Budget or Bust: The GOP's Manifesto


Next week will be budget or bust on Capitol Hill as the House Leadership gets ready to vote on budget cuts. Some within the GOP are saying the $43 million in proposed cuts proposed by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are not enough. On the other side of the aisle, they are saying the cuts go too far.

I decided to ask Tim Phillips, President and CEO of Americans for Prosperity, for his thoughts on the GOP game plan. You may have heard about AFP. President Obama called out Americans for Prosperity nearly a dozen times in his stump speeches last election year. AFP has quickly emerged as one of the most influential conservative groups in the country with more than 1.6 million activists in 31 chapters across 50 states.

LL: Representative Paul Ryan delivered the GOP reaction to the STOU- did he lay out the GOP agenda effectively or are the Republicans being painted a party stuck in the past?

TP: Congressman Ryan effectively made the case for how our nation literally is on the road to bankruptcy if we do not dramatically curb government spending. He also effectively demonstrated the chasm between President Obama's rhetoric about cutting the deficit and his out-of-control spending binge. His best statistic: non-security discretionary spending is up almost 24 percent under Obama and if you include the failed stimulus bill from January of 2009 it explodes to an increase of over 60 percent.

LL: Jobs was a big theme in this State of the Union, will the GOP be strong and unified on message on how they want to create jobs?

TP: The GOP seems broadly united on the following policies to create jobs:

1. Cut the corporate tax rate which at 39 percent is the second highest in the developed world.

2. End the double taxation of overseas profits that encourages American businesses to leave the United States.

3. Rein in the Environmental Protection Agency's job killing cap-and-trade regulations that are driving up utility rates and gasoline prices for businesses that makes their products more expensive and thus less competitive internationally and less affordable here at home.

4. Genuine, far-reaching tort reform

Here's the big question for the GOP though. Will they have the political will to push truly big budget cuts through the House and long reaching budget reforms? If they settle for "Democrat lite" type budgets then their time in the majority will be short and failed.

LL: The GOP "Who's Who" recently released their "manifesto" outlining their wish list of things to do. On the top of the list repealing Obamacare. This is just one item listed in their ambitious agenda. How successful do you really think the GOP will be ? And if they are unsuccessful in passing any of their agenda, does that hurt their chances in the 2012 election?

TP: The American people know that Democrats still control the Presidency and the Senate so the GOP is not on the hook for passing its agenda into law. However, the American people expect them to stand firm in actually cutting spending and the size and reach of government.

LL: The time frame is tight here for things to get done. Come June we are looking at Primary season. Just how much will the GOP try to pass in this short period of time?

TP: I think they will focus on passing a full federal budget through the House by late spring while also attempting to push through full pre-emption of the EPA's ideologically motivated finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to the environment and health of Americans. They've already passed the Obamacare repeal which was a good start.

LL: Americans are tired of rhetoric from both sides. Will the GOP be able to fulfill any of the promises they are making?

TP: If they stand firm they can cut government spending as spending bills originate in the House and the American people stand with them on this point.

LL: One item on the wish list is no more bailouts. Many argue "Too Big To Fail" still exists. How can this truly happen if this ideology is still prevalent in Washington?

TP: Ideology is one thing. Having the political courage to let a poorly performing, clearly failing company go under is something else. But, if House Republicans allow bailouts to occur they will pay a high price.

LL: The debt ceiling is the big item to be looking at and the House needs to pass a budget—something the Democrats did not do last year. What are you hearing?

TP: They know they have to get a budget through the House on time and with genuinely big cuts so our movement thinks and certainly expects this to happen by early summer. Failure here would be truly disastrous for them and the country.

On the debt ceiling front I sense a lot of momentum for Senator Toomey's new proposal. Toomey points out that next year approximately 6.7 percent of federal spending will go to service the interest on the debt. Approximately 67 percent of all federal spending will be covered by tax revenues. So, we should pass legislation requiring that the first federal expenditures go toward paying the interest on our debt because it would be immoral and devastating for us to default on our debt.


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A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."