WASHINGTON (ABP) – A Southern Baptist policy expert criticized a July 22 Senate vote rejecting a House bill to cut spending and require a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.
Senators voted 51-46 along party lines against a “cut, cap and balance” measure brought forth by House Republicans and backed by social conservatives including the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats killed our best chance of getting our government’s spending under control,” said Barrett Duke, vice president for public policy and research for the SBC’s agency on “applied Christianity” on Saturday’s Richard Land Live radio show.
“Cut, cap and balance would have reined in the government and solved this problem once and for all, because it would have required a constitutional amendment that would have capped government spending and tied it to a percentage of gross domestic product.”
Duke said previous budget-balancing measures capped spending based on projected income, giving lawmakers an out to protect programs by setting unrealistic projections for income.
Sitting in for regular host Richard Land, who was traveling out of the country, Duke said the cut, cap and balance approach “would put our country on a path toward fiscal sustainability once again.”
“We really do need cut, cap and balance or something like it,” Duke said. He took strong exception to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who labeled the idea “cruel, stupid and dangerous.”
“I think it’s cruel to continue to add $1.2 trillion in debt on our children every year,” Duke said. He said the best plan so far cuts spending by $4 trillion over the next 10 years while continuing to borrow $10 trillion during the same time frame.
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s cruel,” Duke said. “Furthermore, it’s stupid to think we can keep doing the same thing and get a different result. That’s actually the definition of insanity.”
He also called it “dangerous” to assume that raising the debt ceiling without controlling spending will satisfy those who determine the United States’ credit rating. Moody’s, a firm that rates credit for global markets, warned July 19 that raising the debt limit without cutting expenditures can be “credit negative.”
The ERLC is one of 220 conservative groups –- including Tea Party groups -– to support a plan that makes raising the debt ceiling, scheduled to reach the $14.3 trillion maximum the government can legally borrow on Aug. 2, contingent on future passage of a balanced-budget amendment.
Senate Democrats said the bill had no chance of passing, and even if it did President Obama has threatened to veto it, and there is no point in wasting time by debating it.
“The Bible says this, the rich rules over the poor and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave,” Duke wrapped up Saturday’s broadcast. "I don’t want to be anybody’s slave. Let’s get out of this mess once and for all. Let’s pass a constitutional amendment that caps spending and puts this government on an allowance and a profit sharing plan.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.