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July 25th, 2011 11:08 pm
Knowing When To Say Yes

Some hard-liners in the House are refusing to support John Boehner’s latest plan. They seem to believe it’s doesn’t achieve enough savings.

Not to be too blunt about it, but they need to get a clue.

James Capretta, who trashed the Gang of Six plan, says Boehner’s plan is okay. So does Grover Norquist.

Here’s what they understand: $1.2 trillion of savings from domestic discretionary programs, with real, enforceable budget caps, over ten years, is a huge accomplishment. And it still leaves on the table some of the low-hanging entitlement fruit (a “chained” Consumer Price Index adjustment) and some of the mid-hanging entitlement fruit (hiking the Medicare eligibility age merely to coincide with that of Social Security). So that means that part of the other $1.6 trillion in savings, to come from the later commission, is actually likely to be fairly easy to achieve as well.

The history is this: Never before has Congress used the debt ceiling hike to force serious budget savings. Any successful use of this debate toward that end should be counted as a significant accomplishment. Sure, some on the hard right — and I have ALWAYS been hard-right on cutting spending — may complain that Boehner’s plan isn’t as good as the original “Cut, Cap, and Balance.” So the bleep what. Anybody who ever expected CC&B to become law in its original form wasn’t living in the real world. James Madison and Roger Sherman didn’t design our system to allow one House to steamroll both the other congressional chamber and the president (although they did indeed give more power to the House of Reps. vis-a-vis the president, on domestic issues, than it has historically made use of).  The U.S. government is designed to force compromise.

Frankly, the Boehner plan isn’t a 50-50 compromise; it’s a win for conservatives, for fiscal responsibility, and for the nation. It effectively changes the trajectory of spending for the first time since Washington started bingeing again (after three good years) in the fall of 1998. It’s a remarkable achievement when working against the most leftist president in history. Conservatives should not torpedo it.

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