Friday, January 25, 2013


U.S. House Republicans' effort to "resequence" the federal debt discussion needs a little help.

I get the logic of Speaker Boehner's "no budget, no pay" bill with the creation of a debt ceiling date set to May 18 so someone other than Obama knows when default occurs. Rep. Andy Barr, my Congressman, voted for the measure on Wednesday. I appreciate his logic and the idea that the bill creates some chance for a positive outcome to this standoff rather than no chance. If the bill becomes law -- and it might -- there is at least some reason to hope spending might be curtailed in the ensuing battle.

But I agree with Rep. Thomas Massie's "no" vote. We all feel like we have been here before because we have been.

The current strategy is missing something and I think Republicans would do well to turn all their firepower on it for a while. That something is former President Bill Clinton.

Congressional Republicans have spent the last decade missing a great opportunity they can no longer afford to miss. They must destroy once and for all the fiscal accounting gimmick-driven myth of the Clinton budget surplus.

The truth is that proper accounting for intragovernmental transfers -- in this case, squandered Social Security surplus funds -- completely eliminates any so-called Clinton surplus.

Republicans have wasted the last decade trying to give Newt Gingrich credit for the "Clinton surplus." That must end now.

The effort to resequence the fiscal debate will be made much easier and more potent if we first resequence Bill Clinton. Democrats won't know what to do with this line of attack when it is launched and the disarray that will follow if we stick with it long enough will set the stage for reality-based budgeting, a desperately needed change in focus.