Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) along with Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce (NM-02) today urged the House to consider energy development as a way to increase revenues without having to increase taxes on hard working Americans.
In a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, Bishop and Pearce also emphasized that as Congress moves toward addressing the looming fiscal cliff, immediate steps must be taken to reduce spending. They warned that increases proposed by the President would only fuel further irresponsible spending and would be detrimental to the already fragile economy.
They noted in the letter that, "the October deficit was $120 billion, up from $98.5 billion for the previous year." However, they cautioned that, "this was not the result of a lack of revenues." In fact, "revenues actually rose 13% over the same period from a year ago." "During the month of October, spending increased 16% above October's fiscal year 2012 levels." These numbers illustrate that the deficit was fueled by out-of-control government spending.
Recognizing that the President and some in Congress will insist that new revenues be part of the equation, Bishop and Pearce offer an alternative to new tax hikes. In the letter, they encourage the consideration of energy production, the disposal of some of the federal government's vast land holdings, and the divesting of excess and surplus federal assets as a way to generate new revenue.
Bishop said of this proposal, "This will not only meet the needs of those who favor new revenues as a solution, but will also grow jobs, strengthen local and state economies, reduce importation of foreign resources, and help cut down on the cost of energy. It's a win-win proposition."
Excerpts of the letter:
"By tapping into our nation's abundant energy resources, we could boost revenues through increased economic activity, job creation, and payments to the U.S. Treasury. Already, the oil and gas industry contributes roughly $31.4 billion per year to the U.S. Treasury in bonus, rent, royalty, and tax payments and an additional $38 billion in state and local taxes. More favorable policies to allow for responsible development of federally-owned land and water would increase these figures considerably."
"Oil production on federal lands fell by an average of 275,000 barrels per day in FY2011, which represents a loss not only to our domestic oil supply but also to the U.S. Treasury."
"Divesting the federal government of its vast land holdings could pay down the deficit and reduce spending. The federal government owns roughly 650 million acres of land, or 1/3 of the entire landmass of our country. Over 90% of this land is located in the western states and most of it we do not even need.
"Strategically transferring ownership of these lands where it makes sense would reduce duplicative land management costs, boost revenues through the resultant economic activity of more productive and local land management, and is consistent with the principles of federalism our founding fathers envisioned."