By now you've heard of the "fiscal cliff," the billions in automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled on Jan. 1 that will affect virtually every American.
We've known for a while that the fiscal cliff was coming and that's why, during the last two years, my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives and I have worked proactively to lay out ways to avoid the worst parts. Specifically, we passed legislation to prevent the tax increases from hitting hard-working families as well as a bill outlining ways to cut federal spending in an equitable and sensible way.
During the campaign, President Barack Obama indicated he wanted a balanced approach to avoiding the fiscal cliff and balancing the budget -- an approach that included both new revenue and spending cuts.
Though I strongly believe raising taxes at this time will impede badly needed job creation and economic growth, I am open to proposals that include new forms of revenue generated by closing tax loopholes and ending deductions especially for wealthier Americans. House Speaker John Boehner is on record stating the same -- the GOP has put revenue on the table.
On the other hand, for all the talk of a "balanced approach," President Obama has only discussed tax increases. While Republicans have put specific ideas for new revenue on the table, there have been no specific ideas presented by the President or any Democrat in the House or Senate about how to cut federal spending -- the real driver of America's economic mess.
So now the House finds itself in the unenviable position of negotiating with a shadow because the President refuses to engage in the unpleasant task of negotiation. Obama campaigned on a slogan: Forward. It's time for him to lean forward ... to the negotiating table. America needs his leadership now.
A Spending Problem
Our nation is $16.3 trillion dollars in debt and borrows more than a $1 trillion annually to pay for its overextended spending commitments. The debt is so large that it amounts to more than $200,000 for a family of four. The new tax increases the president seeks will raise enough revenue to fund the government for a mere 8 days.
Clearly, we have a spending problem, and without action America remains in real danger of facing a Greece-like debt crisis. Talking about the fiscal cliff and balancing our budget without proposing serious ideas on how to reduce government spending is irresponsible.
In addition to not yet offering a spending cut plan, the administration has refused to include reforming Medicare in the fiscal cliff negotiations. Yet the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office tells us this program will go bankrupt in 10 years if Congress does nothing to reform it for those 54 years old and younger. By taking Medicare reform off the negotiating table, we are virtually guaranteeing that this critical program will not be here for future generations.
As your representative in Congress, you have my word that I will set aside politics to avoid the devastating effects of going off the "fiscal cliff." I await President Obama's proposal and hope that it will include the balanced approach he talks so much about.
Both parties must come together to avoid the fiscal cliff, but more importantly, we must get serious about reining in federal spending and putting our nation on a path to a balanced budget so we can bring jobs, certainty, growth and prosperity back to America' hard-working families and small businesses.