit card before it bankrupts the country. Ribble defeated his Democratic opponent, Rep. Steve Kagen, for voting to raise the debt limit in 2009 – making it a campaign promise that he would not follow suit. He said he intends to follow through on the vow.
“Congress has to grow up,” Ribble said. “It’s not some commission’s responsibility to determine what spending policy should be. The American people have elected a congress and the Congress needs to do their work.”
The campaign bringing attention to the debt limit vote – and particularly the House Republicans critical role in that vote – is an effort called “No More Red Ink,” pushed by Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND. He has repeatedly pointed out that Republicans were swept into power in November with the expectation they would stand up to more deficit spending.
The campaign got an unexpected boost from Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner last week who said an unexpected increase in tax revenues has postponed the necessity of such a vote for weeks because the debt limit is not expected to be reached until May 16, rather than earlier projections of the end of March.
“This is a gift for all those who understand what’s at stake in this vote,” said Farah. “We now may have a little more time to make our case with House Republicans, who can unilaterally deny Obama any more wild spending plans and actually force Washington into making dramatic cuts in so-called ‘entitlements’ and other wealth- redistribution schemes.”
Called the “No More Red Ink” campaign, Farah’s plan empowers America citizens to send messages to every member of the House Republican caucus inexpensively and efficiently – with guaranteed delivery by Fed Ex.
The campaign last week shipped the first 125,000 “red ink” letters to House Republicans urging them to oppose raising the debt limit when it comes to a vote in the coming weeks.
“Unfortunately, if the House Republicans do not hear from the American people in strength, they will vote for business-as-usual deficit spending for the next two years and surrender the power they have to force fiscal responsibility on Barack Obama and the Democrats in the Senate,” says Farah. “House Speaker John Boehner says he wants to use the debt limit to wrangle concessions out of the Democrats, but when he signals, as he did last weekend, that Congress must raise the debt limit to keep the government solvent, he has already waved the white flag of surrender on the most important vote to be cast in Congress over the next two years.”
There are those voices who already have spoken out in opposition to raising the limit, including former GOP presidential candidate and Reagan administration official Alan Keyes, Sens. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y. This week, Rep. Allen West, R-FL, told WND he, too, is far from waving the white flag on raising the debt limit.
With the Republicans holding 242 seats in the House, only 218 votes are needed to freeze the debt limit right where it is.
Meanwhile, the idea has received support from Phil Maymin, assistant professor of finance and risk engineering at New York University-Polytecnic Institute in an opinion piece in the Hartford Advocate in Connecticut. In fact, Maymin goes a step further, urging members of Congress to lower the debt limit rather than raise it.
“The government currently owes about $14 trillion,” he points out. “Could they borrow $100 trillion? That’s approximately the total amount of wealth on earth. If everybody sold everything they owned at current market value and paid off all their own debts, they would have about $100 trillion or so that they could lend to the federal government of America, But if everybody sold everything, who would buy it? The only entity with cash: the federal government. In other words, all of humanity would end up with no property except IOUs from a consortium of politicians. Maybe that’s what they have in mind.”
However, House Republican leadership says it will trade a hike in the debt limit for a promise by Obama and the Democrats to cut the budget.
“I don’t understand this?” says Farah. “If you are holding a winning hand, why fold? Why trade away the power you have to force the first real cuts in the budget and the end of deficit spending for yet another promise that will not be kept?”
For his part, Farah has made it easy for the public to make their voices heard in Washington in a powerful way.
The “No More Red Ink” campaign has two facets:
- Sign a petition directed exclusively to all 242 House Republicans calling on them not to bargain away their “nuclear option” that can stop any further deficit spending for the next two years.
- Flood their offices with “red ink” letters that remind them they are holding all the cards in getting government spending under control and that all they have to do is vote “no” on raising the debt limit.
“This is a plan to separate the real economic conservatives from the pretenders,” said Farah. “If you want to reduce the debt that is destroying this country’s economy we have a chance right now to slam on the brakes. Once the debt limit is raised, it’s back to business as usual.”
Republicans in the House hold all the cards, Farah points out. They don’t need a single Democratic vote to side with them. If 218 out of 242 Republicans in the House vote no on raising the debt limit, the debate is over – “and so is the growing U.S. debt.”
“At that point, Barack Obama can’t implement Obamacare,” he said. “From that moment onward, there will be no more spending initiatives by Obama for the next two years. There will be no more bailouts, no more ‘stimulus’ spending. It’s all over. In fact, the most significant budget cuts in modern American history will have to be made – and the Republican House will still have to approve them.”
Farah says he can’t understand why so few conservatives and Republicans are pushing the idea.
“I have to believe that most Americans are simply unaware of what is about to transpire,” he said. “Everyone is talking about the debt crisis – even Obama. But no one is talking about the opportunity we have to start reversing it right now. It’s always tomorrow, next year, next decade. That is a recipe for an even bigger disaster. Borrowing more is never a solution to a debt problem.”
The “No More Red Ink” campaign allows Americans to send a “red ink” letter to every member of the House majority urging them to vote “no” on raising the debt limit. The letters are individually addressed to each member, with guaranteed delivery by Fed Ex for a cost of just $29.99. It would cost an individual more than $100 in postage alone to send the 242 letters with no guarantee of delivery and certainly nowhere near the impact.
“I’m here to tell you that the Republicans in the House will be held accountable for this surrender to the Washington establishment and the Democrats in the Senate and White House if they capitulate on more debt spending,” says Farah. “Republicans in the House hold all the cards they need to stop this fiscal insanity this year. If they give in, they will be no better than the Democrats who have wrecked this economy.”
A similar campaign organized by WND last year delivered more than 9 million “pink slips” to members of the House and Senate. Farah is hoping a similar response by Americans in the next few weeks will persuade House Republicans to oppose raising the debt limit.
Last week, the Heritage Foundation also responded to the Fed’s dire warnings that if he doesn’t get his way with the debt ceiling, “our soldiers and veterans wouldn’t be paid, Social Security checks wouldn’t go out.”
The analysis by J.D. Foster, the Norman B. Ture senior fellow in the economics of fiscal policy at the Heritage Foundation, calls that warning alarmism.
“If the federal government runs up against the debt limit, then the Treasury has tools to manage cash flow for a time before severe measures will be necessary to align the federal spending set in law with the receipts available to the Treasury,” Foster wrote in his report.
“Treasury almost certainly will not default on its publicly issued debt. Nor will Congress imperil the standing of U.S. government debt in the credit markets, risking America’s ‘full faith and credit,’ as the president’s chief economic adviser has said,” he said.
For his part, Farah is encouraged.
“When we started this campaign two weeks ago, almost no one was talking about freezing the debt limit,” he said. “Few Americans understood what a powerful weapon the House Republicans had in their hands. Now the pressure is mounting on those who were elected in November promising an end to business as usual in Washington. That’s exactly what the debt-limit vote is all about – whether Washington is going to continue borrowing and overspending or whether new leadership will exert fiscal responsibility beginning this year.”