Former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson says Republicans have clearly won the battle over deficit reduction and the debt ceiling and should now “accept a well-won victory and move on.”
In an open letter to the House GOP published by National Review Online, the Tennessee Republican declares: “As someone who understands the pressure and difficulties you have been going through, I want to say, ‘Congratulations.’ You won, and so did the country.”
At the outset, Republicans sought a debt-ceiling increase matched with spending cuts, and no new taxes, says Thompson, who also starred on the TV series “Law & Order” and in several Hollywood movies.
They stood firm as the Obama administration first proposed a budget with billions in new spending, then changed course and demanded a rise in the debt ceiling with no cuts, and moved on to a proposal with vague promises of spending cuts and calls for new revenues.
The president “miscalculated” that House Republicans would ultimately go along, and “at the end of the day, the president and the Senate Democrats would reveal that they are willing to do almost anything to push the debt-ceiling limit past the next election, thereby avoiding having to face the electorate again on this issue,” observes Thompson, who served in the Senate from 1994 to 2003.
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That revelation came in the deal proposed on Monday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: $2.7 trillion in spending cuts and no new taxes, along with a debt-ceiling increase large enough to fund the government through 2012.
The proposal also establishes a bipartisan committee to identify future deficit reductions that “would certainly put entitlements directly in its crosshairs,” according to Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent.
“In theory, this would give Republicans everything they want while dropping any demand for new revenue. By any measure, this would represent a clear win for Republicans.”
In light of that, Thompson tells House Republicans, “I suggest that you rake in your chips, stuff them in your pockets, and tell the dealer to deal the next hand.”
To those in the GOP who might still want to find out if they can get an even better deal, Thompson says: “I suggest you don’t run the risk of finding out.
“Do you really want to spend the next several months going on record as to which discretionary-spending programs (including the military) the administration should cut as much as 20, 30, or 40 percent?”
It now appears certain that any deal agreed upon “will incorporate your — our — fiscally conservative principles, and set us on the right path for our country’s long, necessary journey,” adds Thompson, who concludes:
“We will never achieve entitlement or tax reform with a doctrinaire liberal in the White House. And we can only do so much while controlling one half of one branch of government. Ladies and Gentlemen of the House Republicans, you have laid some great groundwork to rectify both of those situations. Now it is the time to accept a well-won victory and move on.”
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