For many years, our federal government has spent beyond its means. Both parties have contributed to the over $31.6 trillion debt and Americans are feeling the strain of inflation. Now that Republicans hold the majority in the House, they have an opportunity to make great strides in fiscal responsibility. However, the impending debt ceiling fight is putting a damper on any progress.
In December 2021, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to raise the debt limit to $31.4 trillion which was a $2.5 trillion increase. This was passed without any spending limitations or reforms, so it didn’t take long to meet that limit. In January of this year, the Treasury hit that mark and took “extraordinary measures” to borrow funds to put off reaching the set debt ceiling. These measures, though, will be exhausted in just a few months, so Congress must make the decision to increase the debt limit again or, for the first time in American history, default on their loans.
With a Republican majority in the House, Democrat majority in the Senate, and a Democrat in the White House, any agreement on how to address the nation’s debt has been challenging. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) engaged in talks with the White House in February but there was no agreement on how to move forward. Biden is pushing for Republicans to release an official budget proposal before Easter recess but has yet to meet with McCarthy again. If Biden agrees to meet with McCarthy, he will be faced with a list of demands before the Speaker will agree to schedule a vote in favor of a debt limit increase.
While the left and the media are complaining that the GOP has no budget proposal, Democrats continued to complain in budget hearings this week about the major cuts that Republicans want to make to all government programs. It’s mind-boggling that members would complain about a budget that doesn’t exist. Although the House Budget Committee has yet to unveil its ‘official’ budget, several Republican Member groups have proposed their own ideas that they hope their colleagues can rally around.
The Republican Study Committee (RSC) publishes in-depth fiscal research every year on how our federal taxpayer dollars should be spent responsibly. This year, their Blueprint to Save America outlines the cuts, deregulation measures, and reforms that need to be made to chip away at our national debt. These policies would move individuals off welfare dependency, defund radical ideologies such as Critical Race Theory and sexual orientation education, ensure no taxpayer-funded abortions or sex change procedures, ban earmarks, secure our border, and dozens more fiscally conservative goals. They claim that this proposal would balance the budget in seven years.
Recently, the House Freedom Caucus proposed its own budget as well and it caused such a stir that the White House responded. Some of their measures include rescinding unspent COVID funds, ending Biden’s $400 billion student loan forgiveness program, cutting funding to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), instituting work requirements for welfare, and more. They also demanded that Biden cut his own budget proposal by $6.8 trillion. Although these measures still aren’t enough to balance a budget, Freedom Caucus members see this as a step toward the greater goal. Biden was so offended by these policies that the White House dedicated the entire week to picking apart the Freedom Caucus’s budget.
With the White House responding in such an aggressive way, it’s no surprise that Republicans are holding their cards close by waiting to release a budget that the party can unite around. Since Republicans have a mere five-member majority, leadership must be very strategic in keeping everyone in line.
Eagle Forum will keep a close eye on upcoming budget and debt ceiling negotiations. We hope that Republicans will hold the line on conservative policies, budget reforms, and spending cuts. It is time that Congress gets serious about our nation’s debt.