Spending Cuts and Debt
Spending Cuts and Debt affect us all and dealing with these issues are important to my work in Congress.
I share your concerns on our national debt. We currently owe over $16 trillion, a record amount. As others have pointed out, I share the view that our country does not have a revenue problem (the Treasury currently collects $2.5 trillion in taxes), but we have a serious spending problem. At the current pace, our national debt will exceed the size of our economy in less than two years. In 2010, our country paid over $1 billion per day in interest on our debt for a total of $414 billion. We spend more on interest on our debt than some of our most important government departments—second only to what we spend on national defense.
The national debt threatens our economic security and because it threatens our economy, it threatens our national defense. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has stated that the national debt is the biggest threat to our national security. For these reasons I voted against H.R. 1954, which was President Obama’s initial request for a $2.3 trillion increase to the debt ceiling without any spending cuts. The bill was brought before the House on May 31, 2011, and it failed by a vote of 97 to 318 with 7 representatives voting “present.”
To help provide certainty to our debt markets, I became a cosponsor of H.R. 421, the “Full Faith and Credit Act,” which directs the United States Treasury, in the event the debt ceiling is reached, to pay principal and interest due on the national debt before making any other payments. The principle behind this bill is simple: the “full faith and credit” of the United States should not be threatened every time we approach the national debt limit, as has been suggested by Treasury Secretary Geithner. The Administration should be working to cut spending and should be focusing on core government duties. This legislation will secure against the U.S. defaulting on its debt, which is a better solution than raising the debt ceiling and simply postponing a crisis to deal with it at a later date.
Additionally, I was proud to co-sponsor the “Cut, Cap, and Balance Act,” introduced by Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Reid Ribble (R-WI). The bill would cut total spending by $111 billion in fiscal year 2012. It would do this by reducing non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels, which would save $76 billion, and would cut an additional $35 billion from mandatory spending—except for veterans, Social Security, and Medicare, each of which are not cut in this proposal. I will not support a bill that reneges on the promises made to our seniors or veterans. The bill would cap federal spending by implementing a gradual reduction in spending as it relates to the total United States’ gross domestic product (GDP). Current spending levels are nearly 24% of our entire GDP, and this plan would wind that down gradually to 18% in 2021. Finally, and perhaps most crucially, the bill proposes to balance the federal budget by ensuring that a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States passes through Congress and is sent to the states for ratification. This bill passed the House on July 19, 2011 by a vote of 234 to 190, but the Senate voted to table the measure instead of debate or amend it. I voted for Cut, Cap, and Balance and still stand by it as one of the best solutions forwarded so far.
I was sent to Washington to change the direction of this country— not to take empty votes that accomplish nothing. I was not sent to DC to increase taxes. I ultimately voted for Speaker John Boehner’s bill, the “Budget Control Act of 2011,” because it contained provisions for deep cuts, no tax increases, and a balanced budget amendment vote. Those are fundamental conservative values that I want implemented into law. My vote made sure it happened, and I was not going to look on from the sidelines because the bill was not 100% perfect. Our debt and spending crisis is like a super tanker. In order to bring a super tanker to a stop, you cut engines many miles from port. In order to change direction even slightly, the captain has to start the maneuver miles ahead of time. As each spending fight has occurred over the past seven months, my conservative colleagues and I continue to veer our tanker away from its current course. America did not create this debt and spending crisis overnight. We cannot fix it overnight. But we can take steps today to change direction. We must act today incrementally to fix our problems. We cannot wait until these programs are all insolvent and the IMF imposes austerity measures on us.
As you may know, this Congress has already taken important first steps to achieve these goals. Before the 112th Congress convened, House Republicans agreed to an earmark moratorium, sending a clear message that the days of runaway government spending, taxing, and borrowing are numbered. In addition, the House passed a resolution that cut the operating budget of the House of Representatives by 5% in 2011 and an additional 6.5% in 2012. I have voted for bills that, had they been signed into law, would save our country trillions of dollars. All of these measures are important steps toward reducing federal spending levels and setting important precedents for future operations.
For more information concerning my work and views on the issues of Spending Cuts and Debt, please contact my Washington, DC office.
I look forward to your feedback.