MILLER: Bachmann’s pledge quandary
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is pushing to make Obamacare’s repeal a condition for raising the debt ceiling. The Minnesota congressman hasn’t signed the grass-roots “cut, cap, balance” pledge because she wants a tougher bargain that leverages President Obama’s need for increased federal government borrowing authority to pull the plug on the unpopular health care law.
Mrs. Bachmann joins Jon Huntsman as the only other GOP nomination hopeful not to take the pledge. (Mr. Huntsman refuses all pledges.) “Cut, cap, balance” is a specific promise to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless it is accompanied by significant spending cuts, future spending caps and a balanced-budget amendment passed by both the House and Senate.
“Congresswoman Bachmann has spoken with Sen. Jim DeMint, among others, regarding the cut, cap, balance proposal, and it is still under her consideration,” Rep. Bachmann’s spokesman, Becky Rogness, told The Washington Times. Mr. DeMint, South Carolina Republican, has been one of the Senate champions pushing the cause backed by 133 Tea Party chapters and 80 other conservative groups.
On the House side, the Republican Study Committee has promoted the idea, and Mrs. Bachmann is a member of the group. She also co-sponsored, along with Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican, a full Obamacare repeal as soon as the law was enacted.
“Congresswoman Bachmann stands by the call of the American people to defund Obamacare,” her spokesman explained. “Therefore, she believes all debt-ceiling-related spending-cut discussions must include the defunding of President Obama’s massive health care program.”
Mrs. Bachmann knows that repealing Mr. Obama’s signature accomplishment would become a poison pill on the debt-ceiling bill. Democrats would never give up their long-sought-after governmental takeover of the health care system. Obamacare has got to go, but the debt deal is not a realistic way to get the job done, especially because the Supreme Court may end up relieving Congress of the responsibility of delivering the fatal blow.
A GOP aide suggested that Mrs. Bachmann ought to sign on because the pledge represents a minimum requirement that “doesn’t force anyone to vote for the debt ceiling. It just says they won’t vote for it unless at least cut, cap, balance are part of the deal. Rep. Bachmann could sign the pledge and still refuse a debt-ceiling increase because of the defunding issue.”
Signing the pledge would reinforce Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign message embracing the need for deep spending cuts and limited government. It’s virtually impossible achieve the 18 percent gross-domestic product spending cap in the Balanced Budget Amendment and still pay for Mr. Obama’s $1 trillion health care boondoggle. Deep-sixing Obamacare is key to balancing the books.
Mrs. Bachmann most likely will not support the deal being negotiated by Mr. Obama and the House and Senate leaders because it does not look as if it will include the permanent and significant spending cuts that hard-core fiscal conservatives demand. When the vote comes this summer, she can push the “nay” button in the House and then continue to fight to get Obamacare off the books from the campaign trail.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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