WASHINGTON (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy entity is sponsoring a three-part standard — including congressional approval of a balanced budget amendment — that must be met before raising the country’s debt limit.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) is one of more than 220 organizations sponsoring the “Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge.” The pledge consists of the following elements:
— “Cut — Substantial cuts in spending that will reduce the deficit next year and thereafter.
— “Cap — Enforceable spending caps that will put federal spending on a path to a balanced budget.
— “Balance — Congressional passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — but only if it includes both a spending limitation and a super-majority for raising taxes, in addition to balancing revenues and expenses.”
President Obama and Republican leaders in Congress have yet to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, which is the legal limit on the amount of debt the federal government can borrow. The ceiling stands at $14.3 trillion and supposedly will be surpassed Aug. 2.
ERLC President Richard Land said the “Cut, Cap, Balance” approach “is the most realistic and comprehensive proposal that has been made to begin digging our way out of this crisis.”
“Our government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends,” Land said. “That is generational theft. We’re stealing our children’s and our grandchildren’s future. If something drastic isn’t done and done quickly, our grandchildren will spend their entire working lives paying off our debts. And we’ll be the first generation in American history to bequeath to our children and grandchildren a lower standard of living than the one we enjoyed.
“All responsible citizens should endorse it,” he said.
On July 7, Sen. Mike Lee, R.-Utah, introduced a bill that tracks closely with the “Cut, Cap, Balance” proposal. His Cut, Cap and Balance Act would reduce federal spending next year by $142 billion, provide caps on six categories of spending and require adoption of a balanced budget amendment before raising the debt limit.
On July 14, Speaker of the House John Boehner urged the president and Democratic leaders to join Republicans in supporting a balanced budget amendment, according to Business Insider. Prospects for a bipartisan push on such an amendment appear slim. The House is scheduled to vote on such an amendment Wednesday, July 20.
Boehner’s appeal to the president and his party came two days after the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, proposed a complicated contingency plan that would seem to grant Obama authority to increase the debt limit without spending cuts.
Many conservatives criticized McConnell’s proposal.
The coalition sponsoring the “Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge” wrote McConnell July 13 to say it “will do everything [it] can to ensure that [his plan] is defeated.”
“We cannot accept granting President Obama $2.5 trillion [the amount proposed] in new debt with no enforceable reform requirements,” the coalition letter said.
The coalition acknowledged not all of its members had the opportunity to approve the letter. Land said he had not seen the letter.
In addition to the ERLC, other sponsors of the “Cut, Cap, Balance Pledge” are the American Family Association, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, Family Research Council Action, FreedomWorks, Liberty Counsel and National Taxpayers Union.
Eight Republican presidential candidates, 12 U.S. senators, 36 U.S. representatives and five governors have signed the pledge, according to the coalition.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.