As I write this newsletter, America is on the brink of a government shutdown -- but it can be avoided. Early Friday morning, the House passed a bipartisan bill that doubles President Obama's request for emergency disaster aid to Missouri and elsewhere and will keep the government running through November 18th. Sadly, Senate Leader Harry Reid allowed politics to get in the way of what is needed by declaring this bipartisan legislation dead on arrival. The Senate must not be allowed to play politics with the people of Joplin who are recovering from May's devastating tornado, residents of northwest and southeast Missouri who have coped with devastating flooding, and Americans in other parts of the country that have been hit with hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has already said that its Disaster Relief Fund is dangerously low and will likely run out very soon if there is no new funding. Senator Reid and the Democrat majority in the Senate must not play political games with people's lives. I call on them to take up this important legislation for a vote and to pass it!
America heard from President Obama, this week, as he promoted his latest debt plan in which he issued a call for higher taxes. Unfortunately, this proposal ignores our debt crisis, leaving Americans open to the possibility of further credit rating downgrades that will make it more difficult to create jobs and grow our economy. As the Joint Select Committee works to solve some serious problems, President Obama refuses to take a leadership role in efforts to preserve and strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. His insistence on raising taxes on job creators is unacceptable and shows he is not willing to take the steps necessary to address the issues confronting us. Any proposal to raise taxes on both small businesses and on private capital -- the essential ingredients for job creation in our economy -- cannot be taken seriously.
There can be no doubt that the only real solution to our budget problems is a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I am leading efforts in the U.S. House to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment. As part of the August debt limit agreement, the House and Senate will have to vote between October 1st and December 31st on a BBA and I am urging Representatives and Senators to approve what is truly the only effective way to get a grip on out-of-control Washington spending.
Just how out of control is Washington spending? Since President Obama took office in January of 2009, the national debt has increased by $3.7 trillion. Let me put that in perspective: It took the United States from 1776 until 1992 to accumulate the same amount of debt that President Obama accumulated in two and a half years! No nation can spend, tax, bail-out, or borrow its way to economic prosperity. President Obama tried this approach with his trillion dollar stimulus package and it only made things worse. The simple truth is that America has no more money to spend. If we want to revive our economy, create jobs, and save our country from bankruptcy, Washington must commit to a permanent fiscal solution.
It is time for Washington to live within its means as American families must do. Our national debt is higher than it's been at any time in our history. We are currently borrowing roughly 42 cents of every dollar we spend and saddling our children and grandchildren with the debt. Passing a Balanced Budget Amendment would get Washington on the right track, help renew confidence among America's job creators by restoring certainty in our economy, and keep America competitive. A Balanced Budget Amendment is a proven, effective tool to ensure sound fiscal action by governments. Missouri and 48 other states currently have some form of a balanced budget requirement -- Washington needs to join the states in being responsible with taxpayers' dollars. Our debt crisis is a legitimate threat to our nation's future. America cannot afford to wait any longer -- the time to act is now!
To pass Congress, this Constitutional amendment will require two-thirds' majorities of both the House and Senate. The amendment would then be sent to the states for ratification, with approval of three-fourths (38) of the states required. Stay tuned as the weeks progress. Hopefully, with your support, we will be able to make history by passing a Constitutional amendment and saving our country financially while doing it.
I welcome your views and concerns. If you're visiting Washington, please stop by our office at 1023 Longworth House Office Building. In the 4th Congressional District, feel free to drop into our offices 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. It is an honor to serve you.
Have a good week.