The following op-ed by Rep. Ed Royce appeared in today's Orange County Register -- If you have flipped on the news lately you have seen the fundamental political divide of our time -- free enterprise vs. big government -- being debated in Washington, D.C., which has become the symbol of bloated bureaucracies and a far-reaching government.
Halfway through his term, the president's signature achievement is the creation of a $2 trillion new entitlement program, which we are working to repeal and replace. To go along with Obamacare, the previous Democratic-controlled Congress spent more money than the first 100 Congresses combined. Spending bills were increasing government agency funding by double digits year over year. Partially funding this massive government expansion, the Democrats raised taxes and borrowed more from China and Japan than any Congress, ever. Under former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's leadership, the deficit grew nearly 10-fold (from $161 billion to $1.55 trillion).
Despite this precedent, headlines suggest President Barack Obama's "big move to the center." The president's budget proves this is not the case and that he has no intention of scaling back the bloated government he worked so hard to expand. Mr. Obama's $3.8 trillion blueprint puts the government on track to nearly double in size since his first day in office. The president's fiscal commission co-chairman, Erskine Bowles, said this budget goes "nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare."
The president's 10-year budget and the consequential $13 trillion addition to our national debt in no way reflect the urgency of the situation. Debt contagion continues to spread from Greece throughout much of Europe. A former chairman of the Federal Reserve says there is a 50-50 chance of a bond crisis in the next couple years. And at almost 100 percent of our gross domestic product, total outstanding debt nears an epic level. It is no wonder that the credit rating agencies continue to warn that we are on the verge of losing our triple-A credit rating for U.S. treasuries.
The new House GOP, however, refuses to kick the can down the road. Our funding bill passed last month delivers on our campaign commitment to cut $100 billion in discretionary spending over the ensuing 12 months, two-thirds of which is in this fiscal year. Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats refuse to bring this bill up for a vote. While a two-week spending bill -- which expires March 18 -- cuts $4 billion (in line with the $100 billion figure over 12 months) simply sets the stage for the bigger spending debate.
We will continue pushing significant spending cuts because that is the only responsible way to end the era of big government. Certainly this will not be easy. Every government program, no matter the size, has a champion in Congress and an interest group lobbying on its behalf. But if we are serious about addressing this looming budgetary crisis and getting our economy on solid footing, now is the time to make the hard choices. The actions taken so far by my GOP colleagues in the House prove that some are ready. This, however, is only a first step and it must be followed by many more, including entitlement reform. Now it is up to the Senate and the president to get on board and recognize that real job creation and economic growth has, and always will, come from entrepreneurship and free enterprise, not government.
The current spending debate and the reform measures taken throughout the country provide yet another opportunity for the administration and Sen. Reid to change course and be on the right side of history.
Rep. Ed Royce is a Republican congressman representing Fullerton and other parts of North Orange County.