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This Week in Washington


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One of the most disturbing things I've seen in recent years is the total disregard in Washington for the debt our nation racks up. For far too long, both parties have been guilty of abandoning the very same, simple approach families must take just in order to make ends meet. When you or I pay bills and balance the checkbook, one thing remains constant: we can't plan to spend money we do not have, and we can't borrow beyond our capacity to pay back. It's time for folks in Washington to take some of that kitchen-table common sense to heart, and for our government to start living within its means again.

America's debt is an even more deep-seeded problem than merely spending more than we take in. Our nation runs huge trade deficits with most all of our trading partners, and we continue to give ground to other nations in trade deals while encouraging American corporations to ship jobs overseas. If we are ever to take control of our financial destiny, we must first begin by defending our own jobs, industries and markets. When factories run and people work and goods are manufactured here and sold and shipped around the globe, revenues increase, dependency on social services decrease and technological innovations spring forth as a natural by-product of completion and development. The first step in controlling our debt is to put America back to work.

If America were a publicly-held corporation, the majority of our stock would be held by foreign countries with whom we compete in global markets, with Japan and China leading the way. Reckless spending and poor policies have placed us at a seeming permanent disadvantage with the other major economies of the world. Our debt to them threatens to make them our master. Until we reduce our debt and trade deficit with other nations, we will not be able to truly control our own destiny.

Make no mistake, we must get our debt under control as a matter of national security. The director of the CIA, the Director of National Intelligence, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have all stated publicly that our debt and deficit constitute a national security risk. Whether it is from the strain on future security resources or the perpetual disadvantage created from being a debtor nation to so much of the world, our spending is a threat to our nation's strength and its role as a force for good in the world.

I support pay-as-you-go legislation. This is a straightforward solution to help tackle the problem of increased spending. If a piece of legislation requires government funding, we must know exactly where that money is to come from, and it must not be borrowed money. We can support legislation that does not add to the federal deficit, making sure that if we're going to spend money on something, it's either deficit neutral, or those costs can be directly offset by cuts to existing spending. This is a common sense way to derail the reckless spending that has gotten the federal government into the shape it's in. We cannot simply print more and more money, pushing our debt further and further down the road for generations after us to pay.

Unfortunately, many in Washington have tried to find ways to work around pay-as-you-go. In an effort to find ways to avoid reaching our nation's debt limit, some think we can simply fix that problem by merely voting to raise the limit. Just as we're seeing credit limits shrinking for families and small businesses, folks in Washington selfishly vote to increase the limit of their own imaginary credit card. I have voted against direct raises to the debt limit every time they have come before me for a vote.

Another step I have taken to help bring down our debt, and to enforce some discipline on future spending, was to introduce the Repaying the American Taxpayer Act, which would require the sale of TARP-related assets to be directly applied to national debt while reducing the debt ceiling for every dollar of TARP money returned to the Department of Treasury. This bill has gained bipartisan support, and is designed to see that taxpayers don't get stuck with the bill for the mistakes made by big corporations. And it is obvious that unless TARP funds are also taken down from the debt ceiling, then the government will simply continue to borrow up to the higher limit. As TARP funds are paid back, we should not only set the money aside from future spending, but we should lower our debt ceiling to insure that we do not borrow the same twice.

Already in the 112th Congress I have supported H.R. 38 - Reducing Non-Security Spending to Fiscal Year 2008 Levels or Less, H.R. 22 - 5% Congressional Office Expenditures Cut, and H.R. 292 -- "Stop the Over Printing Act" to cut wasteful and unnecessary printing in the Government Printing Office. I intend to continue to fight government waste and reckless spending and restore a sense of responsibility to Washington for the stewardship of your tax dollars. We all know that both parties have contributed to the financial mess our government is in, and I will continue to stand up to those of either party who do not understand that we must put America back on sound financial footing, get our people back to work, and reduce our debt and deficit.

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