By Representative Bill Johnson
Tax Day has come and gone without much acknowledgement from this White House or the mainstream media about the growing burden that hardworking families and businesses are enduring these days. Despite many Americans struggling to make ends meet, President Obama has proposed a budget that will take $1.5 trillion more out of our wallets than last year. When is enough, enough?
Since President Obama took office, the national debt has ballooned going from about $10 trillion to more than $15 trillion. Each American's share of the debt has increased to $50,000. The path that the President's policies have put us on is not sustainable, and burying our children and grandchildren under this type of crushing debt is immoral.
For too long Presidents and members of Congress, of both political parties, have spent tax dollars like drunken sailors showing a complete lack of respect to those footing the bill -- hardworking American taxpayers. Whether it's the federal tax burden or the cost of complying with federal mandates like President Obama's health care law or the rising cost of so many consumer products, like food, as a result of high prices at the pump, the American people are overtaxed and undervalued by a federal government that too often takes them for granted.
Just recently, we saw a disgusting display of behavior by federal employees at a conference in Las Vegas that racked up a tab of nearly $1 million of your dollars. This lavish spending included a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception. Ironically, the now resigned General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator missed the big party due to a scheduled meeting with Solyndra, the same Solyndra that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the President just before it filed for bankruptcy. These are just two examples of your tax dollars at work.
Yet when Americans begin to ask their elected representatives tough questions about how their tax dollars are being spent, it's often met with arrogance. How many times have we heard the President and others say something to the effect of "the American people must pay their fair share' in an attempt to divide Americans and change the subject? The subject should be: Our tax dollars - what is the government spending our money on, how efficiently are they doing so, and is that spending justified in light of our $15 trillion debt?
One of the most basic concepts that exist for controlling spending is a budget. Small businesses have them. Large businesses have them. Families have them. Non-profits have them. Almost any type of organization that I can think of has a budget. But the federal government does not. President Obama put forth his budget but it was so full of tax increases and spending hikes that it failed to get a single vote in the House. Not one - even the members of his own party unanimously voted it down. But the House passed a budget that reduces spending, puts us on the road to a balanced budget, and strengthens Medicare to prevent its impending bankruptcy. It's currently being vilified by big government politicians and many in the media because it makes hard choices, addresses real problems, and begins to slow the gusher of tax dollars flowing to Washington. But the Senate has failed to pass a budget in three years. And, according to Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Senate won't even consider one this year, and won't even bring up a budget for debate. Such lack of respect for the taxpayer is why we're in this mess. And many in Washington still don't get it.
I've introduced legislation called the "Pass a Budget Now Act' that would force each chamber of Congress, the House and Senate, to pass a budget by April 15 each year as required by law, or not collect a salary. The savings from the forfeited salaries would be used to pay down the debt. While this legislation has a long way to go to become law, I'm not giving up. Washington must change the way it does business, or our future economic prosperity, national security, and even stability, are in jeopardy.
There's one truth that politicians in Washington detest hearing, and that is "it's not the government's money, it's the American people's money.' But it's the truth. Washington doesn't create jobs and it doesn't create prosperity, but it can prevent both through its massive spending and over regulation. Each dollar it takes in taxes is a dollar less a family has to make mortgage payments, a dollar less to save for college, a dollar less in your wallet at the grocery store, and a dollar less for a small business to invest and grow. It's time for Americans, regardless of political party, to start asking "What are we getting for sending all those dollars for Washington?'