Jim Marshall has no opponent in the Democratic primary, so his apparent main focus is to prove he is more of a conservative than his eventual Republican challenger this November.
Marshall is co-chairman of a new congressional, mainly conservative collective that’s pushing for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.
On the surface, it sounds great. So did No Child Left Behind until it evolved into mostly a punitive, unfunded mandate, and can we not forget “compassionate conservatism”.
Marshall convened a meeting with other self-proclaimed fiscal conservatives and guess who was their guest speaker-none other than Newt Gingrich.
Some may have forgotten Newt, but he still definitely around giving his advice.
Gingrich is known for helping to engineer the conservative takeover of Congress under the theme of having a Contract with America back in 1994. Gingrich advocated the balanced budget amendment at that time. However, President Clinton kept his campaign promise of paying down the deficit and by the time Clinton left office, the nation had a budget surplus.
Marshall is right that “our fiscal house is completely out of order”, but he and the Bush congressional Republicans are the main reasons the economy staggered and fell into a deep recession.
During the last 40 years there have been five budget surpluses, all five were under Democratic Presidents: 1969, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. The presidents who presided over those budgets were Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton.
The four-term congressman had an opportunity to control health care costs by supporting the landmark Health Care Reconciliation and chose to be sideline critic. Additionally, Marshall voted for George W. Bush’s tax cuts and voted yes for war against Iraq, a very expensive war to say the least that has lasted longer than the two World Wars of the early twentieth century combined.
Passing a federal budget amendment will not make the debt go away, just like building a fence on the Mexican border will not stop illegal immigration.
Balancing the budget requires smart and tough choices and there is no quick fix resolution. Former President Clinton received no Republican support for his 1993 Budget Reconciliation Act, but in hindsight it was instrumental in Clinton leaving office with a budget surplus in 2001.
President Obama has made the effort along with most congressional Democrats-excluding Marshall-in trying to get the nation out of this economic downturn that derived mainly from George Bush’s failed policies.
Marshall is likely to have a vigorous re-election challenge from a fellow conservative this fall, and this campaign gimmick of calling himself a fiscal conservative is more of a pre-emptive measure to show how conservative and anti-Obama he really is.
Will it work? Anything is possible.
I have said before that Austin Scott is the likely Republican front-runner and challenger and one of the reasons is that he is the establishment Republican.
It will be interesting to see what Scott and the other Republican primary challengers do in the next few weeks to top Marshall’s gimmicky election-year strategy.