Conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz 
are right to take stand on budget

The longer you study politics the more you realize that the wise men in Washington — East Coast publishers, think-tank CEOs and U.S. senators since antiquity — aren’t nearly as wise as they suppose. In their own minds, these institutional and party elders are the voices of reason and deliberation, benevolent fonts of insight able to divine the public interest with a click of the heels.

If only it were so.

These days, the wise men in Washington are urging Republicans to avoid a budget showdown. With one voice they harangue: Now is not the time for another budget bloodbath.

The House and Senate have two “must pass” items before year’s end. One is a continuing resolution to fund the government into next year, without which the federal government and all of its infinite instrumentalities would shut down. The second is another debt ceiling increase, without which the government would probably default at some point down the road.

Tired of the needless bickering, yearning for the good old days when backs were slapped and budgets were passed, the Washington Wise are urging congressional Republicans to stay calm, move along and pass a ontinuing resolution and debt-ceiling hike before the turkey and dressing get passed.

Unfortunately for the country, this is the line the wise men have been spouting for a very, very long time. It is precisely this thinking that has pushed our nation to the fiscal brink.

A handful of rabble rousing conservatives — Sens. Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio — aren’t buying what the wise guys are selling. They openly chafe at another status-quo continuing resolution; they shudder at the idea of another debt ceiling increase. Ted Cruz has the most aggressive plan of all: no continuing resolution to keep the government open unless the resolutions also defunds Obamacare.

At first blush, Cruz’s plan does seem a little like tilting at heavily subsidized windmills. If and when a budget with an Obamacare repeal clears the GOP-led House, it has no chance of passing the Harry Reid-led Senate.

And even if did manage to successfully navigate the Senate, President Barack Obama would never sign a bill repealing the signature law bearing his name.

But that doesn’t mean the Cruz plan is without merit. Politics is about leverage, and fighting with Obama and Democrats over Obamacare may well set up more sequestration-style spending cuts or some other secondary benefit.  Best of all, it keeps the Obamacare fight alive, preserving a flicker of hope that one day it might indeed be repealed. But don’t tell that to the wise men of Washington. They want the white flag.

“Ted Cruz is a smart man,” Wise Woman Peggy Noonan reproved last month. “Why then, for heaven’s sakes, is Cruz signing on in support of a tea party-led effort to block funding of the Affordable Care Act that threatens a shutdown of the government? This makes no sense, either for Texas or for the Republican Party.”

David Brooks, the allegedly conservative columnist for The New York Times, struck harsher tones.

“What’s going on ... is what you might call the rise of Ted Cruz-ism.  And Ted Cruz ... is basically not a legislator in the normal sense.” He and others like him are not in Congress to pass legislation or create coalitions, Brooks said. “They’re not legislators. They want to stop things.”

Ted Cruz is, I concede, a handful. Politics is some days about coalitions and deal-making. On that point, the wise men are right. In that part of the job, Cruz has a lot of work to do.

But there are moments and issues when the fight must be waged, and the fight over the nation’s spending morass is one.

The wise men disagree, saying now is the time for inaction and capitulation. They said the same thing in November 2004 when the debt ceiling was raised to $8 trillion. In February 2010 and August 2011, when the nation’s debt was boosted to $14 trillion, then $16 trillion, it also wasn’t time to fight.

See the trend?

If the wise men don’t like Cruz’s plan, fine, but show an alternative. Mindlessly increasing the debt without a hardline strategy is a recipe for more of the same – more debt, and a diminished American tomorrow. That may be convenient for the sensibilities of our political elite, but make no mistake — that is not wise.

Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.


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Do you believe in paying bills for money you have already spent?  Wasn’t it Congress that spent the money (already) in the first place? Since when do ‘fiscally responsible’ ‘conservatives’ advocate absconding on debt?

Buried within the rubbish of Josh Penry’s latest offering – “Conservatives such as Sen. Ted Cruz are right to take a stand on budget” – are revealing gems.

First, just who were these “Washington wise men” who Penry claims are responsible for engendering the current confrontation?  The answer is implied by his conclusion. 

Thus, after “conservative” Republican President Reagan’s “VooDoo Economics” tripled the national debt from 1980 to 1992, Democratic President Clinton nearly balanced the federal budget by 2000 (and arguably bequeathed a surplus, ignoring borrowing from Social Security).

Then, as Penry accurately reports, the debt ceiling was raised to $8 trillion in November 2004 and to $14 trillion in February 2010.  What happened in-between 2000 and 2010?

Penry conveniently “forgets” that—beginning in 2001—“compassionate conservative” Republican President George Bush reinstated Reagan’s previously discredited “VooDoo Economics” by enacting gratuitously excessive tax cuts, initiating two unfunded wars, and enacting the likewise unfunded Medicare Part D.  President Obama inherited that mess – and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Consequently, the debt ceiling was necessarily raised to $16 trillion in August 2011.

In 2012, Republican tax-avoider Mitt Romney “doubled-down” on failed “conservative” economic policies, but Americans soundly rejected him.

So, as Penry aptly notes, “Unfortunately for the country, this is the line that [conservative Republican] ‘wise men’ have been spouting for a very, very long time.  It is precisely this thinking that has pushed our nation to the fiscal brink”.

Second, what is dangerously different about Cruz is not just his rhetorical reiteration of the familiar “conservative” canards which “pushed our nation to the fiscal brink” – and now threaten “a diminished American tomorrow” today—but rather his deliberate and cynically disingenuous Hitler-like resort to multiple falsehoods about ObamaCare to advance his own selfish presidential ambitions at the nation’s expense.

Cruz and “wise man” is an oxymoron. Any default of US government debt would be an economic clamity. If Cruz’s efforts to shut down the government and a default were to occur, I would classify Cruz and his ilk not as patriots but terrorists, as those events would do more damage to this country than any 9-11.

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