Without the first shot being fired GOP members of the House are already waving the white flag of surrender. The House will vote this week to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling for three months while denying pay for members of Congress until the Senate passes a budget. The Senate hasn’t passed a budget in almost four years.

GOP Surrender

The House GOP caucus met this past week at a retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia to map a direction forward and apparently the direction involves surrendering all principles. Speaker of the House John Boehner said in his closing remarks that the “principle is simple: no budget, no pay.”

While the concept of not paying congressmen is appealing, it’s much ado about nothing. Nothing the House does will go anywhere in the Senate and the president has already said he won’t consider a temporary increase in the debt ceiling and changes to congressional pay in the middle of a term isn’t legal; it’s one more sock-puppet show from politicians.

“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem,” Boehner continued.

GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that next week Congress will authorize the temporary debt limit to give the Senate and the House time to pass a budget.

“The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending,” the Cantor said. “The House has done so, and will again. The Democratic Senate has not passed a budget in almost four years, which is unfair to hardworking taxpayers who expect more from their representatives. That ends this year.”

The nation’s budgetary issues go far beyond annual spending authority and both Cantor and Boehner know this. The drivers of the nation’s debt sit squarely with entitlement programs such as Medicare, Social Security and now Obamacare.

GOP House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California said, “Tackling our nation’s debt requires an actual deficit reduction plan from Republicans and Democrats so the American people can evaluate the tough, but necessary choices before them.”

This latest move by the GOP is a pull-back from prior plans to stand firm on not raising the debt limit without a debt (long-term) versus deficit (short-term) plan. It’s one more move by the House leadership to avoid making difficult choices and annual budgets are only a small part of the problem.

A good measure of the uselessness of the GOP proposal is demonstrated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling the GOP move “reassuring.”

Obama dismissed the idea of a short-term debt ceiling increase at a press conference on Monday.

“We shouldn’t be doing this on a one-to-three-month time frame,” Obama said.

It’s hard to disagree with the president. For years the best our legislators have managed to do is to kick the debt can down the road. When given the opportunity to make significant moves towards addressing the nation’s debt they simply add a little lipstick to the pig they’ve created. It appears this will be one more year of the GOP adding a pretty ribbon to the long-term negative economic outlook for the nation.

The GOP is right about one thing though, they shouldn’t be paid.


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