U.S. Congressman Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican Conference, guest-hosted The Don Wade and Roma Show on WLS this morning. Below are excerpts:
Spending Limit Amendment
Bruce Wolf: You’ve got a spending amendment that you’re pushing right now. Tell us about it.
Congressman Mike Pence: Yeah, we are. It’s called a Spending Limit Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. A Congressman from Texas named Jeb Hensarling and I introduced it with a few other colleagues last week and basically, it’s really born of our sense that whether you go all the way back, Bruce, to the Gramm-Rudman bill. All these different efforts. Ever since I arrived in Congress in 2000, even back when Republicans were under control, I watched government continuing to grow, continuing to expand.
Entitlements expanded under Republicans. Government spending has gone on steroids under the Obama Administration and the Nancy Pelosi Democrats. They’ve got this thing called PAYGO but you found out from Senator Jim Bunning just how effective PAYGO is. My view of PAYGO is that they ought to say, “you pay and they go on spending.” All these different things that have been put in place, you know Gramm-Rudman was eventually eviscerated by the courts, line item veto was eviscerated by the courts. We’ve come to the conclusion now, that over the last five years, federal spending has increased from nearly 20 percent as a share of the economy, to nearly 25 percent. The historic average is 20 percent since World War II.
The projections are that literally left unchecked, by about 30 years from we will double the percentage of our economy that’s consumed by the federal government, that the only way to really restrain that is by putting language in the Constitution of the United States that says “this far and no farther.”
Our Constitutional amendment very simply says that the federal government, absent a declaration of war or absent some national emergency and supermajority vote, that the federal government should not exceed one fifth of the economic output of the United States of America. It keeps us at that 20 percent historic average that we’ve had since World War II. The stakes, I think, are real high, Bruce.
Last thought is that I think people understand that as government expands, freedom contracts and the truth is that there’s also a direct relationship between government spending and the growth of economies. As the government consumes more, the economy produces less. So, if we do not restrain government and put some fence lines around it, which is what this Constitutional amendment would do, I believe our children are going to grow up in an America that is less free, less prosperous and less secure. So we’ve introduced the Spending Limit Amendment. It’s gotten a lot of props. I haven’t heard from the Chicago Tribune editorial page yet but the Washington Times endorsed it yesterday and we’re very encouraged by it. Love to have the millions of listeners of this show go online and look it up and express their support to Members of Congress.
Bruce Wolf: Their government employees who are supposed to collect taxes, won't collect the taxes anymore. Which could pay for their own salaries. They want the Germans to pay for it.
Congressman Mike Pence: I know the President it going overseas here in a week or so. And there is some stuff being written about what he's going to tell Greece. I don’t know what he's going to tell Greece! Because we are going to be Greece in 20 years if we don’t get this thing turned around. We are going to double the amount of the economy that the federal government consumes, unless we take dramatic action now and we believe that's a constitutional Spending Limit Amendment.
Bruce Wolf: I was reading in the Weekly Standard the other day that the American Enterprise Institute scholar, Andrew Biggs, estimates that the federal government will have to impose an immediate and permanent 30 percent increase on every tax in order to balance its book in 25 years!
Congressman Mike Pence: You know something that will scare you to death? That's really low
Bruce Wolf: Oh good.
Congressman Mike Pence: That’s a low estimate. You can see this if folks go to mikepence.house.gov. They can read all the numbers they want. Basically you're looking at a situation where in about 20 years you're talking about deep, deep cuts in programs that really matter to Americans. Or you're talking about roughly doubling the tax rate in this country. But if we take action now, we can hold federal spending to 20 percent of the economy through fiscal disciple and entitlement reform. Well, to borrow a phrase, we have to act now. We really need to move now. I know the president is continuing to drive his government takeover of healthcare but the truth is, the trillion in spending they're contemplating is going to worsen the fiscal picture of this nation for our children and grandchildren. We ought to be dealing with this fiscal crisis and taking our time on doing the right thing on healthcare reform and all the other major issues.
Clip of Dan Rather: When you talk about a climate, though. Part of the undertow in the coming election is going to be President Obama’s leadership and the Republicans will make a case and a lot of independents will buy this argument. Look at the health care bill, it’s his number one priority and it took him forever to get it through and he had to compromise it to death. He’s a nice person, he’s very articulate and this is what is going to be used against him. He couldn’t sell watermelons if he had state troopers to flag down the traffic.
Bruce Wolf: The Congressman and I have paused it because we want to separate ourselves from Dan Rather right now. What do you make of that, Mike?
Congressman Mike Pence: It’s a contemptible smear of Americans who oppose ObamaCare. It is a contemptible smear of Americans who oppose ObamaCare. I have to tell you, I spent this weekend travelling on a bipartisan commission to Selma, Alabama and Montgomery, Alabama. I am a Lincoln/Kemp Republican. It’s 150 years ago in Chicago this year that Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the Republican Party, accepted the Republican nomination for President of the United States. That Republican president signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and I find this kind of equating with Republican principled opposition equals racism as the lowest form of political discourse, and it just is extraordinary to me. I wrote on my blog, people who have just signed on, mikepence.house.gov, they can read that spending amendment we were talking about, but they can also read my account of having walked across the Edmond Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama. We were sitting Saturday in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s church. I believe that every American cherishes the progress that we’ve made in equality in this nation, and that kind of discourse in the public debate I think needs to be roundly condemned.
Bruce Wolf: Well you see, they don’t buy it from Republicans. I mean the African American vote [was] 90% in the case of President Obama, which is understandable, or even higher than that, but you try Compassionate Conservatism, whatever, George Bush didn’t do well with it. I mean, Republicans are branded as racist. You can’t escape that.
Congressman Mike Pence: Well I think you can. I actually think things are changing in America. And let me lay the blame. I don’t know where Republicans lost. If you look at the first ten African-American members of Congress were Republicans. I think the first African American member of the United States Senate was a Republican. There was a long and storied history from Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation of strong connection between the African-American community in this country and the Republican Party, but somewhere along the way, somewhere early in the last century, Republicans blew it. And it was voices like Jack Kemp and others who challenged our party to return to that vision of equality of opportunity, to the ideals of equality. I share that passion, but the fact that there are still people, and I’ll let your listeners decide whether or not Dan Rather is a credible voice, he’s a rather well-known liberal voice out there and his biases are well known, but the fact that someone would at this point in a debate over an issue that is so important to so many millions of Americans that would cast aside the principled opposition to this government takeover of health care and dismiss it with that kind of rhetoric. Bruce, I really think it is a contemptible smear of Americans who oppose ObamaCare, and I see it no other way.