As Congress adjourns for the August District Work Period, many challenges remain to restore fiscal health to the economy. Struggling families worry about job security, cost of living expenses, higher taxes, rising health care costs and increasing costs of education. Small businesses brace for higher costs in health care mandates, higher taxes, and other regulatory burdens. Those who have lost their job find that securing another one in this time of record-high unemployment can be daunting.
The Federal debt is currently $13 trillion, a factor that is slowing the economy and destroying American jobs. In July, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the budget is on an unsustainable path and that the federal debt will reach 62 percent of the nation's economic output this year -- the highest level since shortly after World War II. Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently renewed his warning thatthe nation's debt is the biggest threat to U.S. national security.
Everywhere I travel in the District, folks worry about the future of our country and about the drastic expansion of government and spending, but the current leadership in Congress doesn't seem to be listening. They continue to spend more and raise the debt ceiling in order to do so, rather than make the difficult decisions necessary to reduce the deficit. Since January 2009, the President has signed into law $1.8 trillion in new spending and $670 million in new taxes.
To make matters worse, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided not to offer a detailed budget for fiscal year 2011. This is the first time the House has failed to propose and pass an annual budget resolution since the current budget rules were put in place in 1974.
Now, more than ever, we need a budget that will begin to restore America's fiscal health.
We need to take immediate and drastic action to cut federal spending, reduce the deficit, reduce taxes, and help put America back on course for economic strength and security. As a longtime fiscal conservative and one who has always supported a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, I voted against the bailout, against stimulus spending, against costly health care reform, against higher energy taxes, against raising the debt limit, and against spending increases. Unfortunately, these measures passed the House, largely along partisan lines.
This year Republicans in the House instituted a moratorium on earmarks as well as a program to allow Americans to cast a "YouCut" vote via the Internet. Following citizen input, Republicans brought these spending cut proposals to the House Floor for a vote. These cuts would have saved taxpayers billions of dollars, but unfortunately the votes failed due to Democratic opposition.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, when the stimulus was signed into law in early February of 2009, the unemployment rate was 7.6% and 12.5 million Americans were unemployed. More than 17 months later, the unemployment rate has risen to nearly 10 percent with roughly 15 million Americans still jobless. Everyone agrees that job creation is the key to strengthening the economy. There's nothing worse than an unemployed son-in-law or an unhappy daughter-in-law. The answer is jobs.
As most folks know, small businesses play a major role in the American economy, creating 7 out of every 10 private sector jobs in recent years. We need to be doing all we can to bolster small businesses to lead our economic recovery and help put our nation back on the path to prosperity. Small business owners need certainty in order to grow their businesses and create jobs. They need Congress to rein in spending, free up capital, and keep taxes low. They cannot thrive under the constant threat of higher taxes and more bureaucratic red tape.
During the August District Work Period, I plan to visit every County in the Fourth District and make myself available to talk to folks and hear their common-sense suggestions. House Republicans plan to implement our "America Speaking Out" agenda in September, based on these conversations with our constituents. I encourage Fourth District residents to call, write or email me to offer their ideas, or voice their views at the following website: www.americaspeakingout.com. By working together toward a common vision, we can begin to meet the challenges America faces today and build a better future for all Americans.