Brent Batten: Pop quiz: Name that extremist


In Washington, D.C. you have one faction that, when you get right down to it, wants the government to spend only as much money as it takes in each year.

You have another faction that:

* Wants the federal government to spend a trillion dollars more than it takes in every year.

* Rejects out of hand the idea of a balanced budget.

* Maintains that spending trillions more than is presently being spent, but less than projections of what could be spent, amounts to a “draconian cut.”

* Looks at a future in which the national debt will have grown from today’s $14 trillion to $22 trillion instead of $26 trillion, the amount it would be according to those 10-year projections, and declares that the debt has been reduced by $4 trillion.

And says things like:

“What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget . . . We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today.” (House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at a press conference Thursday) and, “If Washington operates as usual and can’t get anything done, let’s at least avert Armageddon.” (President Barack Obama, July 15.)

One faction is labeled as extremist. Can you guess which one?

Remember, we’re talking about Washington, D.C. now.

* * *

OK, here’s a hint.

One of the “extremists” is U.S. Rep. Connie Mack of Southwest Florida.

On Friday afternoon, Mack conducted a conference call with supporters in his district to update them on where he stood as the debt ceiling debate neared yet another House vote.

Where he stands is solidly against any increase in the debt ceiling.

He continues to push his One Penny plan that would reduce spending _ not just reduce the rate of growth in spending _ by one percent a year for six years. In the seventh year spending would be limited to 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and in the eighth year the budget would be balanced.

The plan has 47 co-sponsors in the House, a handful of co-sponsors in the U.S. Senate and has won the endorsement of fiscally conservative advocacy groups including the American Taxpayers Union and Freedom Works.

Mack said he’s been pitching the plan to House leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

But earlier in the week, on Sean Hannity’s nationally syndicated radio program, Boehner seemed unfamiliar with the details of Mack’s plan when Hannity asked him specifically about it.

On Friday, Mack wrote off Boehner’s vague recollection of his plan to the pressures of the past few weeks. “The speaker has been busy thinking about other things,” Mack said.

“I have been talking to the speaker for the past couple of months. I spoke to him on the phone two or three days before (the Hannity appearance). If he would be asked about it today he would be crystal clear,” Mack said.

While the penny plan hasn’t been forwarded as a way out of the debt conundrum, Mack said elements of it, like a cap on spending tied to GDP and a balanced budget, have appeared in other proposed solutions.

“They keep dancing around it. If they continue long enough they’ll see this is the plan,” he said. “I would urge the president and the leaders in the Senate to look into it as well.”

Mack’s opposition to raising the debt ceiling under any circumstance puts him at odds with Republican leaders who want to tie such an increase to future spending cuts. Mack said cuts in future growth aren’t cuts at all. “This is Washington moving numbers around. No one in America could continue to live using math like that.

“I need to be up front with the people who sent me to Washington,” he told the conference call. “I will be voting no.”

Connect with Brent Batten at

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