WASHINGTON – There's a major disconnect between the "political class" in Washington and American voters overall on how to face the budget debate and the wider issue of the growing U.S. debt, a new poll by Rasmussen Reports reveals today.
The survey, taken last week, shows 58 percent of Americans would rather see a partial government shutdown than keep spending at 2010 levels. Only 33 percent would prefer to keep spending at current levels.
Democrats would prefer to avoid a shutdown by 58 percent, but 80 percent of Republicans and 59 percent of independents say a shutdown is a better option.
The issue arises because Congress has not yet passed a budget for 2011, instead authorizing spending for a few months. That authorization is about to expire.
At the same time, Congress will face a vote in the coming weeks on raising the debt limit above $14.3 trillion. House Republicans can freeze it with a no vote, but GOP leaders signaled a willingness to keep borrowing.
TRENDING: Hamas' plan for Israel
Republicans may fear being politically outmaneuvered as they were by President Bill Clinton in 1995 when they allowed a government shutdown – even though the stock market rose during the spending freeze when non-essential federal employees were ordered to stay home.
"This is another issue that the political class and mainstream voters don't see eye-to-eye on," said the Rasmussen report. ""Seventy-six percent of those in the political class would rather see spending continue at current levels to avoid a shutdown; 70 percent of mainstream voters prefer a shutdown until Democrats and Republicans can agree on spending cuts."
The organizer of a campaign to freeze the debt limit and end all government borrowing says the poll demonstrates House Republicans "have the wind at their backs if they have the guts to change the direction of the federal government 180 degrees by voting against a hike in the debt limit."
"Poll after poll shows Americans understand the debt crisis and want it dealt with in dramatic fashion now," says WND's Joseph Farah, the force behind the "No More Red Ink" campaign that is flooding House Republicans with letters calling for a freeze on borrowing. "Yet it is ironically the House Republicans who are afraid to use the power they have."
Farah's campaign is built around the political reality that House Republicans alone can stop the borrowing and spending that is bankrupting America.
"This is their big chance to demonstrate that they are different from the Democrats," he says. "All they have to do to stop the fiscal insanity is to say no to a hike in the debt limit – one vote! The rest takes care of itself. It will require massive cuts in the federal bureaucracy, which is what Republicans have said they want and what Americans still say they want."
Farah reminds that even Sen. Barack Obama said he was opposed to raising the debt limit back in 2006: "The fact we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. … Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren."
"Obama has clearly flipflopped," says Farah. "Are House Republicans going to flipflop, too?"
Sometime in the coming weeks, a bill will come to both houses of Congress requesting approval of a hike in the debt limit from $14.3 trillion, a sum already representing essentially 100 percent of the nation's gross domestic product and more than 14 percent of the world's wealth.
Republicans hold all the cards, Farah says. They can stop it with 218 votes in the House – and they control 241.
"Barack Obama isn't right often, but he was right in 2006 when he opposed raising the debt limit," said Farah, organizer of the "No More Red Ink" campaign. "Suddenly, raising the debt limit is a good idea to him so he can fund his socialized medicine program, continue his wealth-redistribution schemes, take over more failing companies, fund more failed stimulus programs, subsidize his state-sponsored media outlets, pour more wasted and counterproductive dollars into unconstitutional departments and agencies, pay for abortions through Planned Parenthood and create more czardoms.
"Republicans can pull the plug on Obama's entire socialist agenda with one key vote in opposition to raising the debt limit. And you can provide House Republicans the backbone they need to do this in the next few weeks."
Obama has proposed a federal budget for this year of $3.71 trillion. That would increase existing debt by more than $1 trillion.
"Everyone, even Obama, agrees the economic path we're on is unsustainable," says Farah. "But the politicians just refuse to get off the same old path. It's always next year, or when the economy improves, that Washington is going to become responsible. Even with governments in crisis throughout the world and among the states, Washington is still on the precipice of making the same mistake over again by allowing more borrowing by Obama."
The goal of the "No More Red Ink" campaign is to make that process simpler and more economical for every American.
The campaign is designed to mobilize and empower Americans to make their voices heard in Washington by sending individually addressed red letters to every Republican in the House of Representatives urging them to hold the line on borrowing.
The campaign also got another big boost by grabbing the simple domain name "NoMoreRedInk.com."
So far the campaign has sent 500,000 letters to the 241 Republican members in control of the House of Representatives who have the power to block any more borrowing and deficit spending this year. Already, the campaign has taxed the nation's supplies of red paper, forcing more production by the economically depressed paper mills.
"We are getting paper shipped to our Midwest fulfillment centers all the way from California right now as a result of this successful campaign," said Farah. "But that's just the beginning. We need to inundate House Republicans with millions of red letters to get them to do the right thing on the debt limit vote."
There's no mystery about how to avoid raising the debt limit, says Farah. All Congress has to do is cut $738 billion from the existing budget – a budget of $3.5 trillion.
"Republican members of the House, the people we just elected to take over last November, have all the power to make this happen – simply by voting against raising the debt limit," says Farah. "At that point, Democrats and Republicans have no choice but to cut back the federal government to where it should be – in line with its revenues. We do not need tax hikes. We do not need to miss Social Security payments. We do not need to default on our loan obligations. We just have to cut the bloated bureaucracies – many of which are unconstitutional to begin with."
Farah says when the "No More Red Ink" campaign began earlier this year, almost no one was talking seriously about not raising the debt limit. Today, he says, Republican presidential candidates, members of the Senate and an increasing number of House Republicans are joining the movement. Among those who have embraced the idea are Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sen. Jim DeMint, Rep. Ron Paul and many others.
"All it takes now is 218 votes in the House – and it's all in the control of Republicans," says Farah. "Can we persuade Republicans not to borrow any more? If we can't, we may miss the last opportunity we have until 2012 to save this country from bankruptcy and disaster."
"The biggest vote, most important vote, they will cast this year is on the question of whether to raise the debt limit because the new majority in the lower house can, by inaction alone, force the most dramatic spending cuts in American history," says Farah.
And that's what the "No More Red Ink" campaign is designed to do – flood House Republicans with hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of red letters making the case for an end to the borrow-and-spend cycle that everyone agrees is unsustainable.
While the latest poll shows 70 percent of Americans opposed to raising the debt limit, House Speaker John Boehner has signaled his intent to push for it – surrendering, Farah says, the only weapon Republicans have that can force cuts beyond those that will be accepted by the Democrat-dominated Senate and Barack Obama.
"This campaign is now getting help from tea party activists across the country," Farah said. "We're getting lots of support from Republicans in the House who don't approve of their leadership's concession on this issue. This is about to explode on the nation as the most important vote Congress will hold this year or any year – one that can completely break the chain of business as usual in Washington."
"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."
The 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?"
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, because of their majority. They don't need a single Democratic vote to side with them to shut down borrowing.
"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."
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 241 letters with no guarantee of delivery and certainly nowhere near the impact.
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.
"When we started this campaign three 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."
Farah predicts this will soon become the biggest issue in the nation – something that everyone is talking about.
"This is the moment to join this campaign and shake up the Washington borrowing-and-spending machine like it has never been shaken up before," he said. "Remind the Republicans in the House why they were elected to lead."