Time to be the Speaker

I have a simple plea to John Boehner – be the Speaker.

The Speaker of the House can dictate what spending gets done and what doesn’t, if he uses his constitutional powers.

The president can merely sign or reject anything passed by the Congress.

The Senate can merely accept or amend anything passed by the House.

It is Boehner’s House that holds all the cards in the spending/tax debate. So, come back from Christmas and start playing them.

The next conversation that Speaker Boehner should have with President Obama should start with the following words; “In the next Continuing Resolution, not one dime will be spent on ObamaCare implementation unless you support substantial budget cuts right now and we avoid this fiscal cliff.”

If Obama balks, and we go over the cliff, the first order of business for the House in 2013 should be the passage of a tax overhaul package that is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013. Put the ball in Harry Reid and Obama’s court. Yes, they can do that.

The overhaul package, which House Republicans had planned on doing anyway, should reform and simplify the existing system and be revenue-neutral. There will be winners and losers, but this action will allow Republicans to re-set the tax issue, and restore some credibility that they are the party of both lower taxes and simplification of the tax code.

If Obama and Reid fail to act on the overhaul, the House should force action through either the impending debt-ceiling “crisis” or the upcoming government shutdown “crisis.” Both crises are planned, knowable and, as a result, usable to get our nation’s fiscal situation in order.

As a reminder to everyone playing the fiscal-cliff game, the stakes are not about who is Speaker, or who wins, it is about whether our nation is going to continue along the insane path of spending a trillion-plus dollars more each year than we bring in.

With revenues currently running about $100 billion a year off the highest amount ever collected in history (2007,) and spending at more than $800 billion more than was spent in that same year, it is clear to anyone who honestly looks at our nation’s budget that spending must go down significantly for our nation to get off the debt treadmill.

And that is why Boehner needs to start acting like the Speaker of the House and tell Obama that spending will fall with him or without him.

If Obama chooses to go off fiscal cliffs, shut down the government or default on our national debt due to his insistence on maintaining unsustainable spending levels, he loses.

While in the short term none of these outcomes are good, in the long run, it will only be through forcing tough decisions and real cuts that our nation’s economic vigor will be restored.

So, Speaker Boehner, be of good cheer. You actually hold the cards, if you are only willing to play them.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government

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