The week ahead will be very busy. I wanted to give you a review of what we are expecting in Washington. As always, I'm interested in your thoughts on the issues I'll be voting on as your representative.
"I think the biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt."
--Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, July 6, 2010.
President Obama released his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012 today. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I will be reviewing his proposal in detail over the next few weeks.
From a bird's eye view, however, I am very disappointed in the numbers the President has proposed. I've heard, when you are in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. But, instead of addressing the debt crisis our nation faces, the President's budget increases spending by $8.7 trillion over the next ten years -- and borrows $13 trillion to do it. In addition, this budget imposes a $1.6 trillion tax hike on America's job creators and families.
Over the past four years, American families have on average, seen their incomes drop by about 4.2%, while the federal government's budget grew by 36%. In the same amount of time, our national debt has increased by 63%!
It should be obvious that this unsustainable spending requires real reform. Over the next ten years, the budgets that Congress passes should include a plan for entitlement reform-- which is now more than half of our total spending. Although the President convened the Bowles-Simpson Commission to address this issue, his 2012 budget ignores its recommendations. It spends away our future and increases our obligations to countries that do not have our best interests in mind.
This week, the House is taking an unprecedented step: we will be debating a resolution to fund federal government operations at reduced levels through the end of FY 2011.
Continuing resolutions are nothing new. When Congress fails to pass a budget, as the 111th Congress did, continuing resolutions (CRs) are used to keep the government operating, usually at levels similar to the last year's budget.
What is unique about this CR is that it will reduce federal government operating expenses by $100 billion over the next seven months, as promised in the Pledge to America.
It will also be debated under the most open process I've seen in Congress. Legislators from both parties will be able to introduce amendments to the CR and those amendments will be debated and voted on over the next several days.
Some of that debate will likely include accusations that reducing spending by $100 billion dollars is "draconian," "cruel," or "unnecessary." Yet, we cannot tax and spend our way out of the current fiscal crisis. Washington has weighed down our economy with unsustainable spending and the only way to economic freedom and prosperity is through fiscal restraint.
As this table shows, spending has grown at a record pace over the last few years, while family budgets have declined.
Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services was cited for misplacing about $8.2 million in government property -- yet it has grown by 52% over the last five years. The Department of Transportation has ballooned 44% in the past five years and used its monies to provide for a series of different projects including more than a quarter of a million dollars to the Electric City Trolley Museum. The Department of Agriculture also gave Cornell University $1.3 million to develop recommendations for improving wine quality -- its budget has increased 55% in the last five years.
The Continuing Resolution the House will debate this week eliminates waste and duplication across many government agencies. It takes the first steps necessary to rein in the out-of-control growth of government that Washington has been forcing on the American people.