Heidi Heitkamp: Don’t Tie Spending Cuts To Debt Ceilling


Senator Heidi Heitkamp is quick to name as her mentor the man she replaced in the Senate, Kent Conrad. That seems apt, as Conrad’s legacy of talking tough about the debt and deficits while simultaneously being a wet blanket for any proposals to actually rein in government spending is alive in well in Heitkamp.

Case in point, Heitkamp’s appearance on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley. Heitkamp was asked about the nation’s poor fiscal health, and she talked tough about needing a balanced budget amendment (though, remember that Heitkamp’s version of such an amendment wouldn’t apply to most federal spending) but when Heitkamp was asked if she’d support tying spending cuts to debt ceiling negotiations, Heitkamp said “no.”

HEITKAMP: Let’s look at where we are right now. 40 cents of every dollar that we spend in this Congress is borrowed. Interest on the debt is our third largest expenditure. We have a debt that almost equals our gross domestic product. We can’t sustain this. We have to look at reality. And why I came out for a balanced budget amendment is in 2000 we were on a path, we were on a path to balance the budget. The budget was balanced, and we were on a path to retire our debt. Guess what happened? It blew up. And saw we saw committees. We saw Bowles/Simpson, and none of it did it, and I think we need the discipline of a constitutional amendment.

CROWLEY: So, but the debt ceiling is going to be the first thing you’re going to deal with.


CROWLEY: And Republicans are, as I’m sure the congressman will tell you, are going to want to have at least one dollar in spending cuts for every dollar that they raise that debt limit. Is that something you can support?

HEITKAMP: We cannot jeopardize the full faith and credit and the credit rating of this country.


HEITKAMP: No. We have got to — to take this in an incremental way, and then recognize we need these spending cuts. We need to take a look at where we go on a path forward.

A big part of balancing this budget is in fact getting people back to work. That balances us twice (ph), so that’s another big piece of it. That’s not really getting talked about here.

CROWLEY: But you won’t — you don’t want to link the two of them, the spending cuts and raising the debt ceiling.


Kent Conrad cast his final vote in the US Senate for a “fiscal cliff” deal that raised the nation’s projected budget deficits by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, and he said he had to do so because he was afraid of spending cuts.

“I hate it with every fiber of my being,” Conrad told the media, but claimed “we had to support the proposal because to fail to do so would send us back into a recession.”

If we can’t cut spending to lower deficits, what are we left with? Tax hikes.

This is the position Heitkamp is echoing. Talk tough about deficits, but only support tax hikes as the solution, not reductions in government down to something taxpayers can actually afford.

Heitkamp, like Conrad before her, believes in bigger government and bigger taxes to pay for it. That’s not the sort of leadership we need in Washington DC.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • sbark

    So, reading between the lines, she is saying time the spending cuts about 7 years down the road, right after her next election……….which means in reality they never happen as proven by Dem’cat history from Tip O’Neal to present—never happen.
    Statesmen worry about the next and future generations of a country……..politiicians worry about the next election.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      Heitkamp is no statesman. Or, whoops, I mean stateswoman.

      I guess I war on women’d her.

  • Yogibare

    It should be perfetly clear to anyone listening to Harry Reid who controls the Senate: there will be no amendment to the constitution to “balance the budget”. Not in his time as he controls the Senate. HHeitkamp knows this! So, she is safe in saying that she is for a balanced budget. That is something that will not happen, but she sounds so wonderful to we saps in ND who buy that B.S.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I think we’re more likely to see the amendment to eliminate presidential term limits under Reid than a balanced budget amendment.

  • dlao

    there is no such thing as a “debt ceiling” and it is an insult to the public to use the term. Can you name for me one time in history it has stopped spending?

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      That’s a fair point.

      A “ceiling” that is raised every time the national debt nears it is hardly a “ceiling” any more.

  • Roy_Bean

    To those 10,000 Republicans who voted for Heidi to spite Berg, here we are.

  • Mike Adamson

    As I understand it, the debt ceiling has to be raised in order to pay for expenditures already approved by Congress. Should I infer that you would rather the Government default on its commitments? Seems like a crazy way to run a country.

    • Bat One

      The appropriate starting point would be a federal budget, as required by law, passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. Don’t you agree?

      Unfortunately, the Democrats who control the Senate have refused to even consider a budget, or negotiate a compromise, much less vote on one. And that’s despite the fact that the House of Representatives has done their job and passed a budget.

      • Mike Adamson

        Equally as crazy for sure…these are very strange days. I’m kind of interested in seeing that trillion dollar coin though.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I would rather the government cut spending down to fit within the revenues.

      • Mike Adamson

        No doubt. ;)