By Representative Charles Fleischmann
Last week President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to the nation. I was pleased with the president's tone throughout his speech and his praise for the critical energy mission that is ongoing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Unfortunately, most of his speech was much of the same rhetoric and failed promises we have heard before.
The president trumpeted his idea of freezing spending for the next five years at its current level. It is easy for the president to now talk about implementing a spending freeze when he has increased spending in such dramatic ways during his first two years in office. In fact, we have just learned that our national deficit is expected to be almost $1.5 trillion at the end of this fiscal year.
The Congressional Budget Office said our deficit would be 9.8 percent of our economy -- making it the highest percentage since World War II. The Obama Administration's current budget, if implemented fully, would also add over $10 trillion to our nation's debt over the next decade, over half of which would be interest payments alone.
What we need are serious spending cuts and a return to previous spending levels in order to begin to reduce our deficit and debt.
The country is in need of leadership from President Obama to address this fiscal crisis in both the short and long term. Unfortunately, the president failed to use his State of the Union address to prepare and galvanize Americans for tough but necessary choices ahead of us.
Thankfully, Congress is starting to take action. Last week I was proud to join with the majority of my colleagues in voting for House Resolution 38 to instruct committees to return non-security discretionary spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout spending levels, or less. However, that should just be a start. I have also publicly encouraged my fellow colleagues, and our House leadership team, to go a step further and reduce this year's budget by $100 billion.
Since being elected in November, I have also voted to reduce all members' budgets by 5 percent. I have voted to ban all earmarks. I have voted to end the publicly funded presidential campaign elections and party conventions which will save us $617 million. I have also voted to end the mandatory printing of bills that are introduced in Congress which will save us $35 million. We have also made changes to the budget enforcement rules which would make spending cuts easier to accomplish and spending increases harder to accomplish.
Our biggest accomplishment was our vote in the House to repeal ObamaCare, the jobs-crushing health care law passed by Democrats and President Obama last year. If members of the Senate listen to the will of the American people, and repeal the bill as well, it would eliminate $2.6 trillion in new spending and reduce our deficits by $700 billion. I am also looking forward to working with fellow members to implement market-based reforms to the health care system that will make health care more affordable and less costly to the federal government and the individual taxpayer.
I look forward to working with members from both parties as we work to do what the American people sent us here to do in November which was to get government out of the way and let Americans get back to work and grow their businesses.