Congressman Jerry Lewis Friday supported a comprehensive plan to reduce federal spending by more than $900 billion while ensuring that the federal government does not default on its debt payments.
"The plan put forward by House leaders will start the process of reining in runaway federal spending, while at the same time providing stability to our economy by ensuring that we do not default on our debts," Lewis said. "I urge the Senate to support the plan as soon as possible so that we can ensure that we meet our obligations to our citizens and creditors."
The Budget Control Act of 2011 allows the statutory ceiling on the federal debt to increase by $900 billion in order to ensure that all federal obligations can be paid. The legislation also includes provisions that:
* cut and cap discretionary spending immediately, cutting $22 billion in spending next year, and saving $917 billion over ten years.
* requires the House and Senate to pass balanced budget amendment before a second debt limit increase occurs.
* creates a Joint Committee of Congress that is required to report legislation that would produce a proposal to reduce the deficit by at least $1.8 trillion over 10 years.
"The debt ceiling serves as a warning bell that Congress is not meeting its responsibility to balance the federal budget, and now that warning has reached the level of a four-alarm emergency," Lewis said. "We certainly must meet our responsibility to pay our debts, but we cannot afford to just turn the alarm off this time. We must deal with the emergency now or face dire consequences for our economy and future generations."
Lewis said he understands that the debate over the debt limit has been frustrating for his constituents. But he is extremely concerned that if the federal government doesn't get control of runaway spending soon, it will cause an even greater economic crisis than the one we have been living through the past two years.
The debt is now increasing exponentially. In 2006, when the Republicans were last in the majority in Congress, the federal debt was $8.5 trillion. In 2008, the last year President Bush had control, it was $10 trillion. Now the Congress is being asked to raise the ceiling to $14.3 trillion, and the administration has projected trillion-dollar deficits for a number of years to come.
"The American people have made it clear they understand the danger of uncontrolled spending and rapidly increasing debt - both in the 2010 elections and in nearly every national poll taken in the past year," Lewis said. "The credit rating agencies have also warned that they will lower the nation's rating if Congress does not come up with a workable plan to stop these huge deficits."
Congressman Lewis has been fighting to rein in federal spending for years, proposing alternative spending bills on the House Appropriations Committee that would have significantly reduced the dramatic spending increases approved under the former majority.
In the past year, he has worked with the committee to achieve significant savings like the ones in the plan put forward Friday. The appropriations measures passed this year have cut billions in spending across the government.