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McClintock: Why I Support the Fiscal Responsibility Act

The FRA places real constraints on future spending

By Tom McClintock, May 31, 2023 6:36 am

In 2011, Congress faced an impasse on raising the debt limit.  It was the first year of a new Republican House majority and the third year of a spendthrift Obama administration.

It’s a myth that the impasse caused Standard and Poors to downgrade the nation’s Triple-A credit rating. S&P had warned explicitly for months that Congress had to reduce its projected deficit by $4 trillion over ten years, or face a credit downgrade. Congress responded with the Budget Control Act, which suspended the debt limit and cut the projected deficit by less than half that amount. Standard and Poors promptly made good on its threat.

I voted against the Budget Control Act because it failed to preserve the nation’s triple-A credit rating. It seemed clear at the time.

Nevertheless, the BCA turned out to be the most meaningful – indeed, the only – true constraint on federal spending in the years that immediately followed.  Although it made disappointingly small cuts in current spending, it included an across-the-board sequestration mechanism that kicked in automatically when Congress failed to enact the targeted deficit reductions.

In the years that followed, I found myself defending the BCA’s sequestration provisions from bi-partisan efforts to bypass them. My vote against the BCA became the one I most regret over 15 years serving in Congress. True, it didn’t do enough to preserve our credit. But it did more to constrain federal spending than any other act since then.

I’m not going to repeat that mistake with the new agreement.

Like the BCA, there’s a lot for Republicans not to like in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. For openers, like the BCA, it only reduces current spending slightly, by clawing back tens of billions of dollars of unspent covid funds and other recissions. It’s a pittance compared to the unsustainable run-up in spending during the covid hysteria.

Like the BCA, this agreement suspends the debt limit until after the next election – perhaps as much as $4 trillion. That’s excessive, but the debt is not the problem.  The debt is a direct result of over-spending. Once government has spent a dollar, the only choice is to raise taxes, print money, or borrow.  In short, it’s the spending, stupid.

That’s the fine point of the matter. Like the BCA, the FRA places real constraints on future spending, making it the most important victory for fiscal conservatives in more than a decade.  This agreement puts in place changes that will confine spending growth to one percent a year for the next six years if done by appropriation (the 12 annual spending bills) – and requires a one percent reduction if done by continuing appropriation (the omnibus abominations).

It will reduce welfare spending by increasing the work requirements for able bodied adults collecting SNAP and TANF benefits. By reducing environmental reviews to two years, it sets the stage for increased energy production, new water storage and forest management, highway construction – in fact, every infrastructure project now delayed by endlessly time consuming and ultimately cost-prohibitive environmental reviews.  It will constrain future regulatory costs imposed by the executive agencies by subjecting them to offsetting regulatory savings. It prevents the administration from adding abusive IRS agents in the coming year. If the Supreme Court rules against the President’s arbitrary student loan forgiveness, as anticipated, it prevents the President from circumventing it by pausing repayments indefinitely. That’s nearly a trillion dollars in taxpayer savings right there.

Republicans shouldn’t compare it to the perfect. Our system of government was never designed to make perfect legislation. They shouldn’t compare it to the Limit, Save and Grow Act that was negotiated and agreed to solely among House Republicans.  With both a Senate and President of decidedly different views, the outcome is always going to be a disappointment compared to what a purely-Republican bill would do.

Republicans should instead compare it to the alternative.

Clearly, this administration intends to use a failure to increase the debt limit in the most destructive way that it can, in a calculated effort to create panic in credit rating agencies and capital markets and then push through ruinous measures of their choosing.  Events will unfold very quickly, and in a state of financial and political panic, the enormous gains made possible by this bill will be swept away.

If we are going to save our country, Republicans need to get a lot worse at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  Passing the FRA would be a good start and set the stage for additional victories to come.

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7 thoughts on “McClintock: Why I Support the Fiscal Responsibility Act

  1. Congressman McClintock,
    I respect the service you have given to this country.
    I fail to see how this bill reigns in spending. The work requirements for welfare are meager and that budget has been increased.
    It seems to retain bloated Covid policy budgets that swelled to over 6 trillion dollars. Do you really think states will return unspent covid money? Take our state for example, Newsom has redirected that money into the home key grant.

    I would hope you would reconsider your vote. This strategy is a gamble and we the citizens will be the biggest losers. If you all were real serious about budget cuts, you would not agree to an unlimited debt ceiling cap and draw back spending to pre covid budgets to 4 trillion dollars.

    It is another bill be jammed through, not even considering amendments to strengthen this bill.

  2. This bill is so weak and accomplishes so little it really is hard to swallow. Nevertheless, considering all the circumstances, I suppose Congressman McClintock, whom I respect greatly, is probably right.

    1. he is turning RINO – this unlimited cap is ridiculous and does nothing to reel in reckless spending and democrat pitching money to their pet activisms – the IRS/DOJ/FBI will be coming next year with big brother.

      Thanks R’s for doing nothing but being the Democrat punching bag yet again.

  3. Ugh, the Fiscal Responsibility Act suspends the debt limit until after the next election and it would only reduce current spending slightly by supposedly “clawing back” unspent covid funds and other recissions? That’s the best Republicans could come up with? It’s probably too late for Republicans to “save the country?” Tom McClintock is one of the reasons why the Biden regime and Democrats are in power? He voted to certify the stolen 2020 presidential election for Biden and he refused to investigate or even acknowledge any of the blatant voter fraud. He’s part of the deep-state establishment RINOs who are all talk when it comes to conservative principles when running for office but who are no action after they are elected? No doubt he’s amassed some wealth while being in office just like other RINOs have?

  4. Representative McClintock: The Fiscal Responsibility Act is not fiscally sound or responsible because it does not substantially cut spending nor does it put a solid cap on the debt limit.
    I don’t understand your rationale for supporting it. Why aren’t amendments allowed?
    Where does the bill eliminate the thousands of IRS agents? How does it reform welfare when benefits are increased? Is it true the OB director is granted the authority to increase spending at his discretion?
    The status quo is maintained at the expense of our financial and national security burdening those under 40 yrs old and future generations in debt as our country becomes a slave state… the American Dream a WOKE dystopia.

  5. Kiley and McClintock both sold out.
    How can they sit there and claim “Reduction” by passing UNLIMITED cap til 2025.

    Then spout lies on how it saves Trillions (numbers always made up – that never hold water in the end)

    UNIPARTY – We are headed to unattainable deficits and we the people are facing increasing gov agencies acting like Nazi SS — FBI is withholding Biden bribe schemes – they know it and are protecting him (think about that), DOJ is raiding any opposition to Democrats agenda making political prisoners a thing. IRS is being readied to take on middle class – as they are supplied with weaponry.

    To keep us busy they pull social divisiveness to keep our eyes on how we are losing rights (aggressively taking control) – just look what happened with covid no one could say anything about it or find other solutions, or 2020 no one could say anything there either unlike 2016 they could claim #resist or #notmypresident. We sit at 31T now, I bet in 2025 we will be at 34-35T – they figure we will forget.

  6. This is the selling point RINO’s have used for decades. “It could be a lot worse”. In other words “hold your nose and vote for us cuz the other guys are even worse”.

    NEVER do people like McClintock take a stand and do what is right, only what is easy and expedient.

    Mr. McClintock apparently is a card carrying member of the Uni-Party that shake hands in back room deals while pretending to be opponents in public.

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