Selective Shut Down strategy better than Debt Ceiling bluff

Despite my “gamecock” nickname, I have never favored games of chicken and so don’t support a House GOP contest of Blind-Debt-ceiling-Man’s Bluff either. I have always thought that protest votes, especially if cast by a majority that would have the United States default on its current obligations, were irresponsible.

Moreover, how much credible a threat is such a bluff under current circumstances? Zero, with but one caveat if the proposal includes current cuts that make such a raising of the debt ceiling unnecessary and/or the “sequencing” rule which Tim Pawlenty proposes further below.

I have long favored a publicly-declared Republican Shut-Down strategy, especially since the Lame Duck Session, and have long lamented that Newt didn’t employ such a plan back in the 1990s. The beauty of drawing the line in the budget battle sand rather than the debt ceiling ether, is that the latter would precipitate a financial crisis that would make 2008’s look puny, whereas the former, if effectively advanced, would thrill economic markets with the most serious action against deficits and debt since…well, ever!

Coincidentally, a few days ago Hugh Hewitt laid out such a strategy that would reassure the public in advance of the continuation of essential government services and preempt the falsity of the sob stories about Park Rangers who would eventually get their back pay:

“Selective shutdown” is a term the Republicans need to embrace and the public needs to understand.

Within a few weeks, the vast gap between President Obama’s spending objectives and the House Republicans’ agenda of fiscal restraint will become obvious. Compromise between the two will not really be possible.

The president’s attachment to Obamacare and to the EPA’s massive power grab via administrative cap-and-trade is too deep for him to give them away, while the consequences of both programs’ continuation are too devastating to the economy for House Speaker John Boehner to allow either initiative or spending generally to continue on their current paths.

The GOP can defund Obamacare and the EPA’s power grab simply by refusing to appropriate money for either effort. The House can indeed “just say no.”

The president will try and save his priorities from the chopping block by holding the rest of the federal government hostage.

Thus, Boehner and his three key allies –House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rodgers need to lay out now and explain in detail exactly what will happen over the next nine months.

The key operations of the government that should continue without interruption –Defense spending, Social Security and Medicare payments, and any other “must fund” operation—should be moved through the budget and appropriations process quickly and be in the Senate’s hands long before the impasse with the president over the other items becomes unavoidable.

Boehner needs to be explaining now that, absent the president’s embrace of the necessary fiscal restraint, the repeal of Obamacare and a reigning in of EPA, the non-necessary functions of the federal government will be closing down in the fall.

Boehner needs to start talking now about the “selective shutdown” of the federal government that is ahead if the president refuses to listen to the verdict of the voters rendered decisively in November.

At the same time, Boehner and his allies have to reassure Americans and especially senior citizens that they have provided the Senate with the bills necessary to fund Social Security, Medicare and defense, but that the president is holding these appropriations hostage in order to defend Obamacare,the bureaucrats at EPA and the leftwing broadcasters at NPR.

I have always thought it best to pursue only that strategy, rather than the usual debt ceiling bluffs that only secure minor budget concessions, or even the more consequential strategies such as Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) balanced budget rule or Economist Arthur Laffer’s ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank repeal strategies, given the unlikelihood of the Senate to go along. I also wouldn’t trust President Barack Obama to act responsibly.

But the “sequential payment of debt principal and interest plan” gives me pause.

Former two-term Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty proposes legislation that would put interest and debt payments ahead of other federal spending and allow the federal government to pay its creditors as tax revenue flows in. With the surge of tax payments that come in between April and June, that would at least buy time to try to cut spending dramatically, he said.

“This debate about how we’re going to restructure spending is inevitable. My view is, let’s have it now,” Mr. Pawlenty said in the Journal interview. “Let’s call their bluff.”

Pawlenty’s plan is bold and just might work, and if we are going to save the nation, we are going to have to be bold, and not just “cute”.

We can’t fix the budget painlessly, although I do favor the plan to simply reduce spending across the board by 10%, which would trim the budget back to 2008 levels. The budget was too big in 2008 as well, and I’m not sure that the 2008 plan would actually fire 10% of federal employees, much less all those hired to regulate us since Obama too control of pitchforks and began running the federal government like a Chicago mob that defies court rulings on net neutrality, oil drilling moratoriums and carbon emissions.

This will be serious stuff, most likely unlike the gimmick requirement that all bills contain a provision listing what parts of the Constitution authorize said bill’s subject matter, if all they do is throw in “general welfare” and “necessary and proper” clause references:

The new Republican House will henceforth require, in writing, constitutional grounding for every bill submitted. A fine idea, although I suspect 90 percent of them will simply make a ritual appeal to the “general welfare” clause. Nonetheless, anything that reminds members of Congress that they are not untethered free agents is salutary.

The battle will concern the repeal of ObamaCare as well as “regulation reversal” and preemption, which, given the recent moves by the Democratic party-controlled Senate to change filibuster rules, thankfully doesn’t allow same under current law:

Rep. Fred Upton, 57, who represents southwestern Michigan, is now chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He notes that last summer the Progressive Change Campaign Committee got 95 Democratic congressional candidates to pledge support for federal regulation of the Internet. In November, all 95 lost. Upton will try to stymie the FCC’s impertinence by using the Congressional Review Act, under which a measure to reverse a regulation gets expedited consideration and cannot be filibustered in the Senate.

The GOP House also needs to address, early and often, the matter of the State of Texas v EPA that seeks to destroy domestic oil drilling on land and sea; the folly of government by arbitrary man (instead of the rule of law) via ObamaCare waivers; government death panels via executive fiat after rejection by a Democratic Congress; and executive overreach via executive orders and regulation promulgation, in general.

Bottom Line: We will have to FIRE FEDERAL EMPLOYEES and cut entitlements. Not pleasant tasks.

It will take courage. Godspeed to the House and full steam ahead.

Mike DeVine

“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson

Charlotte ObserverThe Minority Report and Examiner.com archives