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February 21st, 2011

Congress Finally Starts Down the Road Less Traveled

By Tom Latham

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives began moving down a path seldom traveled by Washington in recent years. The trillion-dollar deficits and the failed government stimulus experiments of the last few years have left our country in a dire situation that requires tough choices.   Faced with this major fork in the road, the new majority in the U.S. House chose the path of fiscal sanity, restraint and job growth rather than driving the country further down the road toward financial ruin and driving our children’s and grandchildren’s hope of the American Dream off a cliff.

I joined a majority of my colleagues in the House of Representatives early Saturday morning to vote in favor of cutting $100 billion in federal spending over the president’s funding request for the current fiscal year.  This measure, known as a continuing resolution, contains some of the biggest spending cuts in the history of Congress.  As you may know, the reason a continuing resolution is even needed, almost half way into the fiscal year, is because Congressional Democrats in 2010 failed to legislate the appropriations bills needed each year to fund the functions of the federal government.  That was the first time since the current budgetary rules were adopted in1974 that the House failed to even consider a budget resolution.

If the continuing resolution passed by the House Saturday is approved by the Senate and President Obama, it would take effect immediately and significantly reduce current spending levels. The spending binge of the last few years has sent the national debt into the stratosphere and frozen economic growth, but this continuing resolution represents a turning point in the national debate on government spending and focuses the national discussion on restoring our country’s fiscal standing.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I helped identify federal spending that could be cut to save tax dollars.  The other committee members and I scoured the budget and weighed the costs and benefits of individual programs and agencies.  Some of these cuts won’t be popular, and their impact will be felt in every congressional district across the country.  But these spending reductions were necessary and long overdue.  The American people expect Congress to make the tough decisions to put our economy back on track and help employers create jobs rather than to continue kicking the can of spending way beyond our means down the road.  That’s exactly what this continuing resolution attempts to do. It shows a commitment to getting a handle on federal spending and the national debt, which must happen before our economy can truly start picking up steam.

Greatly contrasting with the bold actions of the House this week was the release of the president’s budget request for the next fiscal year, which makes no such commitment to fiscal responsibility.  Rather, the president’s plan doubles down on the taxing, spending and borrowing that will keep a comprehensive long-term recovery from finally taking root.  The White House budget would run a $1.65 trillion deficit in a single year, and it relies on another $1.6 trillion in taxes on families and businesses.  In his weekly address to the nation last weekend, President Obama claimed that his budget request asks Washington to “live within its means.” Only in Washington can spending $1.65 trillion more than you have be considered spending within our means.  I don’t know of a single Iowa family, farmer or small business owner who would go further into debt and call that living within their means.

A real economic recovery can’t happen until Washington gets serious about spending and the debt.  I’m committed to choosing the path of fiscal responsibility, spending cuts, and smaller tax burdens to put our country on the path to prosperity and job growth and saving the hope of access to the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.  The White House’s spending plan, however, will push our country down the wrong path with more debt and spending.  It’s time for America to stand strong and choose the path of fiscal responsibility.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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The Iowa Republican





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