One of the biggest issues facing our country right now is Washington's out-of-control spending. Last week, the Senate passed a spending resolution that will keep the government funded for another three weeks. Now we must take serious and immediate steps to get a handle on runaway government spending.
In 2007, we had a $150 billion dollar deficit -- and that seemed too high. Just four years later, our annual deficit is now $1.5 trillion. The vast majority of that increase in the deficit is due to Washington's binge spending habit. When I came into office little over a year ago, the national debt stood a shade under 12 trillion dollars. Today, it's more than 14 trillion and rising every second. This level of government spending is unsustainable, unacceptable and threatens the very stability of our country. Simply put, we must act NOW to cut spending and get our fiscal house in order. We cannot simply raise the debt limit and continue with business as usual. We have seen the consequences of reckless spending from the recent meltdowns in European countries.
My Journey as Your Senator
Since my last e-newsletter, I have again had the opportunity to travel the state, including trips to Gloucester, Beverly and Danvers. I have also introduced or co-sponsored several pieces of Good Government legislation that will improve government accountability and reduce government waste. In addition, I traveled to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and continued my work to combat terrorism and keep our nation safe.
Finally, I am moving my offices in Washington, from the Russell Senate Office Building to the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Starting on March 30, you can find me and my staff in 359 Dirksen.
Talking with the People
On March 2, I visited with Jenny Barringer Simpson, Olympian and American record holder in the 3000 meter steeplechase. Jenny was in town for the National Health Through Fitness Day to discuss initiatives to increase physical activity in America. Most recently, she won the steeplechase at the USATF Outdoor Championships for the second time in three years.
On March 1, I attended the annual Hockomock Area YMCA Reach Out for Youth and Families breakfast kick off fundraiser at the Mansfield Holiday Inn, and had a chance to speak about the importance of the program.
Eliminating Government Waste: My Legislation
I continue to focus on improving transparency and accountability for the American taxpayer. As you may know from recent press coverage, a couple weeks ago I introduced the Taxpayer Receipt Act, which would provide every taxpayer who files an income tax return with an itemized receipt -- similar to a grocery store receipt -- from the IRS that lists where their payroll and income taxes are spent. I have also proposed a 48-hour spending transparency resolution, no longer allowing lengthy legislation, like the recent health care package, to be pushed through without discussion and debate. Legislation coming before the full Senate would be posted for 48 hours before the Senate could take a vote.
Learn more about this legislation in the below video. Click on the "My Legislation" button at the bottom of this email to read the full bills.
Here's what others have to say about my bipartisan Taxpayer Receipt Act:
Americans for Prosperity: "Dear Senators Bill Nelson and Scott Brown, On behalf of more than 1.7 million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I write to applaud your introduction of the Taxpayer Receipt Act of 2011, S. 437."
Bipartisan Policy Center: "While Congress continues to debate how much to cut this year from non-security discretionary programs -- which constitute only 12 percent of the federal budget -- Senators Scott Brown (MA-R) and Bill Nelson (FL-D) have introduced the "Taxpayer Receipt Act of 2011," a bill aimed at better informing the public both about how their tax dollars are spent and the sheer magnitude of America's debt problem."
Boston Globe: "The national debate over the budget deficit would benefit from hard, reliable numbers that the average citizen can understand and interpret. A promising new bill by a bipartisan team of US senators -- Republican Scott Brown and Florida Democrat Bill Nelson -- may provide just that."
Using Every Dollar Wisely
In these tough economic times, we need to spend every dollar wisely so that we have enough money to help meet basic needs. Housing is one of them. On March 18, I sent a letter to President Obama, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Congressional leaders stating my concerns about the spending priorities at HUD. Despite the fact that rental programs have proven to be more effective in promoting neighborhood stability in low-income areas, HUD continues to push ownership programs that have been failures. I believe that if HUD prioritizes its spending better, then families across the Commonwealth will be able to combat the rise in homelessness and keep a roof over their heads until they are able to get back on their feet financially. As your U.S. Senator, I am committed to working with the White House and my Senate colleagues to get our fiscal house in order while also providing the maximum protection for those families that are most in need.
Keeping Our Country Safe From Terrorism
I recently had the opportunity to visit Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Having now seen the detention center and the courtrooms first-hand, I am more convinced than ever that the Guantanamo facility should remain open. I was impressed by the naval base's pristine condition, ample amenities and overall high quality. I was pleased that President Obama finally took a step in the right direction by issuing an Executive Order to restart military trials there, and I believe he should go a step further and hold a military trial for the self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, along with his major co-conspirators. It has now been ten years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th. The thousands of victims, their families, and the American people are still waiting for justice. Now the Obama Administration has everything it needs to bring "certain justice" to those responsible for the deadly terrorist attacks.
As part of my work on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I was recently named Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on AirLand. Led by Chairman Joe Lieberman, this committee has oversight of Army and Air Force programs; Navy and Marine Corps tactical aviation programs; National Guard and Reserve equipment; and Army and Air Force research and development.
Read my full Op-Ed in Today's Boston Herald here.