Last week, President Obama said he was going to “call the bluff” of his opponents when it came to fiscal discipline. Eric Cantor said he wasn’t bluffing, and took to the always fair and balanced New York Post to say so.
I like Eric Cantor and he has my vote to be Speaker of the House (god willing) next year, and like most on the Right I want to believe Republicans have learned their lesson when it comes to “spending” and “restraint,” but I’m not convinced yet. That’s why Cantor does what most do; present his case in two parts.
First, repent for ye past sins…
Republicans were fired from the majority years ago largely because we failed to live up to our own standard of being wise guardians of taxpayer dollars. That was then. Today, a new generation of conservative leaders is ready to make the genu inely tough choices necessary to pull our country back from the fiscal cliff.
Then, present ideas…
* Start by scheduling a clean up-or-down vote on each of the program terminations that Obama recommended in his budget this year. Not every member will agree with each proposal, but they each deserve a fair debate and a fair vote. Can’t a Democratic Congress even give fair consideration to spending cuts proposed by a Democratic president?
* Second, announce a bipartisan agreement that we will not proceed with any new “stimulus” spending that is not paid for with spending cuts somewhere else. For example, rather than just spending another $34 billion on unemployment benefits, let’s pay for it by cutting other, less important, spending. (It’s the refusal of congressional Democrats to find offsetting cuts that is now preventing the extension of jobless benefits.)
* Third, freeze the pay of federal civilian employees for one year. Millions of private-sector workers have taken pay cuts; there’s no reason why the government can’t impose its own measure of austerity. This proposal already has bipartisan support: 18 House Democrats recently supported a similar measure offered by Republicans.
We’ll see. Remember, the Internets are watching.