September is a month for football and a month for budgets in Mississippi. City and county officials are working to meet deadlines on the start of their fiscal years on October 1. The state legislature will begin Budget Committee hearings as they start their work in crafting a budget for next year's legislative session. In addition, businesses, large and small, are working on their budgets for 2012.
Each of these groups, local governments, state government, and private businesses operate with a very practical consideration they must make their budgets balance.
This is a concept that American families understand. Thirty years ago, just before I was to be married, a very wise friend taught me a simple but important principle of family budgeting, "If your outgo exceeds your income then your upkeep will be your downfall."
The only entity in America that does not seem to understand this concept is the federal government.
The new Republican majority was elected to change the course of Washington, to change the way things work, and to change Washington's broken political system.
And that's just what we've been doing. House Republicans have successfully changed the conversation from "how much to spend" to "how much can we cut." While the recent debt ceiling deal, the Budget Control Act, is a good first step to cutting spending, it's certainly not a touchdown. With control of only one half of one third of the federal government, House Republicans are fighting for first downs until we get the ball in the end zone.
The Budget Control Act helps lead us down the field. First, it cuts government spending by $917 billion, which is more than it increases the debt limit. Second, it sets up a Joint Committee of the House and Senate that is required to submit a proposal, by the end of November, to reduce the deficit by an additional $1.5 trillion. Third, it tackles the ultimate solution -- a Balanced Budget Amendment. By the end of this year, the House and Senate will be required to vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment.
49 states have some form of balanced budget amendment, including Mississippi. If our state is forced to live within its means, there is no reason the federal government shouldn't be required to do the same.
However, President Obama has said, "We don't need a constitutional amendment to do our jobs."
Since President Obama took office, our national debt has increased by $3.7 trillion. From our country's very beginnings in 1776 up until 1992 (216 years), the United States accumulated the same amount of debt that the President has accumulated in just two and a half years. President Obama and the previous Congress spent more money in less time than any other leaders in American history.
Sixteen years ago, in 1995, Congress came one vote short in the Senate of passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. This year, we will have the opportunity again.
According to President Ronald Reagan, "Only a constitutional amendment will do the job. We've tried the carrot, and it failed. With the stick of a Balanced Budget Amendment, we can stop government squandering, overtaxing ways, and save our economy." 65% of Americans agree, and are in favor of a Balanced Budget Amendment.
A Mississippi businessman wrote to me and said, "Congressman, I run a building supply company in your district. Today I had a first. For the first time in 11 years of doing business I laid off employees due to lack of work. The construction industry is desperate for funding. Until the economy is stabilized, companies, banks, and individuals are going to hold their money, and rightfully so. This country needs a balanced budget and a leader to get us there."
These job creators, these Americans, know that the spending most stop and we must change course. They understand that paying down the debt and holding Washington accountable means lower taxes and more jobs for future generations.
But, most importantly, it means leaving successive generations a better world. It means restoring the American Dream.
This fall, the House and the Senate will vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment. A Balanced Budget Amendment will change the game. It means no more budget tricks, accounting gimmicks and empty promises from Washington. It means a touchdown is closer than ever.