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Public Statements

The Oklahoman - Nation's Budget Problems Must Be Addressed

Op-Ed

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

By Representative James Lankford

In 2009, the Devon tower site was a parking lot, the Oklahoma City Thunder finished its first season and the Oklahoma Sooners beat Stanford in the Sun Bowl. On April 29 of that year, the U.S. Senate passed a budget. In the 1,000 days since, the Senate hasn't passed another one.

In D.C., nation's budget problems must be addressed

During 2009, a Congress controlled by Democrats implemented the "Stimulus Plan," which increased our nation's deficit from the 2008 all-time high of $458 billion to $1.4 trillion -- all in a single year. America went further into debt in 2009 than the previous four years of the Bush administration combined.

After national furor erupted over the massive spending, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid determined that working on a budget was politically dangerous. So as of Tuesday -- coincidentally, the same day the president will deliver his State of the Union address -- the Senate will have done nothing on our national budget for 1,000 days.

This is unconscionable and irresponsible. This inaction has locked in $1 trillion deficits every year for three years.

Unlike the Senate, the Obama administration produced a budget last year. Unfortunately, under the president's 2011 budget proposal, our debt would rise to more than $26 trillion in 10 years. It was such an anathema that even the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected it 100-0. But at least Obama created a budget.

In April 2011, the House passed a budget that would slowly reduce our federal spending by $5.8 trillion over the next 10 years. Some in Washington screamed that it cut too much too fast; others complained that it didn't cut enough. Here's a problem bigger than our $15.3 trillion hole: We currently have no plan to get us out of it. Step one in our long journey out of debt is a simple plan called a budget.

After seven near government shutdowns during 2011, some caused by Republicans and some by Democrats, it's clear that the current system isn't working. To resolve this mess, I recently introduced the Government Shutdown Prevention Act, which when the current funding expires automatically initiates a continuing resolution with a 1 percent across-the-board spending cut every three months if Congress doesn't pass a budget. This prevents the instability of a government shutdown while changing the default from spending increases to spending decreases.

Obama served his first two years in office with Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. With Republicans now leading the House, the president has determined that he must circumvent Congress to accomplish his goals. He may appease his base by ignoring the constitutional mandate to work with Congress, but it won't solve the budget crisis.

Oklahoma Republicans and Democrats disagree on many things, but we work together to solve our state's budget problems. It's not too much to ask for Washington to do the same.

Lankford, a Republican, represents Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District.

Here's a problem bigger than our $15.3 trillion hole: We currently have no plan to get us out of it. Step one in our long journey out of debt is a simple plan called a budget.


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