As most of you probably know by now, the House and Senate approved the final debt ceiling bill this week and it was signed into law by President Obama. You also probably know that I voted "no" on that final version.
As I explained in discussions with citizens and with the media, my decision to say "no" did not come lightly and only came after a lot of research on the topic, talking to residents of the Fourth Congressional District, and discussing the matter with experts in the field of economics. I came to the conclusion that the final plan -- while it marks a much-needed beginning -- didn't go far enough to reverse our destructive course and reflected the wrong priorities for America and for the people I represent. I have two main areas of concern: 1) We fail to cut up President Obama's credit cards by failing to implement permanent reforms to significantly cut spending; 2) Of the cuts that are outlined, national defense bears a disproportionate share of them -- something I find unacceptable.
First, the bill fails to do enough to rein in out-of-control spending and keeps us on the path of borrowing more money from foreign countries. We are already borrowing 42 cents out of every dollar we spend -- a sum that works out to about $4 billion a day. The bill passed and signed into law by the President cuts only $7 billion next year. That amounts to less than two days of savings. We can and must do better.
America needs a Balanced Budget Amendment, which is the only vehicle to stop the growth of government and control the runaway spending. An earlier version of the legislation included a provision I fought hard to have included -- a requirement that a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution be passed by both chambers of Congress and sent to the states for ratification BEFORE there could be another increase in the debt ceiling.
The final version guarantees a vote on the Balanced Budget Amendment, but does not require passage. I'm glad there will be a vote, but would have preferred a requirement that the Amendment passbefore authorizing the borrowing of more money, putting us further in debt as a nation. American families have to tighten their belts and do more with less. Washington should have to do the same.
On the issue of national defense spending I vehemently oppose the legislation's $350 billion cut from the Defense Budget. I am also very concerned that the bill that passed leaves open the door for $500 billion in additional defense cuts down the road. I have made my position clear whenever this matter has come up -- the United States Constitution requires the federal government to do only a few things, the most important of which is to provide for America's national defense. Now is not the time to be cutting our national defense when we have men and women in harm's way, fighting in two theaters around the world and with emerging threats all around us! Washington needs to get its priorities right!
Having outlined my reasons for opposing the bill, I want you to be encouraged that Republicans are changing the debate in Washington. Instead of talking about more spending, we are now focused on controlling and cuttingspending. We are beginning to turn the ship around, albeit ever so slightly. It is difficult to make all the changes that are needed with a Senate and President who believe in more borrowing, more spending, and more taxes. But, with the opportunity to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment in the coming months, I am hopeful that we can build support for passage in Congress and across the United States so that future Congresses will be forced to live within their means. Rest assured, I am committed to continuing the important work of getting a grip on spending and borrowing, solving America's huge debt problem and balancing our budget.
I talked about my "no" vote on the debt bill in several radio interviews this week. Listen to the Podcasts from KMBZ in Kansas City and KSGF in Springfield.
I look forward to hearing from you on the important issues affecting your lives. Please visit us at 1023 Longworth House Office Building in Washington or at our offices in the 4th Congressional District -- in Jefferson City, Harrisonville, Lebanon, and Sedalia. You can also keep up with us by going to our website at www.hartzler.house.gov where you can link to our pages on Facebook and Twitter. I am honored to serve you.
Have a great week,