By Shira Schoenberg, Political Correspondent on November 30, 2012
As Congress debates how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, a Springfield native is among those leading the call for reduced government spending.
Jonathan Bydlak is the president and founder of a political advocacy group called the Coalition to Reduce Spending. The organization, which started in February, has allied itself with a number of conservative and Tea Party groups in its stance on the fiscal cliff. But Bydlak said it aims to be nonpartisan, to advocate for cutting programs that both parties hold dear, particularly entitlements and defense.
“Our big point is that all spending must be considered on the table,” Bydlak said. “You’re never going to get the other side to come to the table and put their sacred cow on the chopping block if you’re not willing to do that with your own.”
The leaders of the group have their roots in the libertarian-leaning wing of the Republican Party. Bydlak, a former hedge fund investment analyst, started a political consulting company and worked as director of fundraising for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. (Bydlak was born in Springfield, grew up in Chicopee and graduated from Westfield High School.) Other leaders include Max Raskin, who worked for Paul’s 2008 campaign and the 2010 Senate campaign of Paul’s son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; Corie Whalen, who has organized Boston-area Tea Party rallies and is active in the Republican Liberty Caucus and other liberty-related groups; and Richard Lorenc, founder of Liberty Markets Fund for Freedom, which recruits donors to free market policy groups.
But the group is working on expanding its appeal, trying to create a network of scholars willing to talk about the need for spending cuts and a balanced budget. “People associate (reducing spending) with being a right wing issue, but most people in their own lives have to balance budgets,” Bydlak said.
During the campaign season, the coalition circulated a pledge, modeled on an anti-tax pledge circulated by activist Grover Norquist. The pledge commits members of Congress not to vote for a budget that is not balanced or an appropriations bill that increases total spending; to consider all spending open to reduction; not to vote to fund new programs without offsetting cuts; and not to vote to increase borrowing or raise the debt ceiling. While 24 candidates signed the pledge, only two were elected: Texas Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite, and Georgia Rep.-elect Doug Collins.
Now, the group is turning to the fiscal cliff, hoping to use a public campaign to pressure Congress to cut spending. The group joined 20 other organizations – including Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and a variety of mostly conservative and taxpayer advocacy groups – in writing a letter urging Congress to allow the sequestration to go into effect. Sequestration involves $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over a decade, split between defense and domestic spending. The cuts, put in place as a result of Congress’ failure to reach a budget deal in 2011, will go into effect in January if Congress does not act.
Economists have warned that sequestration, combined with tax hikes that are also set to go into effect at the end of the year, could throw the country back into recession. The Coalition to Reduce Spending has not taken a formal position on taxes. But the organizations signing the letter said Congress should go forward with the cuts.
“Delaying this action will only make it harder to get our fiscal house in order, in the process weakening our economy, saddling future generations with debt, and further undermining Congress’s credibility to lead,” they wrote.