John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Stop Digging

Posted on November 30, 2011

Congressman Denny Rehberg had an innovative proposal earlier this fall on how to control our debt problem.

He wrote the now defunct Super Committee, giving them perhaps the easiest suggestion out there on how to save close to 1.4 trillion dollars in new spending over ten years.  In the letter, he pointed out a simple strategy:  Don’t start any new entitlements.  In other words, stop digging.

“Eliminating these new programs is the quickest, clearest and most common sense path to meeting the committee’s goal,” he wrote the Committee.   And stopping them before they start, before people become dependent upon them, before bureaucracies are built to support them, before the media starts harping about how the Republic will collapse with them, before the liberal interest groups run all kinds of ads hitting Republicans for daring to oppose them, is perhaps the best way to become fiscally responsible.

The two new entitlements sound worthy on their face.  One raises the eligibility requirements for Medicaid so that the program doesn’t apply only to the poor.  The other is a new premium support program for health care insurance for the middle class.

Good ideas on their face.  But guess what?  We can’t afford it.

We are going broke.  Health care costs, without these programs, are already bankrupting the Treasury.  Right now, we have to borrow money from the Chinese in order to pay for our military.

The last thing we need right now is two new entitlements.  These programs start really ramping up in 2014, so we still have some time to kill them before they kill our budget.

One of the Super Committee members was, of course, the Senator from Montana, Max Baucus.  Baucus is working overtime to make sure that Mr. Rehberg doesn’t join him in the Senate, detailing some ex-staffers to run a so-called Super Pac to run thousands of commercials against his House colleague.

Baucus must have taken one look at the Rehberg proposal and laughed.  There is no way that the senior Senator from the Treasure State would let his friend from the lower House get any traction on his proposal.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.

They do a lot of mining in Montana, which is usually an exercise in digging deeper to get more treasure.  When you are already deep in a financial hole, though, the first step in fiscal prudence is to stop digging.  That is what Denny Rehberg proposed to the Super Committee.  The Super Committee might be history.  This idea shouldn’t be.