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June 15th, 2010

Latham’s Undate on the Federal Budget

By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham
Iowa’s 4th Congressional District

When difficult economic times set in, most families and small businesses turn to their budgets and look for places to cut back and find savings.  The family budget establishes a framework and a plan of action to guide us through lean times.  Budgets also give us a sense of stability and certainty in the middle of a recession.  We know that if we put together a responsible budget and stick to it, we’ll weather the economic storm and often end up stronger as a result of the process.  This principle holds true for families and small businesses, but, in a frustrating display of political maneuvering, the Democrat leaders in Congress have decided that the rule need not apply on Capitol Hill or in Washington.

For the first time since the current budgetary rules were established in 1974 — almost 40 years — a budget resolution will not even be proposed for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives for the upcoming fiscal year.  Forming a federal budget is one of the most basic governing responsibilities given to Congress, but majority Democrats know that any budget they approve will mean even more spending, taxing and borrowing.  Such a vote would further demonstrate their insistence on an unpopular and harmful big-spending agenda, so they’ve decided the best solution is to avoid putting together a budget at all.

Aside from being a transparent political tactic, failing to put together a budget also puts our economy at further risk.  It sends a signal to the American people and to the rest of the world that Washington is unwilling to get a handle on out-of-control spending and debt by approving a responsible budget.  A fiscally sound budget would offer families and small business owners a sense of stability and certainty that would allow Americans to plan ahead with confidence.  The absence of a budget leaves America with nothing but questions and uncertainty.

Washington needs to start listening to the American people again.  We need a fiscally responsible plan to crack down on spending, borrowing and taxing.  A good first step toward that goal would be to cancel the authority to spend any remaining money intended for President Obama’s stimulus package or the Wall Street bailout fund.  The failed stimulus legislation hasn’t stopped national unemployment from rising near 10 percent, and we’d be better off to rescind all unobligated budget authority authorized under the failed stimulus bill and dedicate it to deficit reduction.  This option became even more important last week when the outstanding public debt hit the grim milestone of $13 trillion.

Families and small businesses have to stick to a responsible budget if they want to stay afloat in a difficult economy.  The federal government should be no different. There are steps Congress can take right now to put the government back on the path toward fiscal responsibility.  Failure to act now could mean dire consequences for future generations.

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The Iowa Republican

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