Obama Needs to Take Charge on Debt Reduction

Senator John Cornyn
2013-02-25 16:03:10
THE LONESTAR WEEKLY Senator Cornyn�s E-Newsletter The Lonestar Weekly* *Partial Government Shutdown May Be Needed To Restore Fiscal Sanity* *'It May be Necessary to Partially Shut Down the Government in Order to Secure the Long-Term Fiscal Well Being of Our Country'* *The following op-ed first appeared in the *Houston Chronicle: [link 1] [link 2] Texans would have been hit with the biggest tax increase in the history of our country if Congress failed to act on the American Taxpayer Relief Act in the early hours of 2013. The question I faced was, "Would Texans be better off with a massive tax increase?" In good conscience, I could not allow this to take place. I don't believe Washington needs more money; I believe Texans should keep more of their hard-earned dollars, which is why I voted for the act. This bill, while admittedly not perfect, makes tax cuts permanent for nearly all Texans. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the fiscal cliff ordeal was that President Obama engaged in the same type of brinksmanship that has become his hallmark. For the fourth time in two years, he stalled and delayed on critical fiscal policy actions. In December 2010, it was the two-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. In the spring of 2011, a government shutdown was narrowly averted by a midnight vote on Capitol Hill. The following summer brought us to the brink once more when the president walked away from the negotiating table on a deal surrounding the debt ceiling. And, of course, Congress rang in the new year with a last-minute escape from the largest tax increase in American history. In every instance, the looming deadline for action has been obvious. And in every instance, the White House has purposefully slow-walked the process in a shameless attempt to score cheap political points. The result has been a series of manufactured crises that have brought the country to the brink of economic catastrophe. This is a terrible, acrimonious way of doing business. It diminishes global confidence in the United States, and it is a disservice to the American people. Simply put, this must change. Over the next few months, we will reach deadlines related to the debt ceiling, the sequester and the continuing appropriations resolution that has funded federal operations since October. If history is any guide, President Obama won't see fit to engage congressional Republicans until the 11th hour. In fact, he has already signaled an unwillingness to negotiate over the debt ceiling. This is unacceptable. The president should immediately put forward a plan that addresses these deadlines, and he should launch serious, transparent budget negotiations. The biggest fiscal problem in Washington is excessive spending, not insufficient taxation. Tax cuts didn't cause this problem, so tax increases won't solve it. If we don't reduce spending and reform our three biggest entitlement programs - Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security - then we will strangle economic growth, destroy jobs and reduce our standard of living. With the national debt above $16 trillion, and with more than $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities hanging over us, our toughest fiscal decisions cannot be postponed any longer. Republicans are more determined than ever to implement the spending cuts and structural entitlement reforms that are needed to secure the long-term fiscal integrity of our country. The coming deadlines will be the next flashpoints in our ongoing fight to bring fiscal sanity to Washington. It may be necessary to partially shut down the government in order to secure the long-term fiscal well being of our country, rather than plod along the path of Greece, Italy and Spain. President Obama needs to take note of this reality and put forward a plan to avoid it immediately. News Releases* ****February 21: Cornyn Calls on Obama to Withdraw Hagel Nomination [link 3] February 21: Cornyn Requests Extension on Decision to List Lesser Prairie Chicken as Threatened Species [link 4] February 20: Cornyn Ranked 2nd Most Conservative Senator [link 5] February 19: Cornyn Responds to the President�s Call to Prevent His Sequester [link 6] February 14: Cornyn Statement on Hagel Vote [link 7] February 14: National Taxpayers Union Letter of Support for Balanced Budget Amendment [link 8] February 14: Americans for Tax Reform Letter of Support for Balanced Budget Amendment [link 9]**** ****February 13: NFIB Letter of Support For Balanced Budget Amendment [link 10] February 13: Cornyn, Senate Republicans Introduce Balanced Budget Amendment [link 11]**** ****February 12: Cornyn: The President's Past State of the Unions Offer Unfulfilled Promises [link 12] �**** Social Media* Sen. Cornyn regularly updates his profiles with the latest news and developments from around Texas and Capitol Hill. [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/images/twitter.gif] [link 13]� [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/images/facebook.gif] [link 14]� [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov/images/youtube.gif] [link 15]� [image = cornyn.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/Flickr.png] [link 16] Texas Times Column* *February 20: Texas Treasure Returns to the Alamo [link 17] February 5: Honoring Members of our Greatest Generation [link 18] January 28: Remembering the Crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia [link 19] December 14: Tales of Christmas Past In Texas [link 20] November 20: A Message of Thanksgiving [link 21] September 14: Cowtown On The Open Seas: Commissioning the USS Fort Worth [link 22] August 29: A Texas Town with an Abundance of Books [link 23] August 10: Back To School On The Texas Frontier [link 24] July 27: Don�t Mess With Texans� Hard-Earned Success [link 25] July 2: Remembering The Sacrifices Behind Independence Day [link 26] �* �*��*

Obama Needs to Take Charge on Debt Reduction 
 �Presidents have traditionally understood that reform and results take leadership. Yet President Obama doesn't seem to care. He prefers to play the blame game - giving speeches and knocking down straw men - rather than do something about our skyrocketing debt. In short: he takes the easy way out.�

The following op-ed authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) first appeared in :

Debates over U.S. government debt are as old as America itself.

When the first Congress took office in 1789, our country was grappling with a mountain of financial obligations. But within five years, writes historian John Steele Gordon, we had "the highest credit rating in Europe," and a French diplomat marveled that U.S. bonds were "safe and free from reverses."

Sadly, our fiscal reputation is no longer so pristine. It will continue to decline unless we break the cycle of deficits that has made our gross national debt larger than the entire U.S. economy.

Our debt has increased by nearly $6 trillion since President Obama entered the White House and it is projected to increase by another $9.5 trillion over the next decade. Yet the president stubbornly refuses to show the leadership necessary to get our long-term finances under control.

President Obama always talks about a "balanced approach" to debt reduction but he hasn't done much to support a balanced approach, despite having numerous opportunities. He could have adopted the blueprint offered by his own bipartisan fiscal commission. But he ignored it. Alternatively, he could have embraced the strategy outlined by House Republicans. But he ignored that plan, too.

The president doesn't seem to appreciate the urgency of the moment. He doesn't seem to appreciate that our country is headed for a real crisis.

Republicans have shown that we are willing to support a budget that reduces our long-term debt. But the only way America will make real progress on debt reduction is if President Obama follows suit. Unfortunately, he seems allergic to genuine bipartisan compromises.

Until the Obama Administration, virtually every landmark domestic-policy change in modern U.S. history was achieved with bipartisan support. For example, both the 1935 Social Security Act and the 1964 Civil Rights Act were signed by a Democratic president and endorsed by a large majority of Senate Republicans. The 1996 Welfare Reform Act signed by President Clinton was backed by every single member of the GOP Senate caucus, along with a majority of Senate Democrats.

Likewise, during the Reagan years, most Senate Democrats voted for the 1983 Social Security Amendments, and a whopping 94% of Senate Democrats voted for the 1986 Tax Reform Act. Under President George W. Bush, 84% of Senate Democrats voted for the No Child Left Behind Act.

In other words, presidents have traditionally understood that reform and results take leadership.

Yet President Obama doesn't seem to care. He prefers to play the blame game -- giving speeches and knocking down straw men -- rather than do something about our skyrocketing debt. In short: he takes the easy way out. 

Real debt reduction will require real presidential leadership -- the kind of leadership that President Clinton displayed in 1993, when he convinced 47% of Senate Democrats and 40% of House Democrats to defy the unions and support the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Since then, U.S. trade with Canada has nearly tripled and U.S. trade with Mexico has increased almost sixfold.)

My hope is that President Obama will show the kind of leadership we have seen throughout our nation's history. He has acknowledged that no amount of tax increases could sustain Medicare in its present form. He has also said that public officials who are concerned about preserving government assistance for the elderly and the needy "have an obligation" to reform our entitlement programs and ensure their long-term viability. Yet he has done little to act on his own words, choosing instead to demagogue GOP reform efforts.

Thus, Washington keeps spending money we don't have and saddling our children with more debt. Meanwhile, our safety-net programs are spiraling toward a collapse that would leave the poor and the elderly even more vulnerable. It's time for President Obama to move beyond the partisan rhetoric, drop the gimmicks and do what's right for our country.

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