Since I first came to Congress in 2001, I have been sounding the alarms on federal spending and our national debt. Since the late 1990s when we had a balanced budget under President Clinton, federal spending has ballooned out of control and the federal government has made too many promises it can no longer afford. Our budget deficits and the national debt continue to hinder our country's long-term economic growth.
The reality is that our problem is much more than congressional spending. Yes, we need to cut congressional spending for federal programs and activities, also known as discretionary spending, and, I support many of those cuts. However, this type of spending only makes up 15 percent of the federal budget. Even if we cut all non-defense discretionary spending -- eliminating every single federal program -- this nation would still run huge annual deficits.
Spending cuts alone are not enough. We have to take a comprehensive approach to our nation's finances. Everything must be on the table including tax reform, entitlement reform, budget process reforms, and the elimination of waste, fraud and abuse, and duplicate government programs. Instead of the political games that have been played recently over our budget, the American people deserve a serious conversation, and that is my goal as your Congressman.
That's why I have helped introduce House Resolution 623, which amends the rules of the House of Representatives to prevent duplicative and overlapping government programs.
Eliminating duplicative and overlapping government programs has the potential to save our country billions of dollars. In fact, earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report detailing $100 billion in possible savings by eliminating duplicative programs. In 2011 the GAO identified 81 separate areas where duplication could be eliminated and this year they identified an additional 51 areas.
H.Res 623 accomplishes this savings by helping ensure members of Congress are informed of all existing federal programs before creating new ones. This reform would require the Congressional Research Service (CRS) to provide a duplication score for all legislation before consideration in Congress. Similar to a CBO estimate, which provides members of Congress with the potential cost of legislation, this duplication score would explain if the legislation to be considered creates new programs duplicative of existing federal programs.
By preventing Congress from considering any bill or joint resolution that has not had an overlapping and duplicative program analysis prepared and posted on-line, this legislation helps to ensure that the federal government is more responsible, accountable and efficient--all while allowing us to save taxpayer dollars and cut government waste and redundancies.
It is time to change the way Washington operates. H.Res 623 is just one step of many that must be taken in order for our country to continue to recovery economically. Congress must be willing to work together, listen to each other and the American people to get the job done because no one side has a monopoly on good ideas. We must roll up our sleeves and make the tough decisions necessary to once again put the country back on secure economic footing.
As your Congressman, I will continue to work with both Democrats and Republicans to introduce more commonsense, bipartisan solutions like H.Res 623 to help us return to the days of a balanced budget and stronger economy.