Congress must find conservative solution to the entitlement crisis

Congress must find conservative solution to the entitlement crisis
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Since Democrats took control of the House, there has been no shortage of bad legislation that has either been pushed through the lower chamber or advocated by progressives. Democrats were set to consider yet another “caps deal” to bust its own spending maximums set under the Budget Control Act. The Democratic leadership has pulled it from the schedule as progressives and moderates in the party disagree on spending levels. Progressives, of course, want more spending on domestic programs.

These caps only have to do with discretionary spending, excluding most of our federal entitlement programs. Make no mistake though because Democrats want to increase spending on those as well. However, lest the United States face a fiscal collision second to no other in the history of the world, we must instead reform, rather than grow, our federal entitlement programs so that we shrink our biggest federal spending programs.

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The left continues to insist, with measures like Medicare for All and the Social Security 2100 Act, that it is a good idea to expand these already near bankrupt programs. Fortunately, conservatives have a plethora of ideas on the table. They would make the step of reforming entitlements, and decreasing mandatory outlays as a result, a reality. From simply decoupling Social Security from Medicare Part A benefits for retirees or implementing a per capita cap on Medicaid spending to a full Swiss style debt break or even a balanced budget amendment to our Constitution, the scope of possible reforms is broad.

All that needs to happen is for our elected officials in Washington to put their selfishly motivated political calculations aside and do what is best and what is required to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all  foreign and domestic enemies. Each member of Congress swore to do this when he or she entered our legislative body, and many have taken this oath to serve our country multiple times.

Notably, Republicans across the country campaign in election after election on fiscal responsibility. Many Republicans in state and local governments act on their promises and contribute to balanced budgets that states and municipalities are bound to follow. However, this is not the case for others. There is nothing fiscally responsible about running away from the problem at hand and, by and large, this is what Republicans, save for a few true budget hawk conservatives, continue to do in Washington.

Sometimes, the Republican leadership and rank and file members will appear interested in the issue of fiscal responsibility while in office, paying lip service to the issue or holding a vote. However, supporting a show vote every once in a blue moon on a weak balanced budget amendment that everybody knows is doomed to fail or making the occasional floor speech about our broken budgeting process is also not enough to tackle this.

Votes such as the one on the balanced budget amendment held by the Republican leadership last April following shortly after members were coerced into passing a massive omnibus spending bill are an affront to Americans who are deceived by what their elected officials choose to send in email updates. These members know that real action is what matters, but they do not want to deal with the hardship that fighting for something they may believe in requires. But no matter what they do, the facts of the case are clear and the situation is only going to get worse.

Our $22 trillion debt is entirely unsustainable. It has more than tripled in the past decade and a half alone with no signs of slowing down. It drags down our economy and dampens the positive effects of tax reform and deregulation. It is the single greatest national security threat our country faces today. Whether the solution is seeking reforms to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, ObamaCare, welfare, or any number of other drivers of our debt, inaction is simply not an option. There is no excuse for more inaction by Congress, and especially by Republicans, on reforming entitlements and getting mandatory spending on a sustainable path.

Fiscal responsibility means prioritizing our national finances, paid for by taxpaying citizens, over the selfish motives of public officials. In Congress, this may seem a tall order, but it must be done. Members should look to champions of entitlement reform ideas for guidance to see it through.

Adam Brandon is the president of FreedomWorks. This is the first in a series of columns on budget policy and entitlement reform appearing in The Hill.