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Quigley Calls For Smarter, Safer Spending

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

This week, the President unveiled his 2011 budget, along with the promise to cut non-security discretionary spending for three years. I actively support the President's initiative to rein in spending and to tackle our ever-growing deficit. However, the President and Congress must go further. In order to understand our next steps, we must first understand how we got here.

Eight years of fiscal irresponsibility, a blatant disregard for pay-as-you-go budgeting and sky high tax cuts have left us with a debt that is over fifty percent of GDP. To add insult to injury, we work in a town that thrives on pet projects and individually directed spending. We recklessly spend on defense projects that are intended to keep us safe -- the government's number one duty -- but actually help make us vulnerable in that they are untested and often ineffective.

In a March 2009 GAO report assessing selected weapons programs, researchers estimate that cost overruns totaled nearly 300 billion dollars. GAO continued to recommend that DOD move towards sound, knowledge-based acquisitions. The President should continue on this path toward reformed spending by recommending cutting programs like expensive warships, planes and flawed missile defense systems that don't help in the fight against terror. Congress must also reassert its constitutional right to provide for the common defense by denying money to produce any weapon before it is thoroughly tested.

If we are smart with our dollars we will not only be safer, but we will be stronger. We're fighting two wars while simultaneously attempting to reassert our power as a global economic influence. Now is not the time to pick and choose where we cut our spending. Now is the time to reinvent, streamline and reform the way we do business in Washington. Now is not the time to protect sacred cows -- nothing should be beyond our scrutiny. Now is the time to subject tax expenditures to budget discipline.

I agree with President Obama that we must extend middle-class tax cuts, but end the support for those making over $250,000 a year. And, we must refocus domestic spending so that our number one priority is job creation. Next month, the Secretary of the Treasury will submit to Congress and the President an audited financial report for the U.S. government

Similar to those required of publicly traded companies, this report projects our unfunded net liabilities, or the present value of future expenditures in excess of future revenues. This report helps us understand the true expense of promising to pay Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits at some future moment, even if no cash is disbursed today. The 2008 report projects our unfunded liabilities at 56 trillion dollars.

Our large and growing deficits continue to increase Government debt levels as a percentage of GDP to unprecedented and unsustainable heights. The most troublesome and perhaps crippling outcome of all, however, is that in this process of unethical and unabashed spending -- we have lost the public's trust. Without this trust, we simply cannot govern. Tackling this deficit of trust must be our first priority.

"Let's try common sense," the president said. "Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the people who sent us here."

Our responsibility, then, is to take the more difficult road. The road that includes reform, the road that includes reinventing government, and the road that includes the members of this House leading by example.


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