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The New York Meeting–a monthly gathering of conservatives that brings politicians, thought leaders, and media personalities together to discuss the most important issues facing the country–focused heavily on the upcoming budget debate at its latest session this past Monday. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), former Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner, and radio personalities Monica Crowley and James Golden highlighted the meeting, which streamed live nationally over the web.
Wilson, the South Carolina Congressman most famous for shouting “You lie!” as President Obama made questionable statements about Obamacare, opened the discussion by reflecting on the tragic shooting at Navy Yard in Washington and relating it to the broader unrest at home and abroad.
“Shrinking the size of the military is unwise at a time when the world is in chaos,” Wilson said, referring to the automatic cuts in defense spending that came about as a result of sequestration.
With the continuing resolution set to expire at the end of the month, another political fight over taxes and spending cuts looms in Congress. Wilson acknowledged that some cuts to defense may be necessary to balance the budget and pay down the national debt, but challenged his fellow legislators to cut spending without leaving our troops at risk.
The panelists–led by Crowley and Golden, who is better known as “Bo Snerdly,” the producer of The Rush Limbaugh Show–pressed Wilson on whether it was possible to make a deal with Obama that excluded defense cuts. The Congressman held firm, responding, “The primary function of the national government is national defense…The next two weeks will be very revealing in regards to sequestration. We need adjustments, but not an attack on our military. This was intended as an assault on our military.”
Wilson also reassured the audience that the House hadn’t forgotten about this spring’s IRS scandal, and would continue to work to hold accountable those who inappropriately targeted groups based on their political views.
After Wilson’s Q&A session, Ed Feulner, the founder and retired president of the Heritage Foundation, led a discussion on defunding Obamacare.
“Defunding it is the only way to delay it,” Feulner said. “Premiums are going up, part time employment is going up, choice in doctors is going down, public opposition is going up, the federal deficit is going up, spending is going up.”
Although Feulner acknowledged that a campaign to defund Obamacare would carry political risk, he brushed hesitation aside, saying, “We stand for principles.” He also reiterated that the current budget debate may be the last opportunity to stop the law, because, “every time we get another one of this major social programs in place, it becomes very hard to de-ratchet it.”
Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming–one of two accountants in the Senate–updated the Meeting on workings of the Senate Budget Committee and Senate Finance Committee. Although the odds of success are slim with Harry Reid in control of the Senate, Enzi and a group of conservatives on both committees have continued to push for a balanced budget amendment. The Senator also presented his “Penny Plan” to balance the budget by cutting one cent from every federal dollar spent, and said he supported a move to either a “flat tax” or “fair tax.”
Enzi will face a challenge from Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and a popular TV commentator, in next year’s primary, giving him extra incentive to speak to a national conservative audience at the New York Meeting.
Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, closed out the meeting by leading a discussion on national security issues.
The New York Meeting is organized by Mallory Factor, a businessman, financial columnist, and author of the bestselling book Shadowbosses, an exposé of the public-sector unions that bleed local taxpayers dry. It is always streamed live nationally at this link.
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