I believe that we must restore sanity and discipline to government spending -- and stop burdening our children with a mountain of debt. We must ensure that every dime we spend generates a real return, and that our government lives within its means.
We face one of the most challenging fiscal situations our nation has ever experienced. A massive recession and years worth of increased spending and decreased taxes have left us with a dangerous fiscal deficit, and mounting national debt.
The Social Security and Medicare programs have made tens of billions of dollars of promises to future senior citizens that are now unfunded. In the last two years, our ability to meaningfully address this challenge has been constrained.
No credible economist would call for slashing budgets in the teeth of a recession. In fact, almost without exception, they lobbied hard - and continue to lobby - for the kinds of stimulus programs that have begun to pull us out of recession.
I believe that the fiscal challenge must be addressed now, and that a careful, balanced approach is essential. Cut too much now, and the risk of a double dip recession becomes very serious. Take a good look at what happened in 1937. On the other hand, our creditors and global markets are expecting policy makers to put forward a serious plan for a more sustainable fiscal trajectory and to show the political will to make the tough decisions necessary to fix the problem.
My voting record in Congress reflects these ideas. I voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at a time when economists were nearly unanimous in calling for a significant stimulus. Over a year later, the economy is growing, jobs are being added and confidence is rising. As a consequence, I have I have begun to support policies that would reduce the federal deficit. While our economy is certainly not yet on firm footing, most economic indicators support the idea that it is time to move away from deficit spending.
In December and again this spring, I voted against a number of Democratic spending proposals that would have increased our deficit by over $200 billion, and I have committed to only supporting budget and spending plans that reduce the deficit by at least one percent. When rumors circulated that Democratic leadership would begin the 2011 spending process without a budget, I joined with other moderate freshman lawmakers to write a letter urging the Speaker to adopt a spending plan before beginning actual spending. However, the final budget we considered did not meet the one percent cut threshold I have set.
We have begun to put in place policies that will help lead to a balanced budget. Early this year, the President signed Pay-Go, legislation I cosponsored that requires all new spending by the government to be paid for. I supported the creation of the nonpartisan Deficit Reduction Commission, a group charged with establishing a plan to stabilize the budget deficit by 2015. I am also pleased by the nomination of Jack Lew to head the Office of Management and Budget; under Lew's leadership in the 1990s, our country achieved a budget surplus for the first time in decades. Additionally, I have sponsored and cosponsored a number of legislative proposals aimed at eliminating unnecessary spending and improving the efficiency of our government. Finally, in an effort to ensure prudent fiscal policies guide our spending moving forward, I have helped found the Deficit Reduction Working Group. This work will hold congressional leadership accountable to taxpayers and work to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the federal budget.