May 09, 2011

Fiscal discipline a critical need now | The Elkins Inter-Mountain

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., makes a good point about President Barack Obama's insistence that lawmakers would be irresponsible to vote against raising the national debt limit. Manchin notes that in 2006, Obama did just that while serving as a senator from Illinois.

By mid-May, the government will reach the limit for borrowing money under current law, $14.3 trillion. Because 42 cents of every dollar spent in Washington is borrowed money, that would have a catastrophic effect. Spending for some government operations could stop. So might repayments on some money already borrowed.

But it was the same in 2006 when Obama rejected then-President George W. Bush's entreaties. Bush made much the same argument Obama is using today, but when the time came for a vote to increase the debt ceiling, the senator - already hungry to score political points in his quest for higher office - said "no."

Obama's aides have said the president now considers that a mistake. Of course he does. In 2006, he assumed that if he became president, his party would control both houses of Congress and he would have no trouble gaining approval of a debt ceiling increase.

We are on record firmly in agreement with Obama that spending was out of control during the Bush administration. Unfortunately, the pace of deficit spending has accelerated. Something needs to be done about it immediately.

That point is being made by Manchin, along with most Republicans in Congress and a few of the West Virginia senator's Democrat peers. Some, including Manchin, have threatened to vote against a debt ceiling increase unless a workable plan to curb deficit spending is put in place.

That stance is one of the few tools fiscal conservatives have available to pry deficit control concessions out of Obama and his liberal cronies.

Irresponsible, says the president. You may remember he used the same language in arguing that conservatives' demands for spending cuts might "shut down" the government a few weeks ago.

Manchin is right: At some point, fiscal conservatives have to take a stand. A few weeks ago, Obama insisted it was wrong to demand spending cuts because that might "shut down" the government. Now he says it is wrong to insist on a budget control plan because the debt ceiling must be raised.

Tomorrow, figuratively speaking, Obama will find some other reason to claim fiscal responsibility is a bad idea.

What about continuing on our current path? Is that not dangerous and wrong, too?
By:  Editorial