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October 6, 2015

Busting the Sequester Means Busting Any Claim to Being Limited-Government Republicans

 

Remember in December 2013 when Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray reached a two-year budget outline that broke the sequester limits in some areas, but promised to make it all up down the road by making cuts in other areas? 

The Institute for Policy Innovation was skeptical. We argued that the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created the sequester mechanism, had been Congress’s best—indeed, only—successful effort to cut government spending. That those cuts demonstrably improved the economy and were a major factor behind the U.S. deficit decline.  

Secondly, IPI argued that once the caps had been broken it would be much easier to set them aside a second time, or to just end them completely. 

Now, here we are in October 2015 and President Obama has said he will veto any budget that doesn’t bust the spending caps. And some Republicans have responded by saying that would be fine with them. 

Because the truth is that, regardless of the GOP’s repeated claims that it is the party of limited government and fiscal responsibility, many—though, thankfully, far from all—Republicans are also big spenders. They proved that when they controlled the government from 2001-2007.  

Of course, Republicans want to avoid a government shutdown, because the media will take Obama’s side, whatever he does. But they also should avoid caving on the sequester. 

That means pushing through budgets that keep the spending caps and sending them to the president to veto. And if the budget deadline arrives and Obama won’t sign a budget, then send him a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running, which he recently said he also won’t sign. 

We know Obama doesn’t like to veto legislation—he has only vetoed four so far—because Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has done whatever he could, whether constitutional or not, to protect him from having to do that. 

The Ryan-Murray budget gave Republicans cover to bust the sequester spending caps. But, because the sequester is still one of the best budget actions Republicans have taken to return the country to fiscal responsibility, busting them would be one of the worst things they could do. Better to send budgets to the president that keep the caps, and make him veto them.


 

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