The "Fiscal Responsibility Act" – A Bad Deal for America

May 31, 2023

Madame President,

Thirty-two trillion dollars—it's a colossal sum, burdening every American taxpayer. It's a tangible reflection of the prodigious debt accumulated over decades of reckless spending. The ramifications of our bloated national debt are far-reaching, felt in the daily lives of hardworking families crushed under the weight of relentless inflation. The prices of everyday necessities continue to rise, eroding purchasing power and placing an intolerable burden on America's shoulders. This staggering figure ought to jolt us from our complacency, send shivers down our spines, and compel us to confront the dire consequences of our own fiscal irresponsibility.

Amidst the gravity of our nation's current predicament, we find ourselves standing at a precipice—a pivotal moment where our choices today will shape our economic outlook tomorrow. The burden of our national debt and the relentless grip of inflation have placed us at this critical juncture, demanding nothing less than a resolute and visionary response.

Regrettably, the lopsidedly negotiated "Fiscal Responsibility Act," heralded by Speaker McCarthy and President Biden, fails to provide the respite our nation desperately needs. Rather than offering substantive solutions to tackle the root causes of our fiscal woes, it appears to be a palliative pill.

It's a bad deal for America—a missed opportunity to confront our challenges, an abdication of our responsibility to protect Americans' economic security and well-being. 

We can and must do better. 

We must abandon the complacency that has brought us to this point and chart a new course—a course that values fiscal sanity.

We can no longer afford to settle for half-measures and short-term fixes. We desperately need a comprehensive and responsible plan—one that addresses the root causes of our fiscal predicament, curtails the bloated bureaucracy, and empowers American families to thrive.

It's time to go back to the drawing board.

Failure to do so is to ignore the lessons of history. Nations that neglect their fiscal health often face economic calamity and social upheaval. We are obligated to ourselves and future generations to break free from this cycle of debt and inflation to forge a path of prosperity and sustainability.

And so, Madame President, I must express my profound disappointment over the Orwellian named "Fiscal Responsibility Act.” 

In juxtaposition to the "Limit Save Grow" (LSG) Act, the ambitious plan by House Republicans, the meager offerings of the McCarthy-Biden deal are profound.

First, House GOP leadership proclaims that the Fiscal Responsibility Act will save $1.5 trillion over a 10-year period through the two-year caps deal. But therein lies a deception.

The supposed savings are largely illusory. The bill contains a mandatory two-year caps deal for discretionary spending, but in reality, the spending limits for the other four years are unenforceable and easily waived. It's a shell game, a carefully orchestrated act to create the illusion of savings. But history has shown us that no caps deal has ever been fully enforced against future appropriations. 

The most recent and relevant example of this is Congress raising the Budget Control Act of 2011’s statutory caps on discretionary spending 4 separate times in a bipartisan fashion over the decade that followed - completely negating the purported savings of that bill. And unlike the BCA’s 10-year statutory caps - the FRA has only two years which can easily be maneuvered around themselves. 

And yet, House leadership wants us to rubber-stamp a mammoth increase of 4 trillion dollars for a $1.5 T of claimed deficit reduction - the vast majority of which is unlikely to be realized. And what did they demand in return? What did they extract to ensure this colossal sum would not go unchecked?

A meager $12 billion. 

A drop in the ocean compared to our nation's monumental burden. And that's a best-case scenario considering that rather than raising the debt ceiling by a specific amount, the deal raises it through January 1, 2025. It grants the Treasury authority to issue debt without any numerical limit to restrain its appetite. It's a carte blanche, a blank check for the government to spend without accountability.

This deal begs the question: with Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?

We deserve better. We deserve a deal that genuinely reflects the urgency of our economic challenges and delivers meaningful results.

To grant such a colossal debt ceiling increase while settling for a mere $12 billion in immediate savings is an act of fiscal irresponsibility and a betrayal of the trust placed in us.

Equally disheartening is the state of work requirements within this deal. Limit Save Grow championed a robust approach, acknowledging the importance of promoting self-sufficiency. In contrast, the swamp deal offers only token requirements, riddled with exemptions and gradual phase-outs. It is a farce, a charade that perpetuates the vicious cycle of entitlement, leaving countless Americans trapped in the clutches of dependency.

In matters of fiscal prudence, Limit Save Grow stood firm in its determination to repeal the Democrats' 1.2 trillion dollar Inflation Reduction Act. Yet, in its lamentable capitulation, the McCarthy-Biden deal preserves every cent of the Inflation Reduction Act, leaving our nation mired in a quagmire of unsustainable and expensive policies that have done anything but reduce inflation.

The consequences of this surrender are grave. It grants President Biden everything without meaningful safeguards or provisions to address the pressing issues. While it may be hailed as a triumph of bipartisanship, the American people will ultimately bear the brunt of its shortcomings.

They'll bear the brunt with the implementation of Biden's half-trillion-dollar student loan plan. A plan which now stands as a testament to Biden’s misplaced priorities, a millstone around the neck of hardworking individuals who will never benefit from such largesse. It is a stark reminder that while the government claims to champion the cause of equality and opportunity, it is often the very policies it enacts that perpetuate inequality and hinder genuine progress. The hardworking veterans, the diligent plumbers, and countless others made to shoulder the weight of others' degrees while relegating their own aspirations and dreams to the sidelines.

It is a profound injustice when we shift the burden of personal choices and individual responsibilities onto those who have already toiled and sacrificed. That's what we're voting for with this bill. 

We’re saying it’s okay to force those who labor in essential trades to bear the financial burden of others' educational pursuits. This is a patently unfair and bold-faced patronage racket. And like all good rackets, you need your strong-armed collector. And this administration found theirs in the IRS.

The egregious expansion of the IRS is epitomized by the Democrats' allocation of $80 billion to this bloated agency with a demonstrated history of unethical targeting of conservative non-profits. The compromise reached between Biden and McCarthy, which retains 98% of the IRS expansion, is nothing short of surrender. Armed with a hefty budget and a woke agenda, the IRS will become an even stronger instrument of political bias and partisan manipulation. The merging of ideology and bureaucracy poses a grave threat to the fabric of our republic, eroding the trust and confidence that should underpin our tax system.

It might be true that this bill attempts to claw back some of the unspent COVID funds and CDC global health funding. But while they point to rescinding roughly $28 billion in unspent COVID funds, we must acknowledge that much of that will merely offset spending increases elsewhere. This deal falls woefully short, failing to seize this opportunity to maximize the potential of these unutilized resources. 

The cherry on top of this deal from hell is the glaring omission of the REINS Act.

Limit, Save, Grow incorporated the REINS Act, which seeks to ensure that every major regulation put forth by a federal agency has to pass through Congressional scrutiny. We were finally going to close that loop and say agencies can write laws, but they cannot be self-executing. Congress will be the lawmaker.

The REINS Act is about so much more than regulatory reform. It’s accountability to the public. It’s about the Republican form of government as a whole. It was about the American people being put adequately on notice as to what their responsibilities are. James Madison, in Federalist 62, said, "It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood: if they be repealed or revised before they are promulg[at]ed, or undergo such incessant changes, that no man who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow."

We are now in a circumstance where not only are our laws so voluminous and complex and ever-changing, we can't read them, but men and women of our choosing do not even write them. That is as big of a miscarriage of justice as it exists. This unreviewable legislative discretion has historically been reserved for despots and tyrants. 

The cited excuse for this glaring exclusion is that this deal imposes an administrative pay-go provision. However, this is easily waived and bereft of any significant congressional role in the regulatory process. 

Let's not be naïve to the realities of implementation. This process will be artfully manipulated in the hands of a Democratic-led Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The bureaucrats, masters of their bureaucratic chicanery, will exploit every nook and cranny of the legislation to generate fake direct savings. The noble intentions behind this provision will be buried beneath a mountain of smoke and mirrors.

Because within the fine print lies a loophole that renders the endeavor toothless. The OMB director possesses complete waiver authority. If she deems it "necessary for program delivery," they can circumvent the provisions that purport to rein in the excesses of the bureaucratic machinery. It is akin to placing a fox in charge of the henhouse, granting them the discretion to determine when the rules apply and when they can be conveniently cast aside.

Don’t believe me? It didn’t take long for the OMB director to say the quiet part out loud. When asked about the PAYGO waiver authority included in the Biden-McCarthy deal, Director Shalanda Young said, "if that waiver is deemed necessary to make sure President Biden's agenda is carried forward, we're going to use that authority." 

They’re not even pretending to negotiate in good faith. 

In fact, Democrats are doing everything they can to hide their excitement over this deal.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), who is undecided, said the president “kicked McCarthy's butt.”

Madame President

In contemplating the magnitude of our national debt, a colossal sum of 32 trillion dollars, one cannot help but be seized by a sense of foreboding. This staggering figure should serve as a haunting reminder of the consequences of our profligate ways, a testament to the grave irresponsibility that has permeated our political landscape for far too long. Instead of confronting this existential threat head-on, this deal is racked with complacency and compromise, placating the discontented without addressing the root of the problem. It's the child of uncertainty, born out of fear of confrontation, lack of conviction, and represents the victory of expediency over integrity.