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Partisan Divisions Likely to Continue Even within the Republican Party
Meanwhile No Real Spending Cuts Made

The January 4th print copy of the Wall Street Journal says there are signs of discord in the GOP ranks as nine Republicans voted for someone other than John Boehner to be Speaker of the House. These nine members voted openly and publicly just days after 151 Republicans broke ranks with the Speaker over the "Fiscal Cliff" deal that increased the country's debt by four trillion dollars over the next ten years. By the way, every one of the Republican members from Texas voted against this measure.

The new Congress will soon be confronted with difficult votes on raising the government's ability to borrow and measures to deal with looming across-the-board spending cuts that are now scheduled to kick in on March 1st. The President has stated he will not negotiate with Congress over the nation's statutory borrowing limit, but some Republicans believe they can demand and get spending cuts. However, the question I have is if you are raising the level of money the U.S. government can borrow, haven't you already lost the battle? We have a spending problem and the only way to effectively deal with it is to live within our means, stop increasing our borrowing, start to cut spending and paying off out existing debt. Agreeing to raise the debt limit goes in the opposite direction!

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News Coverage on the
"Fiscal Cliff" and Debt Ceiling
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Benghazi Attack & National Security
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Free Market & Obamacare
State Governments & Businesses React
Tax Policy
Raising Taxes Pays for Less than 10 Days
Small Business
Why Washington Has it Wrong
Tax Policy
States Discover Link to Mass Exodus
Tax Policy
Taxpayer Behavior
Foreign Affairs
Holder in Contempt of Congress
How to Cut Spending: Here is a way in which spending can be cut, not by the across the board automatic cuts, but by targeting certain programs. Consider this: All appropriations measures for government agencies must start in the House of Representatives. If the House were to decide not to fund certain programs (e.g., zero out the funding for them) and then put language in the appropriation bills that prohibits any of the appropriated funds from being used to implement, administer, or enforce these selected programs then those selected spending cuts would be implemented. Something similar to this has been done before. Do you remember the "Hyde Amendment?" This is language put on the Health and Human Services appropriations bills that prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion services. All we need to do, is to expand the use of this type of language focusing it on specific programs.

Now let's be real! The Senate will most likely not agree to the House action and it will put the funding into their version of the bill. In the House-Senate conference committee, the House would need to stand firm and require that the Hyde-type language be included, pointing out that if the Senate conferees fail to agree to this language they will be responsible for shutting down an entire federal agency*. In doing this, the House needs to make it very clear that they are not shutting down an entire agency but only prohibiting the use of funds for specific programs run by that agency. Meanwhile people like you and me would need to support the House: Calling our Senators, writing letters to the editors of our papers, posting comments on Facebook and Twitter, and using any means at our disposal to get the word out.
* The Senate would be responsible if they refused to accept the House language, thereby stopping the bill from moving forward to the President.

When these appropriations bills are sent to the President for his signature, he may very well veto them. As these bills go to the White House we need to take the same stand need -- if the President vetoes these bills it is he, and not the Congress, that is shutting down federal agencies. Now we all know that there are not enough votes in the Congress to override a Presidential veto so there will be pressure to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the affected agencies operating. The final part of this strategy is to go ahead and pass a CR but include the language from the previous bills that prohibits the use of the federal funds for certain programs. Then the House must again stand firm, not give ground and not cave in to pressure from the White House and those on the nightly news. It must continue to make it very clear that they are not shutting down an agency (or agencies) but that they are only prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for implementing, administering and enforcing specific programs within those agencies.

What is all of this about?

It is about statesmanship. A statesman does what is right regardless of the personal cost. A statesman is not "in your face," but tries to find common ground while not giving up on his or her principles.

It's about saving our country. Ladies and gentlemen we have a spending problem and if we do not rein in the spending we will find ourselves in the same situation as the nation of Greece.

It's about issues and not personalities. It's not about bashing others. It's not "My way or the highway." It is about working together with the goal to cut spending. The people representing us in Congress need to be working with each other and reaching across the aisle, but when push comes to shove, they also need to do what is right and stick to it.

What Is This All About?
One final issue: Perhaps a lesson that can be learned from where we find ourselves today, is to think through the side effects of our actions before we act. The Congress and the White House set up a situation that they said nobody wanted -- automatic spending cuts across the board. They did this to force themselves to act on the "fiscal cliff" issue. And what happened? We avoided the automatic cuts for two months, but we still will see increases in taxes for about three-fourths of our taxpayers and we have just added four Trillion dollars to our debt over the next ten years and no real spending cuts were put in place. In the end, we may still have the automatic across the board cuts take place or find those who support targeted spending cuts being forced to "compromise" their positions in order to avoid these automatic cuts.