Tony Perkins / October 27, 2015

Generous to a Default?

If you thought your credit was a mess, you should see the government’s! With daily payments as high as $60 billion, America has been testing the brakes at the brink of spending crisis after spending crisis. Now, days away from maxing out the government’s virtual credit cards, the House and Senate are in a mad scramble to put another financial fire out: the prospect of defaulting on America’s loans.

If you thought your credit was a mess, you should see the government’s! With daily payments as high as $60 billion, America has been testing the brakes at the brink of spending crisis after spending crisis. Now, days away from maxing out the government’s virtual credit cards, the House and Senate are in a mad scramble to put another financial fire out: the prospect of defaulting on America’s loans.

As if the frenzy over ObamaCare and Planned Parenthood weren’t enough, the U.S. is about to thump its head on what’s known as the debt ceiling — another term for the country’s $18.11 trillion credit limit. For months, the November 3rd deadline has been sneaking up on a Congress preoccupied with Iran, the Defense Authorization bill, and a highly-anticipated budget reconciliation debate. Like the other last-minute budget fights, this conversation is an explosive one. For one, it puts the spotlight back on the government’s irresponsibility — as well as two radically different ways of dealing with it.

Not surprisingly, the president’s party is demanding that Congress raise the borrowing limit — no strings attached. Obviously, their idea of a solution is ballooning the debt more and pushing off long-term fiscal restraint to offset it. Republicans, on the other hand, are tired of the government living outside its means and want to tie the debt limit increase to some kind of meaningful spending reform. “I want a debt limit that gets raised,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), “but also does something about the debt.”

Apparently, that’s a non-starter in this White House. President Obama, the same man responsible for the United States’ first credit rating downgrade, refused to even consider a debt limit extension that helps prevent this problem in the future. According to an administration spokesman, the president “isn’t even negotiating with our partners on the Hill.” With time ticking down, Democrats are only digging in deeper. “I don’t have any interest in any coupling [this with other legislation],” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters bluntly.

But looking the other way while America heaps more debt on future generations has become an increasingly uncomfortable position for conservatives. A position that will almost certainly be complicated by the election of a new House Speaker. With the leadership race set to wrap up before the November 3rd debt deadline, the conversation over U.S. borrowing could take an interesting turn.

Whether it’s Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) gavel or someone else’s, the credit crisis will help set the tone for the House’s new chapter. Will the new speaker go along with a “clean” bill, uncomplicated by any sort of budget accountability? Or will he force a conversation on government spending that Democrats don’t want to have? In a government that can somehow rationalize a $2.4 million grant for origami condoms, surely we can agree: now is no time to fold.

DOJ on IRS: Live and Lerner

After last Friday, the only thing more difficult to salvage than Lois Lerner’s hard drive may be the Justice Department’s credibility. In a classic TGIF news dump, the agenda competing with the IRS for the “most corrupt office” in the Obama administration solidified its position by announcing that it was letting the mastermind of the conservative targeting scandal walk.

Despite a multi-agency conspiracy to silence conservatives applying for tax-exempt status, the DOJ is helping the IRS wriggle out of any accountability it owes the America people by refusing to indict Lerner. Citing “mismanagement, poor judgment, and inertia,” Justice officials argued there was no case for a criminal prosecution. No case? “Lerner was caught red-handed targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups, wrote partisan emails to prove it, then engaged in a massive cover-up effort — with a suspiciously crashed server, an oddly missing BlackBerry and plenty of excuses,” Investors Business Daily fired back.

As disturbing as the news is, most conservatives agree — it’s not surprising. In an administration where lawlessness is the rule (not the exception), the DOJ continues to do the White House’s bidding in covering up the IRS’s corruption. “The American people deserve better than this,” Rep. Ryan argued. “Despite the DOJ closing its investigation, the Ways and Means Committee will continue to find answers and hold the IRS accountable for its actions.” Now, despite being hauled before Congress and losing its disgraced ring-leader, it’s obvious nothing at the IRS will change. “But thanks to the Obama administration,” wrote columnist Adriana Cohen, “we’re no longer equal under the law. The rule of law is now arbitrarily applied based on political affiliation and whose pinky ring you kiss. And that’s dangerous for all of us — no matter how you vote.”

It’s just another day in the Obama administration, where the philosophy seems to be “protect the criminal, punish the innocent.” If Lerner hadn’t engaged in some of the most vicious ideological censorship in American history, why not cooperate with the investigation? And if there’s no truth to the allegations, why resign? Or plead the Fifth? “Giving Lois Lerner a free pass only reinforces the idea that government officials are above the law, and that there is no consequence for wrongdoing,” former Government Reform and Oversight Chair Darrell Issa told reporters.

In the meantime, Rep. Ryan insists that the House will continue pressing the matter until it reaches a more satisfactory conclusion. Until then, the president was right. There wasn’t a smidgeon — of justice.


This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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