Tanner on debt limit debate

Geoffrey Lawrence

Those following the national debate on whether Congress should raise the federal debt ceiling will find this article from Cato’s Michael Tanner extremely interesting.

Tanner criticizes the obstinance of Congressional Democrats and President Obama in failing to give consideration to the modest proposal for spending reform offered by Congressional Republicans even though they have failed to produce one of their own. I find Tanner’s remarks extremely poignant and have quoted them at length below:

The president did announce a budget back in February, but he has since disavowed it, and the Senate voted against it 97-0. The president also delivered a budget speech in May. But as the director of the Congressional Budget Office noted, “We don’t score speeches.” The president still has not submitted a new budget proposal to Congress.

Of course, he’s in good company. Senate Democrats haven’t produced a budget in two years. This year, in fact, for the first time in memory, even the Senate Budget Committee couldn’t come up with a budget proposal. After all, time spent proposing a budget is time that can’t be spent denouncing Republican “intransigence” for standing in the way of a deal.

Even if we don’t know what the president is for, we certainly know what he is against. And when it comes to “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” that’s just about everything.

The House Republican plan is surprisingly moderate. First, it would impose $1.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years. That’s less than the federal government will borrow this year. Second, it would cap federal spending at 19.9 percent of GDP by 2020. That would still allow the federal government to spend 1.5 percent of GDP more than it did when Bill Clinton was president. And, finally, it would send a constitutional balanced-budget amendment to the states for consideration. The amendment would require that the federal government live within its means except during times of war or when supermajorities waive its provisions. In many ways, it is less strict than the balanced-budget provisions in place in every state except Vermont. In fact, the Republican proposal doesn’t even amend the Constitution by itself; that would still require 38 states to approve it.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Geoffrey Lawrence

Director of Research

Geoffrey Lawrence is director of research at Nevada Policy.

Lawrence has broad experience as a financial executive in the public and private sectors and as a think tank analyst. Lawrence has been Chief Financial Officer of several growth-stage and publicly traded manufacturing companies and managed all financial reporting, internal control, and external compliance efforts with regulatory agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Lawrence has also served as the senior appointee to the Nevada State Controller’s Office, where he oversaw the state’s external financial reporting, covering nearly $10 billion in annual transactions. During each year of Lawrence’s tenure, the state received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award from the Government Finance Officers’ Association.

From 2008 to 2014, Lawrence was director of research and legislative affairs at Nevada Policy and helped the institute develop its platform of ideas to advance and defend a free society.  Lawrence has also written for the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation, with particular expertise in state budgets and labor economics.  He was delighted at the opportunity to return to Nevada Policy in 2022 while concurrently serving as research director at the Reason Foundation.

Lawrence holds an M.A. in international economics from American University in Washington, D.C., an M.S. and a B.S. in accounting from Western Governors University, and a B.A. in international relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.  He lives in Las Vegas with his beautiful wife, Jenna, and their two kids, Carson Hayek and Sage Aynne.