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Reclaiming the Power of the Purse

The framers of the Constitution intended for the House of Representatives, the People's House, to exercise control over the federal governments taxation and spending. Their theory was that the branch of government closest to the people would be the most accountable and the least likely to overtax and overspend. James Madison - the Architect of the Constitution

Unfortunately, the current Republican controlled Congress seems unable to muster the political will to perform its constitutional duty. The GOP, under the leadership of Speaker Boehner, has allowed itself to be outmaneuvered and blackmailed by the White House and the Senate. The so-called Fiscal Cliff was manufactured by Democrats to force the Republican Congress to capitulate on the issue of fiscal responsibility. Poor leadership and lack of political will allowed House Republicans to be duped by Democrats into creating a high-stakes, winner-take-all deadline with Democrats seemingly holding all the cards.

There are four major issues involved in the fiscal cliff.

  1. Expiration of the so-called "Bush Tax Cuts"
  2. Increase of the federal debt ceiling
  3. Spending authorization for the 2013 fiscal year
  4. The "Sequestration" of federal spending that would automatically impose major cuts on domestic and military spending.

Democrats are using the Republicans opposition to tax hikes and their passion to protect the countrys military as leverage to force them to give the President free rein on spending. The Republican leadership in Congress has been inept in allowing themselves to be backed into a corner.

Speaker of the House John BoehnerThe reality of the situation is that the GOP cannot win this round of the fight on taxes. Because the "Bush Tax Cuts" are set to expire, Republicans must pass legislation to prevent the tax hikes, and Democrats will not go along without asking for blood. The GOP must accept the facts as they exist and pass legislation to mitigate the effects of the tax increase on those most vulnerable--the middle class. The Democrat-controlled Senate and the President will go along, because this will give them the "tax hikes on the rich" that they have been campaigning for. The Democrats, of course, dont actually want tax hikes only on the rich. Their ideal outcome would be to have tax hikes on everyone and be able to blame the Republicans in Congress for failing to work with them to prevent it. Thats a twofer for the Dems--higher taxes to fund more government programs and the GOP wearing the blame for raising taxes on the middle class. Their "negotiating" strategy on the so-called fiscal cliff has been designed to bring about this outcome, and Republicans have been foolishly falling for it.

Once the GOP moves past the tax issue, they still have to deal with the sequestration problem. Once again, they have to take the club out of President Obamas hand. The House of Representatives should pass spending bills that make sense. They should give the military the money it needs to protect our country. They should meet our obligations to pay debt and they should fund entitlement programs at current levels. Then, they should take a meat axe to the operating budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Education Department, the Energy Department, Health & Human Services and the Justice Department. They should cut salaries of high--paid political appointees and freeze hiring and salaries in every department of the federal government. They should refuse to fund any spending related to the implementation of Obamacare, including setting up Federal health insurance exchanges to fill the void left by the 35 states that refuse to implement exchanges.

The House should pass short-term increases in the debt ceiling, just large enough to fund the government for a few months under their new, responsible spending levels. They do not want to be left in the position of defaulting on the countrys debts, but they cannot relinquish the leverage that the debt ceiling gives them.

Then, the GOP needs to go on a full scale public relations campaign to explain to the American public that it is funding entitlements and it is saving the middle class from tax hikes. It needs to explain that Republicans are holding the line against reckless deficit spending by the President and Harry Reid.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Reid will declare the House spending bills "Dead on Arrival" in the Senate. The President will drag every "victim" of the government cuts in front of willing media members who will tell tales of woe about the cruel and compassionless Republicans. At this point, Republicans need to stand their ground. Harry Reid and the President will eventually be forced to pass the spending bills from the House or shut down the government.

Meanwhile, Republicans must present themselves as reasonable stewards of the public good. They must explain, over and over, that there will no longer be a blank check issued to the Democrats. They must be clever in finding ways of reaching beyond the traditional conservative demographic to make their point. Every Republican must stand together and fight for the high ground.

Manufactured Political Celebrity Sandra FlukeRepublicans must learn from what the Democrats have done to push their agenda. Sandra Fluke was created out of thin air to become the champion of free birth control. This was an issue that was literally invented by the Democrats to create a demand for a new entitlement just to put Republicans in the position of arguing against "reproductive freedom" for women. Fiscal conservatives must find ways of bringing public attention to the devastating impact on our military of the Democrat spending plans. They must use scare tactics, if necessary, to convince Americans that the current fiscal path is truly unsustainable. They must portray the President and Harry Reid as reckless and wasteful. They need to establish a line of attack and stick with it relentlessly until the country gets it.

The U.S. Constitution gives the House of Representatives the Power of the PurseIt will be painful, both financially and politically, for the Republicans to pry the Presidents fingers from their throats. However, it would be a great tragedy for them to lose their nerve and capitulate by making a deal that gives the President a blank check for the next two years, driving closer and closer to the real fiscal cliff--insolvency. It is time for the GOP to seize back the power of the purse that was given to them in the Constitution. America cannot afford any more years of President Obamas fiscal recklessness.

- Dan Ryan, Publisher

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