Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Congressman Ron Paul Votes Against HR 2560 Cut, Cap, And Balance Act, Even Though He Signed A Cut, Cap, And Balance Pledge As A Presidential Candidate

On July 19th, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 2560, the "Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011" by a margin of 234-190. HR 2560 would cap the amount of government spending (as a share of GDP) while also paving the way for the states to ratify a Balanced Budget Amendment to the constitution. Only a simple majority was required to pass the bill. Voting was overwhelmingly along party lines; one of the five courageous Democrats voting in favor was Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT), who's taking some heat in the Salt Lake Tribune comments section from progressives as a result.

Alaska Congressman Don Young did not cast a vote on the bill. It passed without his help, but I'm disappointed he missed a good opportunity to put himself on public record. APRN has since reported that Young is attending a fishing trip in Whittier, AK for a charity that raises money for Alaska Native families battling cancer. The charity is named for his late wife Lu Young and is run by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

But surprisingly, one Republican Congressman voting against HR 2560 was Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX14). Yes, THAT Ron Paul -- the same Ron Paul who was the first Republican presidential candidate to sign a cut, cap, and balance pledge. But not to worry; Ron Paul hasn't changed his mind on cut, cap, and balance -- he hasn't become a tax-and-spend liberal overnight.

The problem is that Ron Paul did not like the bill because it doesn't go far enough. It completely exempted military spending, Social Security, and Medicare from consideration. Business Insider recorded the meat of his objections:

First, it purports to eventually balance the budget without cutting military spending, Social Security, or Medicare. This is impossible. These three budget items already cost nearly $1 trillion apiece annually. This means we can cut every other area of federal spending to zero and still have a $3 trillion budget. Since annual federal tax revenues almost certainly will not exceed $2.5 trillion for several years, this Act cannot balance the budget under any plausible scenario.

Second, it further entrenches the ludicrous beltway concept of discretionary vs. nondiscretionary spending. America faces a fiscal crisis, and we must seize the opportunity once and for all to slay Washington's sacred cows-- including defense contractors and entitlements. All spending must be deemed discretionary and reexamined by Congress each year. To allow otherwise is pure cowardice.

Third, the Act applies the nonsensical narrative about a "Global War on Terror" to justify exceptions to its spending caps. Since this war is undeclared, has no definite enemies, no clear objectives, and no metric to determine victory, it is by definition endless. Congress will never balance the budget until we reject the concept of endless wars.

Finally, and most egregiously, this Act ignores the real issue: total spending by government. As Milton Friedman famously argued, what we really need is a constitutional amendment to limit taxes and spending, not simply to balance the budget. What we need is a dramatically smaller federal government; if we achieve this a balanced budget will take care of itself.

If you read Congressman Paul's complete floor speech, you'll note that he also objects to the provision which would authorize a $2.4 trillion rise in the debt limit. He's never voted for an increase in the debt ceiling, and he wasn't about to do so now.

Under the circumstances, I can understand and accept his No vote. It is ludicrous for us to continue sustaining our costly worldwide military empire when we have a $14 trillion debt, at the expense of other worthy programs that will get cut. Our continuing presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo is utterly illogical. None of these missions have anything to do with our national defense.

Another Republican voting against it was Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). She also signed the cut, cap, and balance pledge as a presidential candidate. Rep. Bachmann opined that HR 2560 does not go far enough in fundamentally restructuring the way Washington spends taxpayer dollars.

HR 2560 faces stiff opposition in the Senate. We already know that both Alaska Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski have reservations about it. Even in the unlikely event that the Senate passes it, President Obama has threatened to veto the legislation.


  1. I do agree with Dr. Paul, but it has got me wondering, although H.R.2560 definitely does not go far enough: Is something better than nothing? Thoughts?

  2. Rand Paul actually disagrees with Ron Paul on this issue; he would have voted Yes on 2560. I would think that perhaps an initial goal ought to be to stop the growth of the debt first, show that we can reduce spending, then take steps to actually shrink the debt as we restore prosperity and create more jobs.

    This assumes that we can restore prosperity and that the economy isn't on a countdown to Armageddon.