Debating the debt is not the problem 

Downgrading Liberalism

Liberals now blame the Tea Party for America's AAA credit rating downgrade. This is possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It's like blaming the 9/11 Commission Report for 9/11. It's like blaming report cards for my bad sixth grade report card. It's like blaming ladies for Lady Gaga. Simply because the debt problem continues to be the subject of debate does not make the debate itself the problem.

This remains true even when those responsible for the downgrade note the debate. Here's the passage from the Standard & Poor's report that Democrats have been using to blame conservative Republicans for the recent credit-rating reduction: "The political brinkmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed."

In their hurry to blame the Right, many on the Left continue to focus on the word "brinkmanship," but what they forget about is the brink. America is being pushed to the brink of what? The brink of debate? S&P spokesman David Beers explained in April: "So why the negative outlook on the U.S. government's rating? In summary, it's because when you look at the underlying fiscal challenges the U.S. government is grappling with, as well as the rising U.S. government debt burden, we think — absent a material fiscal consolidation program embraced by policymakers — that increasingly the U.S. government's fiscal position will diverge from that of its key 'AAA' peers."

The "material fiscal consolidation program" to address the "rising U.S. government debt burden" was the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan passed by the Republican-controlled House and tabled by the Democratic Party-controlled Senate. This plan would have substantively cut spending, capped it for the time being, and begun the process of ratifying a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The Democrats called this plan too "extreme," while President Barack Obama said, "We don't need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs."

Sorry, but yes you do Mr. President. Recent history tells us that the Democrats have no intention of doing their job to spend taxpayer dollars wisely. If the GOP offered Cut, Cap, and Balance, what substantive solution did the Democrats offer? None, other than the usual mantra of raising taxes on "the rich" and increasing spending. "The rich" are defined as anyone making above $250,000 a year, which includes most of the small businesses needed for any potential economic recovery. Some have estimated that even if we taxed "the rich" at 100 percent, it wouldn't keep the federal government operating for more than a few days. The very notion of raising revenues this way is not only absurd, but it would stunt new economic growth.

In our present situation, spending cuts are an absolute necessity. The Obama-John Boehner agreement offers no actual cuts; it only decreases the amounts of our proposed spending. Only in Washington, D.C., can increased spending be defined as a "cut."

The S&P warned that the "division of opinion" between Democrats and Republicans on how to cut spending and pay down our debt will be difficult to achieve over the next two years. Right now, only the new crop of Tea Party Republicans have proposed the $4 trillion cut recommended by Standard and Poor's.

The real, seemingly permanent divide is not between Republicans and Democrats per se, but between the liberals who dominate both parties and the small group of conservatives currently residing in the GOP. For example, there were many Republicans who opposed the Obama-Boehner deal because they said it "cut" defense spending. This is false. There aren't any actual cuts in Pentagon spending any more than there are actual cuts to the Democrats' beloved domestic programs.

But there should be. Conservatism, in a word, is about limits. Liberalism has always relied on limitless government. Frustrated liberals who complain the Tea Party is oblivious to facts and history are right to be frustrated, as their post-New Deal, post-Great Society America now clashes with the new reality of economic unsustainability. The Tea Party doesn't reject facts or history; hard financial facts now reject the history of American liberalism. The Left simply cannot imagine a less powerful federal government. This is also true of Republicans who can't imagine a United States that isn't the policeman of the world, another utopian project more Americans agree must come to an end.

Nobody wants to hear that the big-government party is over, but it is. The current debate is now between the realists who accept it and the idealists who reject it — and to say the debate is the problem is to say there should be no debate.

Jack Hunter is the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and he co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington.

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