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Indianapolis Star - My View: We're Serious About Hard Work of Budgeting

Op-Ed

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By Representative Marlin Stutzman

Today, Republican members of the House Budget Committee will introduce a budget that restores spending discipline, lifts the debt, strengthens health and retirement security, and reforms the tax code so the economy can grow.

Serious budgeting -- meeting deadlines, setting priorities, making trade-offs, and offering credible solutions to the nation's problems -- is hard work. But Americans deserve nothing less. In stark contrast to the President's latest proposal, the budget we are introducing today offers facts, specifics, and a detailed blueprint for American renewal.

America's fiscal problems pose a real threat to our military. Left unaddressed, these problems will spell decline for America as a world power. Rather than cut defense to the bone, our budget deals with the actual drivers of our debt, making certain that our troops and military families don't pay the price for Washington's failure to take action.

At home, there is a growing and destructive trend of government overreach into the private economy -- a trend that stacks the deck in favor of special interests and stifles growth. Our budget stops Washington from picking winners and losers across the economy. It repeals the government takeover of health care that threatens our personal and economic liberty. And it reduces the bureaucracy's reach by making sure America has a public sector that works for the people it serves -- not the other way around.

Right now, safety-net programs such as Medicaid and food stamps are failing the very individuals they are intended to help. Our budget strengthens the safety-net by refocusing aid on those who truly need it. It empowers states to tailor public-assistance programs to their unique needs. It offers policies that would grow the economy and create more opportunities for all Americans.

Medicare is endangered by an irresponsible government that has willfully ignored its looming insolvency. This threat is compounded by a new health care law that empowers unaccountable bureaucrats to cut the program in ways that would deny seniors access to health care. By contrast, our budget embraces bipartisan solutions to preserve the Medicare guarantee. It makes no changes for those in or near retirement and offers guaranteed coverage options to future seniors, regardless of pre-existing conditions. These options would be financed by a premium-support payment adjusted to provide additional financial assistance to the poor and the sick and less help to the wealthy. Medicare-approved health plans, including a traditional Medicare option, would compete against each other to offer higher quality care at lower costs.

Finally, the U.S. tax code has become a broken maze of complexity and political favoritism, stifling economic growth and job creation. Our budget tackles this problem head-on by consolidating the current six individual income tax brackets into just two brackets of 10 and 25 percent. Instead of raising taxes, it maintains revenue growth at a level consistent with current tax policy by getting rid of special-interest loopholes. It reduces the U.S. corporate rate, which is set to become the highest in the developed world, to a more competitive 25 percent, and it shifts to a "territorial" tax system to encourage companies to bring back foreign earnings and invest in the United States.

Just last year, the national debt surpassed the size of our entire economy. If left on its current course, the ever-rising debt will trigger an inevitable crisis and a state of decline that will be difficult, if not impossible, to reverse once it takes hold. Our budget ends this crisis before it begins.

This is what budgeting is all about and this is where this Administration has fallen short. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted as much recently in a hearing before our committee: "We're not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to our long-term problem. What we do know is we don't like yours."

Letting somebody else propose a path forward, and then attacking them for political gain, is anything but serious budgeting. Some may disagree with our vision but American taxpayers deserve an honest debate. Taxpayers, not Washington, should choose the path we take, and we owe them an honest debate.

We've presented a clear alternative to the current path to debt and decline, a path that leaves the next generation with a better country than the one we inherited.


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