Fear is the weapon of choice for Democrats intent on protecting their ability to spend - no matter the price. Administration officials insist that if they don't get an increase in the debt ceiling within the next two weeks, America will default.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner explained in a press conference Thursday, "We have no way to give Congress more time to solve this problem." Standing next to him, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "Aug. 2 is the deadline. There's no waffling from that. There's no room to squeeze into another area; that's it." In other words, it's my way or the highway.
House Speaker John A. Boehner needs to retake the initiative with actual legislation. A group of 57 GOP members sent President Obama a letter Thursday calling on him to stop risking the full faith and credit of the United States for political gain. With a projected revenue of $2.2 trillion this year, there's no reason the federal government can't make its $213 billion interest payment.
"We've figured out his game; it's not going to work," Rep. Louie Gohmert said. "It's ridiculous we have to do this through legislation, just to force the president to do what should be a no-brainer."
Mr. Gohmert filed a discharge petition Thursday to speed up a vote on his bill, which has 197 co-sponsors, to ensure soldiers, sailors and airmen are paid through any funding gaps. California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock's Full Faith and Credit Act directs the Treasury Department to pay all principal and interest due on debt.
House appropriators should take these bills, add provisions for payment of Social Security and Medicare benefits, and pass it through the lower chamber next week. Let's see Senate Democrats vote not to pay the troops or seniors. Let the president veto if he dares.
The Washington Times asked Mr. Boehner on Thursday if he supports the rank and file's strategy to guarantee debt service and other key payments. He responded, "It's pretty clear to me there's going to be some discretion about who gets paid and who doesn't if we reach this point. Remember, we do not want to reach this point."
The Ohio Republican is still holding out hope that he can cut a deal with Mr. Obama that is palatable to conservatives. "There is no reason for this debate and this discussion to get past Aug. 2nd. All it takes is a little courage to actually cut spending and put America on a path to fiscal sanity," he said.
Unless the GOP takes these issues off the table, Mr. Obama will have no incentive to make a fair deal. If he thinks he can pin the blame on Republicans, he'll continue spending future generations into poverty. Instead of showing fear, the Republican leadership needs to disarm the Democrats.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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