By Marc A. Thiessen, Monday, January 21, 2013 –
They should be holding today’s inauguration on the deck of the USS Missouri instead of the steps of the U.S. Capitol, so Barack Obama can formally accept the surrender of the GOP. Before Obama even places his hand on the Bible today, his rout of the House Republicans is already virtually complete. Not only have Republicans capitulated on taxes by violating their no tax pledge, Republican leaders have now announced that they are capitulating on spending as well, by violating the “Boehner rule.”
In the 2011 debt-limit standoff, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) established the Boehner rule, declaring that henceforth Republicans would insist on at least one dollar in spending cuts for every dollar in debt limit increase. This may have been one of the most important fiscal policy innovations in a generation. The rule is simple, it is perfectly reasonable, and it is broadly popular. A recent poll found that 72 percent of Americans agreed that “Any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by spending cuts and reforms of a greater amount.” Only 22 percent disagreed.
Most importantly, the Boehner rule is not a gimmick. Just following this basic rule could restore fiscal sanity to our country. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has calculated that following the Boehner rule would reduce spending by more than $3 trillion over a decade and pave the way for full balance — getting the budget deficit to below 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and spending below 20 percent of GDP, by 2022. On Tuesday, Portman will introduce the “Dollar-for-Dollar Deficit Reduction Act,” which would codify the Boehner rule and mandate that any future increase in the national debt be matched with equal or greater spending cuts.