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Debt Ceiling for Balanced Budget Amendment   April 18th, 2011
There is only one thing Republicans should demand       

 
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Having effectively lost the first round of the battle for the budget last week, we're now looking forward to the second round: Raising the debt ceiling. There is exactly one thing Republicans should demand in return: a balanced budget amendment.

In my opinion, Republicans shouldn't ask for anything else.

If Republicans ask for anything else, the debate will get lost in the weeds. Whatever we demand, Democrats and their allies in the media will launch the standard all-out PR battle. As usual, we'll lose that battle.

So the government will shut down and eventually Republicans will be under market pressure, political pressure, and public opinion pressure. They'll reach a compromise on something that doesn't meet our agenda objectives and doesn't significantly change our fiscal course, and which won't have been worth the drama. Just like what happened last week.

And that will set us up for defeat on the FY2012 budget. Game over.

Instead, Republicans should make a non-negotiable demand for a balanced budget amendment. No debate, no discussions, no committees, no back and forth, and no bickering over whether taxes should be reduced by a dollar or whether spending should be reduced by a dollar... just a public statement that Republicans will agree to raise the debt ceiling immediately after a balanced budget amendment has passed the House and the Senate. End of discussion.

While a balanced budget amendment will eventually require cuts, demanding only a balanced budget amendment will not give Democrats anything specific to throw back at us (other than what they make up). We'll simply be demanding they actually commit to the fiscal discipline they're pretending to support. Their only possible response is to say, "Forget what we've been saying. We aren't really willing to balance the budget, but dang it, we want Republicans to allow us to spend more money."

If Democrats want to make that argument, let them. I think the public will support Republicans in holding out for a balanced budget amendment, and shame on Democrats if they don't agree to such an amendment.

Once we have a balanced budget amendment, all the other fights become possible. This is the fight we must win right now. And I think it's a fight we can win if Republican leadership has the courage not to cave.

We shouldn't ask for anything more and we shouldn't accept anything less.

    Update 4/18/2011 3:45pm: Great news, it looks like Sen. DeMint is of the same mindset.

    Throwing down the gauntlet, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint threatened Monday to block a vote in Congress on raising the U.S. debt ceiling unless he wins a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.


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