By Angelina Dickson
As one of only two engineers elected to Congress, Rep. David B. McKinley said keeping an eye on the numbers driving the economy is a top priority for him in Washington, D.C.
McKinley spoke to the members of the Rotary Club of Weirton on Wednesday about what can be expected out of Washington, D.C. by the end of the year.
Currently, McKinley said every two to three days there is a conference to deal with the debt ceiling. He said Congress raised the debt ceiling to avoid having to shut down the federal government which would prevent payouts to employees, the military, Social Security and other groups.
McKinley talked about a super committee most said was "destined to fail" with three Democrats and three Republicans from both the House and Senate which was assigned with the task of reducing the spending. He said if that couldn't be done through the super committee then a failsafe would kick in and it would be done through sequestration - a procedure by which an automatic spending cut is triggered - as of Jan. 1, 2013.
"That means that $6 billion would be cut out of defense and there would be $6 billion in discretionary spending," he said. "That's no way to run a country."
McKinley said Congress is working out a way to do a comprehensive review of the tax code, something he said is broken. He said the tax code started out with 400 pages and there is now 85,000 pages in the tax code. He said taxes are too complicated today and there are now more people filing taxes in the United States than there are police and fire.
Understanding the numbers is something McKinley said he knows how to do and based on the numbers, going after the super rich or even doubling everyone's taxes is not going to be enough to help the budget. He said there was some groundwork done recently to assist in the review of the tax structure.
"If we don't do something by the end of the year, all of the Bush tax cuts will expire and everyone's taxes will go up," he said. "We cannot pick winners and losers. We need good policies instead of good politics."
McKinley said the debt ceiling was raised up to $16.5 trillion and the government has already spent $16.4 trillion and Washington, D.C. will once again hit a wall.
McKinley said all the problems cannot be blamed on President Barack Obama because he inherited a weak economy, but he said the President's policies have made it worse. He said it is a shame that Washington cannot come together to work out the issues instead of fueling class envy.
"There are a lot of things going on that are taking America's eye off the economy," he said. "We need to get regulatory reform to get people back to work instead of stopping all regulations."
One of the biggest problems McKinley said he sees in Washington is a "pay and chase" policy, duplication of services and a lack of incentives to point out fraud. He said in the construction industry, buildings are built before they are paid in full but the government issues money for services without confirming whether it is legitimate and then years later tries to see if it was the right thing to do.
McKinley said the House of Representatives attempted to pass a bill to "cut, cap and balance" the budget in order to reduce the debt ceiling and stabilize spending. He said 43 cents of every $1 spent in Washington is borrowed. He said there is a spending problem that needs to be solved by Jan. 1 among other issues and it will be an interesting "lame duck" session.